All About Sunscreen
It is widely acknowledged that sunscreen is the best way to physically protect your skin year-round. At South Shore Skin Center, we commonly get questions about using sunscreen properly and which types of sunscreen are best. We hope the information in this article is helpful and encourages you to use sunscreen every day.
Q. Who should use sunscreen?
A. Everyone! One in five people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Skin cancer affects men and women of all ages and ethnicities. Everyone should reapply sunscreen every 2 hours when exposed to the suns rays.
Q. Which sunscreen is best to use?
A. The best sunscreen is the one you use and use regularly! Choose a sunscreen that is:
- Broad spectrum (protects from UVA and UVB rays)
- SPF 30 or higher
Q. What is the difference between UVA and UVB rays?
A. UVA (aging rays) cause brown spots and wrinkles causing your skin to appear aged. UVA rays can pass through car and building glass and they pass through the clouds. UVB (burning rays) are the primary cause of sunburned skin and do not pass through window glass. Over exposure to both UVA and UVB rays can lead to skin cancer. Both can do additional damage to the health of your skin.
Q. When should I use sunscreen?
A. Everyday! Cloudy days and winter sun can still damage the skin. Using a daily sunscreen is the best defense against the harmful rays of the sun. Remember too, that snow, sand and water all reflect the sun’s rays. In the summer months, and when outdoors, reapply sunscreen every 2 hours. Also reapply after swimming or sweating.
Q. How much sunscreen should I use?
A. A good rule of thumb is to estimate the size of a shot glass to cover your body. That is about 1 oz. or more depending on your body size. Don’t forget the tops of your feet and ears; it is best to apply sunscreen about 15 minutes prior to sun exposure and again every 2 hours.
Q. Should I use cream or spray sunscreen?
A. The best sunscreen is the one you apply and apply regularly! Here are a few tips to help:
- Creams are best for dry skin.
- Gels work well for areas with hair such as men’s scalp and chest.
- Sticks work well for under eyes and tops of the ears and nose.
- Lip balm sticks with SPF are best for the lips.
- Cosmetically elegant and tinted sunscreens are great options for the face.
- Sprays are popular for children as they are easy to apply. Remember to fully cover exposed skin, reapply often and look away when spraying so as not to inhale the product.
Q. Is a higher SPF better?
A. Dermatologists recommend an SPF of 30-50. No sunscreen can block 100% of the sun’s rays. Regardless of the SPF number, all sunscreens should be reapplied every 2 hours, as the SPF does not determine length of time you are protected.
Q. Does sunscreen expire?
A. First, check the bottle for an expiration date. If expired, throw it out. The FDA requires sunscreen to maintain effectiveness for 3 years. Remember the following:
- Do not leave sunscreen in a hot car
- Check the color and consistency of the sunscreen, if it has changed, throw it out.
Q. I love being outdoors in the nice weather, what else can I do to protect my skin?
A. Great question. Here are some other things you can do:
- First, wear your sunscreen and reapply every 2 hours. (have you heard that before?)
- Wear protective clothing – long sleeve shirts, a wide brim hat and sunglasses. There are also some great clothing lines with UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) fabric with more available every year.
- Seek shade when possible; especially between the peak hours of 10am and 2pm. Sit under an umbrella when possible.
- A good rule of thumb to follow: if your shadow is shorter than you, seek shade.
South Shore Skin Center Staff are happy to assist you in selecting a sunscreen that will help protect your skin while enjoying the wonderful seasons ahead. Stop by our Plymouth or Norwell office for more sunscreen assistance.
* Thank you to the American Academy of Dermatology Sunscreen Guide. https://www.aad.org/media/stats/prevention-and-care/sunscreen-faqs
How to get a Safe Summer Glow
It’s rapidly getting to be sundress and shorts season and we all want to enjoy that sun-kissed glow that comes during the warm, sunny days of summer. However, we are all well-aware of the damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun, so what do we do? Try self-tanners.
Self-tanning products have come a long way from the days of streaky, orange looking skin. While today’s formulas have progressed to include various forms of application and shade options, it does take a bit of practice and technique to apply them correctly. Whether you choose lotion, gel, spray or wipes, be sure to read the individual application instructions first.
Here are a few helpful tips to help achieve a smooth, safe-tanned look.
