Master Esthetician & skincare guru Patty Huang worked miracles on my skin during my most recent visit to Le Spa de l’hôtel Lotte inside Lotte Hotel Seattle in Seattle, Washington, and helped my skin glow like never before. During my time with her, we discussed how one of the most important things a person can do to take care of their skin is to prevent damage in the first place, and one of the easiest ways to protect your skin from damage is to limit sun exposure. This Q&A with Patty is all about summer skincare and sun safety and how to pick the best sunscreen for your skin. This advice isn’t just for summer; however, sunscreen should be worn all year long.
View Patty’s winter skincare Q&A here.
Q: What changes should we make to our summer skincare routines during warmer weather?
A: Most importantly, change up our creams. Like clothes that we put away seasonally, we also need to change out heavier, thicker creams for lighter ones that allow our skin to breathe.
If you don’t already wear sunscreen whenever you go outside, you should be certain to do so during the summer.
Q: What are the best ingredients to look for in sunscreen?
A: Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are two of the most effective sunscreen ingredients. Both absorb the sun’s damaging rays and reflect them off the skin. Unfortunately, there aren’t any 100% organic or completely environmentally friendly SPF products on the market; they are all produced in a lab. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approves these two ingredients because they are the least damaging to the environment and human health.
Q: Are there any sunscreen ingredients, or brands, of sunscreen that we should avoid?
A: This has been a frequent topic in the news lately. I recommend avoiding products that contain the following ingredients:
Oxybenzone, octinoxate, and homosalate are ingredients that can lead to allergies, disrupt the reproductive system, and affect levels of toxicity in the body. Nanoparticles are 1000x small than one fine hair. Some SPFs use nanotechnology (titanium oxide, which is molecularly different from titanium dioxide), and this technology is still too new to fully understand if any harm can come to our bodies from it. As a result, it’s best to avoid these ingredients until we know more about them.
Sadly, all the ingredients listed above also cause varying degrees of environmental damage, as they are not biodegradable materials. Others harm our aquatic life system (however, you can look for “reef safe” formulas). Reef safe formulations are important because once buoyant red and orange corals are now depleted and damaged as a result of these chemicals entering the oceans on swimmer’s & surfer’s bodies. In some parts of the ocean, once biodiverse regions are now absent of marine life, due to chemical pollution from sunscreens with harsh chemicals.
Q: How often should sunscreen be reapplied when swimming? When outside walking/biking/hiking?
A: A good rule for water sports is to reapply and soon as you get out of the water, or every 90 – 120 minutes. While walking, biking, and hiking, remember, “If you sweat, reset!” Reapply every 2-3 hours, or more often if you burn easily and have very fair skin. Darker skin tones also require sunscreen and frequent reapplications.
Q: During which step in a summer skincare routine should sunscreen be applied?
A: Sunscreens should be applied before (underneath) makeup. Multi-use products such as BB or CC creams need SPF mixed into them to be considered protectorants, as they lack key sun-shunning ingredients. An added benefit of mixing up this kind of formula is added hydration for the skin.
Q: Should we use a different type of sunscreen for our faces than we would on our bodies?
A: I believe we should. The thickness of a facial SPF is different than formulas designed for the body. Body SPFs may contain a gel base to stay on the body longer, especially for athletes. This may be too harsh and drying for facial skin, or it can easily clog facial pores. Using a sunscreen specifically designed for the face can circumvent this and help decrease summer breakouts’ frequency and severity.
Q: What is the best way to protect our lips and under-eye areas from sun damage?
A: Today’s lipstick and gloss formulas often contain SPF, but you can manually mix some sunscreen into your lipsticks and balms for extra protection if your favorite products don’t already include SPF. Use the same SPF as you use for the face for eyes and eyelids, but opt for sunglasses coated with UV protection overtop. Choose an eye cream with SPF, too. UVA/UVB rays can seriously damage the retina, causing sight-impairing cataracts, decreased vision, and over time can contribute to the determination of eyesight.
Q: What else should we know about sun safety and summer skincare?
A: Regardless of your skin color or where you live, everyone needs sunscreen with at least SPF30. Don’t forget to cover your hands and feet, too.
Visit your skin specialist or dermatologist yearly to check for skin cancers. Remember, when we choose healthy, effective skincare products, we are also choosing ingredients that protect our ever-fragile environment.
Have more summer skincare questions? Ask them below, and Patty will answer them for you!
You can follow Master Esthetician Patty Huand on Instagram at @GetThePattyGlow or email her at SeattleFacialist@gmail.