A new crop of tasteful—and even chic—UPF options, coupled with some very real concerns about a new constellation of freckles, have made me rethink my position on covering up in protective clothing. “You need to tap into the vanity of it,” Whitney Bowe, M.D., says of a more general uptick in the popularity of UPF clothing that she’s seen among her patients as a steady stream of new brand samples continues to flood her office. “People are just more aware now, not just of the risks of skin cancer but also the risk of aging from the sun,” adds the Manhattan-based dermatologist, who cites dark spots, fine lines, wrinkles, and crepiness as chief offenders. Combined with rising environmental concerns about the harmful chemicals in many sunscreens, which prompted Hawaii to pass a landmark bill this month prohibiting the sale of formulas containing two major ingredients found to seriously impact coral reefs, and it’s little wonder that interest around UPF clothing is swirling.
When I was very little, my mom and sister used to wake me up every July 4th to watch fireworks over the golf course behind our house. It is still one of my favorite memories.
My mom, my sister and I still always get together for the July 4th holiday – now with our daughters – to spend time relaxing at the beach, playing at the pool, and watching the fireworks as a family. It’s one of my favorite holidays and I’m so excited it’s almost here!
As I’m prepping for my holiday weekend, I wanted to share some of my beach essentials with you, to help keep your skin healthy and sun-safe. So, here are my top 4 tips for the 4th:
- The Perfect Faux Glow: I love to rock a golden glow throughout summer. I don’t even want to be tempted to consider tanning, so I make sure that I use self-tanner a day or two before I’m going to be at the beach. Sometimes I opt for a spray tan because it looks so even and beautiful, but if I’m tight on time and just need something quick, I have been loving Sun Bum Self Tanning Towlettes (in Fair to Medium Skin Tones). They contain Vitamin E which helps to moisturize dry skin (our legs are very prone to dry skin due to the absence of oil glands), aloe which is naturally healing and hydrating, and are paraben free. They do have a subtle tropical coconut scent, which I find relaxing and transporting! Be sure to use the wipe in circular motions on dry skin so that you don’t have any streaking and of course, wash your hands after using.
- Moisture wicking workout gear: When I’m on vacation, I slow down my pace and relax with my family. We are a really active family, even on vacation, so I always make sure to pack some workout gear. During summer and in this heat, it’s key to have breathable fabric that’s moisture wicking. Most of my workout gear for summer is made of UPF fabric so that it also doubles as sunscreen for the areas of my skin that are covered. Some of my fave brands include Mott50, Athleta, and Nike.
- Sun protection, of course: I always have my packable, broad-rimmed hat, my sunglasses, my sunscreen, my UPF swimsuit, and of course, my favorite sunscreens. I am asked for sunscreen recommendations all the time. As I mentioned on Good Morning America, product testing by neutral third parties like Consumer Reports is something I value a lot as a dermatologist. I like to see product efficacy studies to support product claims. For that reason, I always have La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios Melt in Milk in UPF 60 with me (consistently ranks first in these studies). I have also been loving Coola’s SPF50 Sport Classic Sunscreen in Fresh Mango scent, which is a certified organic option containing avocado oil to help nourish your skin. I also am very mindful of our environment when it comes to sunscreen use, so I alternate (for myself and my daughter) between using the chemical blockers which test most effective and the physical blockers which do not contain chemicals like oxybenzone or avobenzone. One of my new favorites is Pacifica’s Mineral Sunscreen Coconut Probiotic SPF30 which is free of chemical UV absorbers, PABA, octisalate, octinoxate, and oxybenzone.
- Hydrating Remedies for Post-Sun Skincare: Growing up, we always had an aloe plant in our house so that we could use fresh aloe on our skin as needed. I do the same with my family and so does my sister. In addition to having fresh aloe on hand (which we cut and refrigerate for post-sun skincare), I love to nurture and pamper my skin a little after a day at the beach. One of my favorite new products is Naturopathica’s Manuka Honey Cleansing Balm made with probiotics and peptides. The scent alone of the Manuka honey is such a relaxing and restorative experience and, the cleansing balm as a first step in cleansing my skin is very hydrating and moisturizing. It feels like you’ve been to a spa, which is perfect at the end of a sun-drenched, wonderful summer day.
Happy July 4th and enjoy the fireworks!!
When it comes to sunscreen, we have to remember that infant skin is different than adult skin. Infant skin is much thinner – it protects the body less effectively against outside agents, including chemicals in sunscreen. This is why we see these reports of severe, blistering burns or rashes in very young children when parents use the same sunscreen product on their older children and themselves without issue.
If you have a child under 6 months old, the US Food and Drug Administration and The Skin Cancer Foundation recommend keeping your child in the shade rather than using sunscreen, even physical blockers like zinc oxide. For children over 6 months, I recommend a patch test to make sure that your child is not particularly sensitive, or even allergic, to the ingredients in a particular sunscreen product. This could mean the difference between a sun safe child and a trip to the hospital with blistering, swollen skin.
New York dermatologist, Dr. Whitney Bowe believes not all sunscreens are made equal. She shares her favorite sunscreens for adults and children and reveals why you can’t rely on last year’s lotions.
What is nanotechnology? Nanotechnology is the creation of super-small particles through the manipulation of matter on an atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale. Translation: yes, it’s like science fiction.
Nanotechnology is now used to develop cosmetics and skin care products that contain super small particles designed to do a certain job in the skin. For example, sunscreens can contain zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide nanoparticles to block ultraviolet rays while minimizing the white coating on the skin. When you see the words “invisible” or “sheer” on sunscreen labels, it is likely based on nanotechnology.
The question I get all the time in my office is: Is nanotechnology safe? Check out this video to find out more!
