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By the time spring and summer roll around, we’re basically starving for some good ol’ vitamin D straight from the sun. The problem is that we love the warm sun on our skin and having a radiant glow, but we’re smart enough to know it can do a lot of damage — wrinkles, discoloration and, worst of all, skin cancer.

With all the different products and information available, it can be overwhelming to know exactly what you need. We went to local dermatologists and skincare experts to find out the best ways to protect our skin, their best summer skincare advice and their favorite products to use for protection, prevention and what to do if you get sunburned.

Here’s what the experts had to say!

Expert: Dr. Sasha Haberle of Metrolina Dermatology and Skin Surgery Specialists

What’s your favorite summer skincare product and why?

The No. 1 thing to remember this summer is SUNSCREEN! Sunscreen is vital for protecting your skin from harmful UV rays that can lead to sun damage-causing wrinkles, sun spots and skin cancers. My favorite sunscreen product during the summer is EltaMD UV Physical Broad-Spectrum SPF 41. It is my go-to sunscreen for the beach or pool. It provides water-resistant, broad-spectrum, chemical-free sun protection with a tinted color allowing you to forgo using make-up. For kids, I love Blue Lizard sunscreen, which is a broad-spectrum, water-resistant physical blocker sunscreen. Kids love how the bottle changes color in harmful UV rays. Regardless of what sunscreen you choose, just remember it only works as long as you are using it regularly, so find one that works for you! Of course, I can’t just have one favorite summer skincare product. I also love topical Vitamin C products year round, but especially during the summer, as they protect against environmental damage caused by free radicals.

What’s the best thing someone can do to protect his/her skin throughout the summer?

Try to avoid being in the sun during the peak hours when UV rays are strongest, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Since this can be difficult, it is important to seek shade during these hours when possible and protect your skin by using a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least an SPF 30 or greater and sun-protective clothing, such as wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses. Most people forget that you need to apply at least 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen at least 30 minutes BEFORE you go outside and reapply every two hours or after swimming/sweating. If you are unsure if your sunscreen is effective for UV protection, look for the Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Recommendation on the bottle or go to skincancer.org. And don’t forget your lips! A safer option to that sun-kissed glow is either using spray tans or sunless tanning lotions. 

Once you’re burned, what can be done to prevent peeling or damage?

As soon as you feel or see any sign of a sunburn, get out of the sun and start treating your skin. A cool bath or compresses can help control the skin inflammation and relieve some of the pain. A dose of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen or Advil, may help to limit the damage and decrease the appearance of the sunburn by reducing swelling and redness. Because sunburns draw fluid towards the skin and away from the body, be sure to drink extra water to keep yourself hydrated. Once sunburns occur, you cannot necessarily prevent peeling, but you can moisturize your skin, preferably with a product that contains aloe or antioxidants, which will improve the appearance of the sunburn and help to exfoliate the skin naturally. Applying liberally and frequently can help improve peeling. In addition, aloe and hydrocortisone-containing products can help with discomfort. Avoid picking, peeling or using exfoliation products or products containing glycolic acid, retinoids or salicylic acid. Allow the peeling to occur naturally while moisturizing the skin, and then wait three days before restarting any of these products. If your skin does not appear to be healing or you have any concerns, it is best to see your dermatologist.

Best piece of summer skincare advice?

During the hotter summer months, you should consider switching up your skincare routine. You might want to skip out on using your retinoid and retinol-containing products or reduce the frequency to using them a few times a week during the summer as they can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. These products work by replacing dead skin cells with new healthy skin cells that are more sensitive and prone to burning from the sun’s UV rays. In addition, avoid heavy foundations and concealers that can clog pores and switch to lighter products. A slightly more acidic cleanser can help control shine and sweat more efficiently during the hot summer months. Look for ones that contain glycolic acid or salicylic acid. Have fun this summer and remember to wear sunscreen daily paired with a wide-brimmed hat!

Expert: Licensed Esthetician Tracy Martin of Tru Skin Esthetics

Tracy Martin|styleblueprint.com

Tracy Martin of Tru Skin Esthetics

What’s your favorite summer skincare product and why?

I don’t leave home without making sure my vitamin C serum is on. In the industry, we refer to it as a powerhouse antioxidant. It lightens, brightens and tightens! Besides the sun, you also have free radical damage, pollution and other environmental components that age and attack the skin, so a professional vitamin C serum is a must! My go-to favorite is the Vitamin C Reversal Serum by Circadia by Dr. Pugliese.

What’s the best thing someone can do to protect his/her skin throughout the summer?

