Drink water. Moisturize daily. Wear sunscreen. We’ve heard it all before — and whether it’s coming from a fashion magazine or our mother’s unsolicited advice, it’s hard to know which skin care rules to follow. We asked two dermatologists some of our burning (pun not intended) skincare questions. As it turns out, they agree on almost everything. Here are their professional opinions on all things summer skin care:
We all know that we’re supposed to wear sunscreen every day. But how much should we use?
“In order to get the full protection of the SPF you need to apply at least 1 ounce – a full shot glass worth. Studies show that most people apply less than half the amount they should, which means the actual SPF they have on their body is lower than expected. Sunscreens should be applied 20-30 minutes before sun exposure to allow the ingredients to fully bind to the skin. Reapplying sunscreen every couple of hours and after swimming or sweating is also important.” - Dr. Beleznay
Is it really as bad as they say it is to go without?
“Yes, yes it is. There’s no arguing that wearing sunscreen every day reduces the chances of skin cancer and prevents skin aging.” - Dr. Skotnicki
“Sun protection is an absolute (not only in summer but year-round)! Even though many want that “healthy” sun-kissed look, a tan is a sign of DNA damage and of course sun can cause skin cancer and all those signs of aging like wrinkles and age spots.” - Dr. Beleznay
What are the best sunscreens for face and body?
“There’s no 'best.' It’s what’s best for you. Because everyone’s different. Some people have acne, some people have reactive skin and have itching or burning with sunscreen, some people don’t like a smell. And because sunscreens come in so many different options, there’s really no excuse not to use one. I recommend products, especially sunscreen products, based on the science. I like Bioderma, I like Clinique City Block, and I like Chantecaille for face. In general, for the body, I like Neutrogena and Umbrelle.” - Dr. Skotnicki
“The best sunscreen is the one you will actually use! I find in general people like lighter facial sunscreens, but it really depends on your skin type. Some [of my] favourites include: SkinCeuticals Sheer Physical UV Defense SPF50, SkinMedica Total Defense + Repair SPF50+, La Roche Posay Ultra-fluid Lotion SPF60, and Neutrogena Clear Face Sunscreen Lotion SPF60. I really like sunscreen sticks for kids, as they are easier to put on, and for athletes who sweat a lot. I often also recommend a sunscreen powder for on-the-go repeat application, as some people are not keen about reapplying liquid sunscreen during the day.” - Dr. Beleznay
Are sunspots bad for you and what’s the best way to avoid getting them?
“The spots in and of themselves are not bad for you, but if you have a lot of brown spots, you have a lot of sun damage, so you’re at a higher risk of getting skin cancer. If you don’t want wrinkles or brown spots, well, take a look at your back side! All you need is sun protection. It’s not rocket science.” - Dr. Skotnicki
Is it true that drinking lots of water helps improve your skin?
“While hydrating for better skin makes intuitive sense and many people will claim that their skin looks healthier with more water on board, there is not a lot of reputable research backing this up. However, we do know that water is important for the function of different components of the skin and of course for overall health, so drink up!” - Dr. Beleznay
Is it necessary to moisturize even when it’s humid?“While many moisturize in the winter months, keeping the skin hydrated in the summer is important too. Applying a moisturizer after a shower or bath can help seal in moisture and give your skin a healthy glow.” - Dr. Beleznay
“No. Moisturizing your skin just to moisturize it is not technically necessary. It doesn’t decrease aging. And part of the reason we need to moisturize is because we wash so much. Every time you go in the shower and you wash your face, all those detergents and soaps take out the natural moisturizer in your skin. So that’s why we need to moisturize so much, because we clean so much.” - Dr. Skotnicki
Their top tips for taking care of your skin in the summer:
“Definitely wear sunscreen every day. A good tip for people with kids is to have a basket of sunscreens by the door, because when you have to go looking for something you won’t use it. And check expiry dates, because that’s important.” - Dr. Skotnicki
“Consider putting on an antioxidant like a topical Vitamin C serum in the morning. This can be photoprotective and can improve signs of aging and photodamage while brightening the appearance of the skin.” - Dr. Beleznay
“For people who don’t want to wear sunscreen every day, use a 3-in-1 product like Clinique City Block. It’s tinted so it goes on like a light makeup, and it contains SPF and anti-pollution protection.” - Dr. Skotnicki
Dr. Katie Beleznay is a leading practitioner of both medical and cosmetic dermatology. Dr. Beleznay practices in Vancouver, B.C. at the Seymour Health Centre and at Carruthers & Humphrey Cosmetic Dermatology and also directs the Vancouver Acne & Rosacea Clinic.
Dr. Sandy Skotnicki is the author of the bestselling book, Beyond Soap The Real Truth about What You Are Doing to Your Skin and How to Fix It for a Beautiful, Healthy Glow, and the founder of Toronto's Bay Dermatology Centre and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, divisions of Dermatology and Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of Toronto. She is a consultant dermatologist at Toronto's St. Michael's Hospital. A well-known expert on skin irritants.