In this video, I focus on an ingredient called oxybenzone. Look for it in your sunscreen — I bet it’s there. You might also see it listed as an ingredient in some of your hair sprays, nail polish, fragrances, and makeup foundations with SPF. There’s been a lot of discussion and concern over whether oxybenzone is safe – not just for us, but also for our environment. The research in this field is truly fascinating and very important – so check it out!
On my social media channels, you guys asked about the safety of chemicals in sunscreen, why certain sunscreens make you look like a ghost, what’s the best type of sunscreen for kids, and how often you should reapply!
In this video, I will answer your questions and more!
To start, I explain the difference between chemical blockers and physical or mineral blockers.
Next, I share which sunscreen choices I make for myself and for my 5 year old daughter who is a fair skinned redhead and therefore, burns easily. As a dermatologist mom, I want to give my daughter the most safe and effective options for sun protection and I love sharing this information with you and your family!
Finally, I share my five key tips about sun protection.
One of the most common questions I’m asked in my office, on social media, and by my friends and family is: which sunscreen do I recommend? There are so many options on the market it is information overload! How do you know what is safe? How do you know what is effective? Does price matter and how about SPF number?
Here’s some quick information at your fingertips to make this much clearer:
I always say, the best sunscreen is the one you will actually use!!!! Here are some of my favorites:
Lotions: For years, I have used and recommended La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios Melt-In Sunscreen Milk SPF 60 because it is smooth, not greasy, and it just plain works. Other great options I have been using lately are Equate (Walmart) Sport Lotion SPF 50 and Coppertone Ultra Guard Lotion SPF 70. For my daughter, I usually opt for Coppertone WaterBabies Lotion SPF 50 or Pure Sun Defense Disney Frozen Lotion SPF 50.
Sprays: Some of my patients prefer a spray to a lotion because it’s so easy to apply. My favorites include Trader Joe’s Spray SPF 50, Banana Boat SunComfort Clear UltraMist Spray SPF 50+ and Equate (Walmart) Sport Continuous Spray SPF 30. Here’s an important safety tip when using spray- never spray directly into your face. It’s not a good idea to inhale spray sunscreens. Instead, spray it into your hands and then rub your hands over your face. Personally, I use spray on my body and opt for lotions or sticks for my face.
Sticks: Two of my top sunscreen sticks are Up & Up (Target) Kids Sunscreen Stick SPF 55 and Neutrogena Beach Defense Water + Sun Protection Stick SPF 50+. For my daughter, I often also opt for Coppertone’s Kids Sunscreen Stick SPF 55. I usually use the stick to apply sunscreen to my face and to my daughter’s face. It’s just so easy not to irritate the eye area using a sunscreen stick. But, make sure to blend in the sunscreen because it’s equally easy not to cover your entire face properly using a stick.
How Can You Tell What to Buy:
When it comes to sunscreen, there are multiple factors which can make a product fail to protect your skin adequately:
- You may not be using enough. I always tell my patients you need a shot glass full of sunscreen to properly cover your face and exposed areas!
- You may not be applying it properly. If you go in the water, reapply. If you are out in the sun for two hours, reapply. If you are going outside, apply 15 minutes before you are in the sun.
- The packaging might not be entirely accurate. While the Food and Drug Administration requires manufacturers to test their products, the agency doesn’t do its own independent testing to verify claims. For this reason, I like to rely on studies done by Consumer Reports which are the result of lots of testing to actually verify that the product works as advertised. Some sunscreens which say right on the bottle they are SPF 50 can test as SPF 10
- It could be expired. Check the date on your sunscreen! Also, if you left your sunscreen in a hot car or on the hot beach last year, throw it out. It won’t work effectively any more. Invest in your skin and buy a new bottle. Many of the best rated options are very affordable!
- Most “Natural” options aren’t holding up to testing as well as their chemical counterparts. Natural or mineral sunscreens that contain titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide, but don’t contain any chemicals, haven’t performed as well. Yes, you can burn through these, and so can your children! If you have very, very sensitive skin and only can tolerate all natural, my current pick is California Kids Supersensitive Lotion SPF 30+.
I will be sharing all kinds of information on this hot subject with you guys over the next few weeks. Check back in for updates! This is such a key subject matter and it shouldn’t be confusing or overwhelming. I am here to help keep you informed and covered so that you practice safe sun this summer!
A few months ago, I posted about this innovative new technology which was on the horizon and now, it’s here!!
As I discussed on Good Morning America today, sunscreen brand La Roche-Posay has developed the “MY UV Patch” which you wear on your skin. The patch is like a little sticker and it’s about ½ the thickness of a human hair, but it’s a very smart sticker! The sticker and its accompanying App monitor the amount of UV exposure you’re getting in real time.
In my practice, I see so many patients who have a tan or sun spots and swear “but I’m NEVER in the sun!” I think this patch will help educate people on how easy it is to accumulate UV exposure even on shady days. It will help you learn when you’re getting the most rays– on your way to work? During your lunch break? Sitting next to the office window at your desk? I think you’ll be surprised!
It will also help you determine WHERE you are getting those rays. People wear products with sunscreen plus makeup on their faces, but often neglect their chests and the tops of their hands, which speeds up aging on those skin surfaces.
As I discussed on air, the patch is water resistant so you can shower and swim with it, exercise with it, and even apply sunscreen directly on it. One really cool aspect of the patch is that you can see how well your sunscreen or SPF makeup is performing at screening out UV rays by monitoring your patch. Burning through your sunscreen? Test your sunscreen on top of the patch and see if it truly delivers. Your makeup says it has SPF 30 in it? Apply it to your patch and see if your patch agrees! So, it will help you figure out which products actually live up to their claims.
Knowledge is power, and this is one more very innovative tool to raise awareness when it comes to sun exposure!