I can’t say it enough, SPF! I like to inform my clients, though the SPF number is important, the quality of ingredients also makes a huge difference in protection. The number tells you how long you have until you need to reapply. So SPF 35-45 daily is needed. I also encourage my clients to invest in a quality wide-brimmed hat. They are super cute and not just needed for the Kentucky Derby! Baseball hats really only cover your forehead and are not enough protection. Don’t forget to put SPF behind your neck, around your ears and chest. My favorite is Circadia’s Light Day SPF 37. It is an environmental protection product, with stem cell technology, UV protection, has anti-aging peptides and full broad protection.

Once you’re burned, what can be done to prevent peeling or damage?

Natural aloe is great. My new favorite soothing ingredient is calendula. It can be found in creams and salves, but my go-to product is Circadia’s Aloe and Calendula Calming Mist. This misting spray not only calms and soothes, but also keeps the skin hydrated. Please no picking or peeling skin prematurely as you can cause more damage!

Best piece of summer skincare advice?

Stay hydrated, get yourself a fun summer hat, and please wear a quality SPF! They are not all created equal, save the inexpensive brands for your body and invest in a quality SPF/antioxidant protection for your face. It’s the only one you get!

Expert: Licensed Esthetician Sherri McGee of Rejuvenate Integrative Wellness

What’s your favorite summer skincare product and why?

Image Skincare Prevention + Daily Ultimate Protection Moisturizer SPF 50. It’s a lightweight product with a built-in broadband spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen providing your skin with ultimate protection and prevention. The best part is, it’s paraben-free!

What’s the best thing someone can do to protect his/her skin throughout the summer?

I know it’s obvious, but minimal sun exposure like wearing a hat while outside and keeping your sunscreen applied every single day.

Once you’re burned, what can be done to prevent peeling or damage?

With a mild sunburn, a pure aloe is still your best go-to for immediate relief; but, as it subsides, I recommend SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum at night to prevent scarring, and Image Skincare Vital C Enzyme Masque each morning to remove the peeling skin. However, if it’s a serious burn with blistering, seek medical care.

Best piece of summer skincare advice?

Hydration is so important when you’re out in extreme heat, inside and out. So, a hyaluronic on your face before your sunscreen in the mornings and lots of water during the day will keep your skin glowing.

Expert: Megan Polichnowski, Lead Laser Medical Esthetician at Infinity MedSpa + Wellness

Infinity Wellness|styleblueprint.com

Megan Polichnowski, Lead Laser Medical Esthetician at Infinity MedSpa + Wellness

What’s your favorite summer skincare product and why?

SUNSCREEN! As trite as it may sound, it is the ultimate summer skincare product. Zinc oxide-based sunscreens scatter, reflect and absorb UVA and UVB rays better than any other sunscreen ingredient on the market. Not only will a great sunscreen protect you from future UV damage, but it can also help erase signs of photo-aging that already exist in your skin, like wrinkles and brown spots. EltaMD has based their entire sun protection line around transparent zinc oxide, so you get incredible protection in a wearable formulation. UV Sport SPF 50 is my go-to for summer as it is oil-free, water-resistant and lightweight.

What’s the best thing someone can do to protect his/her skin throughout the summer?

Be more vigilant about incidental sun exposure. We collect more sun damage over our lifetime with small amounts of daily exposure than with beach trips and boat outings. UPF sun-protective clothing is becoming much more mainstream with companies like Tory Burch, J.Crew, Lululemon and Lilly Pulitzer incorporating more fashionable silhouettes into their lines. UPF measures the amount of UV radiation that penetrates a fabric and reaches the skin, unlike SPF, which is the UVB rating sunscreen. UPF clothing is tightly woven fabric that offers breathable sun protection while out running errands or while hanging out at the beach.

Once you’re burned, what can be done to prevent peeling or damage?

Hop in a time machine and put your sunscreen on! Honestly, once the skin has been burned, the DNA damage is done. DNA damage can result in the destruction of skin cells, which is one of the reasons why the skin peels after a burn. Your body has its own natural mechanisms to repair DNA damage after a sunburn, but not all cells get repaired. Don’t bother with aloe in a bottle. It is over-processed and doesn’t possess the natural anti-inflammatory effects of fresh aloe vera. Drink lots of water, take cool showers, and apply a product with copper peptides, like a copper recovery serum to help your skin repair damaged proteins and stimulate new collagen synthesis.

Best piece of summer skincare advice?

Taking the time to prevent sun damage now will save you time and money down the road. Wear your sunscreen. Don’t actively sunbathe. Increase topical and internal antioxidant protection all year, but especially during the summer, when your exposure is at its highest.

We hope you enjoy the warmer weather. Just be sure to take the time to protect your skin this season!

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