Sunscreen Recommendations- Dr. Jaimie DeRosa, Facial Plastic Surgeon Explains

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What are the best practices when it comes to applying sunscreen? 

The best practice is to wear sunscreen EVERY DAY—no matter the season or type of weather.  Yes, even on a dark, cloudy winter day, you need sunscreen.   It should be the last product that you apply during your morning skincare regime, and look for a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.  Whenever possible, also try to have your sunscreen on for at least 15 minutes before going outside into the sun.  Also, don’t forget your décolleté and neck!  The upper chest and neck skin are thinner than the skin on your face and can show the signs of sun damage more quickly.  

How often should you be reapplying sunscreen?

Sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours when outside or exposed to the sun (such as through a car window).  I make it easy on myself and just keep a small bottle or tube of sunscreen in the bag I’m carrying and in my medicine cabinet, just like you do for lip balm.  

Any tips on how to reapply sunscreen to your body? 

Just like the face, you want to reapply sunscreen to your body every 2 hours when outdoors or exposed to sunlight.  Any part of the body that is open to air can get sun damage, such as sunburns and longer term issues such as loss of skin elasticity, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation (sun spots).

What about when you’re sweating a lot or swimming?  

When at the beach or pool, the best thing is to pat dry your skin after coming out of the water, and then reapply your sunscreen all over your body.  When you’re sweating a lot, try to use a product that is more resistant to sweat, so that it’s not dripping down into your eyes or flying off your skin with the sweat.  

There are a lot of high-quality sunscreens out there these days that are specifically formulated for sweating and water-emersion and also have different methods of application, such as a spray or rub-on stick.

How much product should you be using when reapplying your sunscreen? 

Apply sunscreen as you would your moisturizer—usually a quarter-size for the face, for example.  You want to have enough product applied to give proper coverage, so don’t skimp on your sunscreen!

What are your tips on reapplying sunscreen to your face? Especially when you’ve already applied makeup on for the day. 

One of my favorite sunscreens is a powder-formula - ZO® Skin Health Sunscreen + Powder Broad-Spectrum SPF)—it is slightly tinted, has an easy-to-apply brush applicator and also absorbs the oils on the skin to help decrease shininess.   It won’t mess up your makeup either!

Do you have any specific sunscreen products you love for sunscreen reapplication on the body and face? 

There are 3 things that I look for in sunscreen for myself and my patients:  UV coverage, Ingredients and How it Wears” so to speak.

1. Look for those with ‘broad spectrum’ UV coverage.  Specifically, you want to be sure that the sunscreen you’re using blocks both UVA and UVB rays.  (An easy way to remember the difference between UVA and UVB is that the UVA sunrays cause the skin to Age, and the UVB rays are Bad and can cause skin cancer.)

2. Well formulated sunscreens will have ingredients that effectively block UVA and UVB rays and also may address skin concerns, such as redness or acne.  The two main ways that sunscreens work are with a Physical or a Chemical Barrier.  By and large, the Physical Sunscreens are safer because they don’t absorb into the skin but instead sit on top of the skin to prevent the damaging rays from doing harm.  

Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are “physical” barriers to the sun and now most high-quality sunscreens, such as those from ZO® Skin Health and Elta MD® Skincare, are micronized which means they go on smoothly and don’t leave a white residue.

Other ingredients that can give additional benefits are niacinamide (Vitamin B3), lactic acid, and Vitamin E.  The niacinamide is an anti-inflammatory and helps to decrease redness, so it’s great for those with skin conditions such as rosacea and acne.  

3. The “wear” or “cosmetic elegance” of the sunscreen is a huge one for me, and I look for those that apply easily and smoothly, don’t leave a white residue, and, when desired, also give a healthy tint to my skin.  As a facial plastic surgeon, some of my favorites are Elta MD® Skincare’s UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 (it comes in Tinted and non-tinted) and ZO® Skin Health’s Sunscreen + Powder Broad-Spectrum SPF 45 Medium.

Are there any big no-nos when it comes to sunscreen reapplication? 

Not really—the biggest ‘no-no’ regarding sunscreen reapplication is not doing it!  Now that we all have hand sanitizer at the ready, it’s easy to be sure that your hands are clean before applying the sunscreen, so just be sure to do it every 2 hours (and more when in the water).