Experts share tips on keeping skin beautiful all summer long
Kristen Hammes, Dreams MedSpa
Village Pointe Aesthetic Surgery | Dreams MedSpa
17617 Burke Street, Omaha, NE 68118 (P) 402-596-4000
C.Q. Thompson, M.D., Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery
Clarkson West Medical Center, 2727 S. 144th St., Suite 205
(P) 402-778-5555, cqthompson.com
Jamie Carman, Skincerely Yours Salon and Spa
12033 Blondo St.
Summertime fun means shorts, sandals, swimsuits and bronzed skin. But as people head outdoors, they are also more vulnerable to the dangers of sun overexposure, including skin cancer and prematurely aged skin.
Omaha experts say protecting sun-exposed skin now can go a long way in preventing future skin problems. For individuals already experiencing the aging effects of sun exposure, new skin care techniques and treatments can help.
“Prevention is always the best option, but if you already have visible damage, there are a number of options available to help reverse it,” said Kristen Hammes, nurse practitioner at Dreams MedSpa.
The experts offered several tips to keep skin happy and healthy in the summer months.
When it comes to preventing damage from the sun, one product rises to the top of the list: sunscreen. “We can’t stress the importance of sunscreen enough,” said Jamie Carman, owner and esthetician at Skincerely Yours.
However, navigating the many sunscreen products available can be tricky for consumers. Sunscreens are labeled with an SPF (sun protection factor) that refers to the ability of sunscreen to block the sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, which can cause sunburns, but not ultraviolet A (UVA) rays, which are more closely linked to deeper skin damage, Hammes said.
“It is more important than ever to use the right sunscreen, yet it is more difficult than ever to know which sunscreen to choose,” she said.
An SPF 15 product blocks about 94 percent of UVB rays; an SPF 45 product blocks about 98 percent of UVB rays. Hammes suggests looking for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to protect against both types of rays. “Look for the ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which protect against UVA rays by acting like tiny mirrors on the skin by reflecting and absorbing rays,” she said.
For optimal protection, apply sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every two hours regardless of the SPF, Hammes said. And don’t be stingy. “You need a tablespoon of sunscreen to cover your entire face, including ears, and a shot-glass sized amount to cover your body,” she said.
Wearing sunscreen is especially important for individuals that burn easily, including people of Irish, English and Northern European ancestry, said Dr. Chester Q. Thompson, a cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon. People with light skin should use a high SPF product and cover their face, chest and extremities, he said.
Quality sunscreen products can help avoid problems in oily or acne-prone skin. Carman at Skincerely Yours favors Revision’s Intellishade tinted moisturizer that offers broad-spectrum sun protection while also multitasking as a moisturizer and foundation, she explained.
Additional prevention measures include wearing long-sleeved shirts, wide-brimmed hats and avoiding the sun’s most intense rays between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thompson said.
Avoid tanning and quit smoking
While many men and women aspire to sport a bronze glow, using the tanning bed to achieve it is often more dangerous than the sun itself. “Tanning beds emit up to 12 times the UVA rays of the sun,” Thompson said. People who tan in beds are more likely to get skin cancer compared to non-tanners, he said.
Because of the effects of smoking, smokers are also more likely to experience prematurely aging skin. Nicotine reduces blood flow and damages the elastin fibers that keep skin tight and healthy looking. “Smoking plus sun dramatically accelerates the aging of skin,” he said.
Choose sun-friendly makeup
Multiple makeup brands offer sun protection built right into the product. Carman at Skincerely Yours prefers Glo Minerals, a line that offers makeup with SPF 30. “Our clients are hooked on the ease of applying their tinted moisturizer, a touch of bronzer and being ready to leave the house,” she said.
At Dreams MedSpa, Hammes recommends Jane Iredale SPF products that incorporate a physical sunscreen. The SPF products are water-resistant for up to 40 minutes, and several have earned the Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Recommendation.
To further simplify beauty routines during the summer months, Carman likes eyelash extensions. The application of the extensions takes about an hour; faux lashes are applied to a client’s individual lashes while her eyes remain closed. Thicker lashes mean women need one less product in their makeup bag. “No need for mascara makes this the ultimate treatment for summer,” she said.
To care for a fresh burn, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends slathering on moisturizing cream or lotion with vitamin C and vitamin E. Drinking extra water, juice and sports drinks can prevent dehydration, an effect of the burn drawing fluid to the skin surface and away from the rest of the body. Ibuprofen, taken at the first sign of sunburn and for 48 hours, can reduce the swelling and redness associated with sunburn.
To help calm sunburned skin, Carman suggests a soothing oatmeal facial. “Our estheticians cleanse with calming ingredients and use a colloidal oatmeal mask that is incredible at taking out redness and soothing the skin,” she said.
In addition to damaging the skin, sun exposure can also damage hair. The sun’s UV rays can damage hair’s keratin protein fibers, breaking down strands. Finer, lighter hair is typically more prone to damage than darker, thicker hair, Carman said. “Finding a treatment that can effectively repair this is the key to getting your hair to a healthy state again,” she said.
To repair hair, Carman recommends Keratin Complex products, which contain natural keratin protein to rejuvenate hair. “Clients love this to improve dry time and make their hair more manageable when spending time outdoors, in the pool or in humid environments,” she said.
While the initial pain of a sunburn goes away in a matter of days, the more serious effects of sun damage do not appear until later in life, Dr. Thompson said. “Damage in youth will usually take years or decades to appear, but never goes away,” he said.
However, multiple treatments can help to reverse the effects of earlier sun damage, including sunspots and uneven pigmentation. Mild sun damage may be treated with an at-home skin care regimen, Hammes said. “Ingredients to look for that are proven to lighten skin include hydroquinone, kojic acid and retin-A,” she said.
Effective products include the Obagi Nu-Derm line and SkinMedica’s Lytera system, she said.
In addition to an at-home regimen, Dr. Thompson recommends Fraxel laser skin resurfacing. The treatment smoothes lines, evens out skin pigmentation and discoloration, and improves skin tone and texture. For individuals with early signs of elastin damage to the skin, he recommends Ultherapy, a non-surgical ultrasound treatment that lifts, tightens and tones loose skin. The procedure is a one-time treatment with no downtime.
A series of mild to moderate chemical peels can also be useful for the treatment of sun damage and offers the advantage of little down time, Hammes said.
Carman cautioned that not all chemical peels are created equally. A client with a people-facing job may opt for multiple, mild peels that create no downtime. On the other hand, a client who is able to take a week of downtime may opt for a deeper peel, she said.
Take your vitamins
While the dangers of sun overexposure are clear, the sun does offer some benefits. Sunlight promotes vitamin D production, which in turn promotes good bone health and improves the immune system, Dr. Thompson said.
To get the benefits of vitamin D without risking exposure, Thompson suggests taking oral vitamin D replacements to obtain at least 1,000 international units of the vitamin per day.