By Ernst Lamothe Jr.
Now with the summer in full swing and people outside for longer periods of time, there is a strong possibility that you could be enjoying yourself without regard to your skin health.
“Sun protection is our first line of defense against skin cancer, sunburns and signs of aging like dark spots and wrinkles,” said Virignia Tracey, a board-certified dermatologist and fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Tracey, who works at Empire Dermatology in East Syracuse, talks about five skin care tips.
1. Tanning beds are a no-no
Everyone has their own personal view about skin care, and the kind of sunscreen you should put on, while others believe the natural rays of the sun should glisten your skin without sunscreen, especially on cloudy days.
But a harmful thing sometimes happens indoors when it comes to sun safety. Many people want an even tan so they believe in the idea of getting a base tan from a tanning bed, which experts caution against. While we used to think UVA light mostly just caused skin aging, medical officials know that the longer the wavelength that penetrates the skin more deeply, the stronger it is linked to melanoma.
“Tanning beds are classified by the World Health Organization as a carcinogen or cancer-causing product,” said Tracey “Each tanning bed use increases the risk of melanoma skin cancer, and using tanning beds before age 35 can increase that by almost 60%.”
2. Sunscreen for babies
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that babies younger than 6 months old do not wear sunscreen. Instead, they should wear sun protective clothing with a UPF of 50 or higher, avoid the peak hours of sunlight exposure between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and also seek shade when outside.
“For kids, I like a sunscreen that is SPF 30 or more, broad spectrum, water resistant, that ideally contains a physical blocker like zinc oxide. It’s also important to find a product they like enough to let you put on and re-apply,” said Tracy.
3. Vitamin C serum
Vitamin C is an antioxidant and protects your skin from free radical damage and oxidative stress caused by UV exposure and pollution. This can lead to skin aging and wrinkling in addition to the development of solar lentigines or sun spots. The antioxidant properties of vitamin C help fight free radicals and damage caused by UV radiation.
“Vitamin C serum is one of my favorite additions to a skin care routine. A few drops should be applied under sunscreen each morning. It is an antioxidant that protects against environmental damage and also can help with fine lines and even skin tone,” said Tracey.
4. Wear hats
Hats are an essential part of protecting your skin from the sun. A wide-brimmed hat is preferable because oftentimes we will see skin cancers develop on the top of ears, tip of nose and back of the neck where a regular baseball cap would not cover.
“Hats, especially with wide brims provide excellent UV protection. Avoid mesh fabric. Hats are especially important for our patients with hair thinning,” said Tracey.
5. Regular skin care maintenance
Skin care regimen recommendations will vary based on skin type, age and specific concerns such as acne, dry skin, and aging skin. In general, a solid skin regimen will consist of a vitamin C serum in the morning paired with sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) and a retinoid or retinol cream at night which helps promote cell turnover leading to increased collagen production and clear pores.
If you are in your 20s, Tracey recommends washing at least once daily with a gentle cleanser and applying an antioxidant serum to prevent free radical damage from sun and pollution.
In your 30s, add a cleanser with AHA/glycolic acid to gently exfoliate two to three times weekly and continue a daily antioxidant serum. In your 40s, use a rich moisture cream at all times containing lipids and ceramides to restore moisture barriers, which is lost with age and choose an eye cream with peptides and growth factors. In your 50s, cleanser or cream with an AHA like glycolic acid once or twice a week, antioxidant serum and eye and neck cream.
“I recommend a gentle face wash followed by facial moisturizer with sunscreen daily,” said Tracey. “Patients with various skin concerns like rosacea, melisma, or acne may need personalization to their skin care routine. For anti-aging skin care I like to add a vitamin C serum under SPF in the morning and a retinol at night.”