summer skincare sunscreen
Image: Courtesy of Jonathan Kemper via Unsplash

All of Your Summer Skincare Questions Answered, from an Expert Dermatologist

SPF 30, 50, or 70?

Summer is just around the corner, and it’s the time of year that we begin to switch things up. Our clothes tend to mirror the environment outside; we swap out hot drinks for colder, more refreshing ones and even change our skincare routine. But what exactly should we change about how we keep our skin healthy? Should we use an SPF that is 30, 50, or 70? We interviewed skincare expert and dermatologist Dr. Fatima Fahs to learn more about what the most important steps are to take in your summer skincare routine, including the kind of ingredients or treatments we should avoid, the type of sunscreen we should be using, and even how often we should reapply sunscreen. Keep reading to find out more from Dr. Fahs!
summer skincare sunscreen
Image: Courtesy of Navi via Unsplash

All of Your Summer Skincare Questions Answered by an Expert Dermatologist

How should you switch up your skincare routine for summer? 

In the summertime, you may want to switch your heavier face creams for lighter gels to avoid clogging your pores. You can opt for a foaming face wash, which will help with excess oiliness that tends to be an issue in the warmer months. Lastly, be more diligent about using sunscreens if you aren’t already! Excessive sun exposure can cause wrinkles, dark spots, leathery skin texture, and skin cancer. You want to protect your skin from the sun at all costs while enjoying its warmth to the fullest.

What skincare ingredients or treatments should you avoid in the summer?

Our skin cell turnover tends to slow down in the colder months, which is why exfoliants are commonly used in cooler weather. In the summer, with increased sweating, activity, and sun exposure, our skin cell turnover normalizes or speeds up, so you may not require as frequent use of physical scrubs or exfoliating acids. The same goes for treatments in the office, like deeper chemical peels and some types of lasers. It’s best to either wait until the cooler months or be extremely diligent about sun protection and avoidance after resurfacing treatments of the skin.

What kind of SPF should we be using?

In general, it’s best to choose a sunscreen that has at least two things on the label:

  • Ensure your sunscreen says “broad spectrum”; it protects against both UVA and UVB rays — it’s so important to have both!
  • Choose at least an SPF of 30 or higher. An SPF of 30 can block 97% of UV rays when applied correctly. No sunscreen can block at 100%, even if applied perfectly.

If you’re looking for a sunscreen for a day at the beach or pool, it may be better to also look for a sunscreen labeled “water resistant” for up to 40 or 80 minutes. There is no such thing as waterproof sunscreen, but it’s important to pick a water-resistant one when swimming or sweating for better protection. Newer research shows that choosing a higher SPF number can be more beneficial, especially for days where sun exposure is more intense as we tend not to apply enough sunscreen to get the proper protection!

What is the difference between UVA and UVB rays?

UVA rays penetrate the skin on a deeper layer and contribute to tanning, wrinkles, and skin aging. UVB rays cause sunburns and are the main type of rays linked to skin cancer. It’s important to note that both types of rays can technically contribute to developing skin cancer, so you want to choose a sunscreen with “broad spectrum” coverage, which protects against UVA and UVB rays.

How often should we reapply sunscreen?

Generally, it’s best to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours outdoors or sooner if swimming or sweating. During the work week or if indoors most of the day, I tend to apply my sunscreen in the morning after finishing my skincare routine and then reapply before leaving work and driving home on my commute home or heading outdoors. Sunscreen should become a habit, rain or shine, so get in the habit of applying your sunscreen daily! Use a spray to apply easily on the go or even in your home. If you’re wearing makeup, many brands make a powder sunscreen you can use to reapply during the day over your foundation.

Where in our skincare or makeup routines should we anchor sunscreen?

Sunscreen should be the last step in your skincare routine. It’s best to apply it after moisturizer but before any makeup.

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