- Prior to applying any self-tanner, it is essential to exfoliate and moisturize. If you aren’t already doing this, it is best to begin this several days prior to application. Dry, flaky skin does not accept self-tanners as well as smooth, well-moisturized skin.
- Apply self-tanner after your shower and after your skin is fully dry.
- Wear gloves if you have them. This helps avoid unnecessary staining of the palms
- Avoid moisturizers immediately prior to applying on most areas. However, a small amount of moisturizer over thick-skinned areas like knees, elbows, ankles, wrists and knuckles can prevent over saturation and a darker look.
- Whether using a spray or lotion, be sure to massage into skin and blend well moving lightly over knees, ankles, wrists and joints. (Be sure to read manufacturer’s instructions for proper application)
- If possible, to ensure even overall coverage, ask someone to help apply to your back or try a long arm lotion applicator.
- Allow tanners to dry completely before dressing or sliding into bed onto your crisp white sheets. You can help drying time by standing in front of a fan or using a hairdryer on a cool setting. Wear loose-fitting clothes for a few hours to prevent smudges from friction.
- Moisturize your skin between applications to keep your ‘tan’ looking smooth and natural. Avoid aggressive exfoliation between applications. A washcloth can provide gentle exfoliation between applications, but sure to wait a few days after each application.
- Don’t forget to wear UVA/UVB sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher as the “tan” you’ve just created doesn’t protect you from the sun’s harmful rays!
Caring for Your Skin During Cancer Treatment
By Mary F. Rico, CMA, LE, COE, South Shore Skin Center
Did you know that your skin is the largest organ in your body? It is the first line of defense against sunlight, chemicals, and infection. It is also one of the areas of the body most commonly affected by treatments for cancer.
Skin reactions can be common among patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Reactions vary greatly, and depend on your individual treatment, dose of medication and the effects on your immune system.
While undergoing treatment for cancer, any skin related issues should be evaluated by your primary care physician, oncologist or dermatologist. The unique training and experience of a Certified Oncology Esthetician (COE) can contribute greatly to the management of your skin health during this challenging time. A COE can provide safe and calming treatments for an immunocompromised client. An esthetician working with cancer patients does not diagnose skin conditions; patients are advised to bring up any concerns with their physician.
COE’s are held to the same state licensing standards as estheticians but have gone on to specialized and post-licensure education. Their advance training includes Oncology Massage; Sanitation and Infection Control; Chemo/Radiation/Biologic Therapies; Oncologic Surgeries; Lymphatic system; and a thorough working knowledge of the ingredients in skin care products.
The esthetician will evaluate the skin care regimen and products that the patient is using and make recommendations for corrections or add beneficial products and treatments that will sooth, hydrate, nourish, and treat affected areas. The patient who is currently undergoing cancer treatment or, who has recently undergone treatment, is typically looking for comfort and relief from unpleasant side effects associated with cancer treatments such as dry, itchy, red, flaky skin; and often increased sensitivity to products.
Skin care for patients undergoing cancer treatment should be specifically customized, recognizing that each patient has unique circumstances and may respond differently to treatment. Recommendations will always consider what kind of cancer treatment a patient is undergoing to determine what type of skin care and products would be best suited for the patient’s needs and limitations. Our goal is to help all cancer patients recover as comfortably as possible, and to help them protect and restore their skin.
It seems that almost everyone knows someone who is affected by cancer and often wish there was something we can do to provide comfort. A comforting facial, treatment or gift certificate by a COE is an excellent option.
Mary F. Rico, CMA, LE, COE is a Licensed Esthetician with combined cosmetic and medical experience. Mary’s primary focus is esthetic treatment, specializing in laser hair removal, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, facials, skin tightening and rejuvenation using eTwo and Clear & Brilliant (Original and Permea), as well as cosmetic consultation. Mary holds a Medical Assistant certificate from Massasoit Community College and her Esthetics license from Spa Tech Institute. Mary has attended conferences at the International Esthetics Cosmetics & Spa Association in New York and received CEUs with CIDESCO (the world’s major international beauty therapy association) in facial analysis, product formula, lymphatic drainage, Acne and Rosacea. Mary has also studied with Morag Currin’s Touch for Cancer Oncology Esthetics and has earned her certification in Oncology Esthetics, giving Mary a unique perception in treating immunocompromised individuals. South Shore Skin Center is proud to have Mary Rico, CMA, LE, COE as one our most experienced Estheticians.