21 Sep 2023 | by Leonard Miller, MD, FACS, FRCS

My favorite sunscreen for outdoor activities is UV Sport by Elta MD.

Skincare is a cornerstone of my practice as a Board-Certified dermatologist. While most is customized to your individual needs, there are two products that I recommend to almost every patient, regardless of age or gender. They are:

  • Retinoid
  • Sunscreen

As an avid runner, I love being outside. It’s my happy place. But I hate the aging effect that the sun has on my skin. This is why I have tried almost every sunscreen on the market. Sunscreen is like drinking from the fountain of youth as it helps prevent and/or delay many of your most common skin agers.  

Why Sunscreen is a Skin Savior

Since I specialize in lasers and laser skin rejuvenation, I spend a lot of time working to diminish the appearance of:

  • Fine lines & wrinkles
  • Brown spots
  • Melasma
  • Redness
  • Broken blood vessels
  • Rosacea

All of these issues are exacerbated by time spent in the sun. If you are in doubt about the sun’s corrosive effects on your skin, compare your low belly to your left forearm. The difference in skin tone and texture will astound you. One of the best ways to keep your skin looking as youthful as possible for as long as possible is to really commit to a regular sunscreen regime. This means applying sunscreen everyday, rain or shine.

Sunscreen 101

The key with sunscreen is to find one that you like so that you will actually use it. It can be chemical based, mineral based or a combination of the two. However, it must be:

  • SPF 30 or higher
  • Broad spectrum (protects against UVA & UVB rays)

Also, I am not a fan of aerosol or spray sunscreens. They just don’t provide adequate coverage. I prefer a lotion. And if you are going to the beach or doing an outdoor activity like running, you want to choose a sunscreen that is waterproof so that it stays in place and doesn’t run into your eyes. I tend to keep an arsenal of different sunscreens for different needs. Here are a few of my favorites.

Sunscreen Picks

My favorite sunscreen for outdoor activities is UV Sport by Elta MD. Many of my male patients like Neutrogena’s Dry Touch which you can easily find at your drug store or Target. Another over-the-counter(OTC) brand that I recommend is Babyganics. For daily use, I want a lighter feeling sunscreen. UV Clear by Elta MD is excellent. It goes on clear, making it a favorite for men, and is ideal if you have oily skin. If you want a sunscreen that is also moisturizing, I like their UV Daily. It offers excellent protection and feels lovely. Another brand that I often recommend for everyday use is Revision Intellishade. I prefer the original formula as it delivers a slight glow and glowing skin is healthy looking skin. But they also have a matte formula if you prefer that look. And Aveeno’s Positively Radiant is a nice OTC choice. We carry both Elta Md and Intellishade here at Boston Center for Plastic Surgery.

Play Around

I really like to encourage my patients to play around with sunscreen. This is easier for women than men who tend to be more creatures of habit. The important thing if you are a guy is to just find your sunscreen and stick with it. Generally, it is the wives and the girlfriends who are buying the sunscreen, but men are definitely starting to pay more attention to skincare which makes me happy. As women, we are more accustomed to playing around with our products — even swapping things out by season. So, if you haven’t tried a tinted sunscreen, give it a whirl. It can be a nice alternative to foundation. The other thing that I love about a tinted sunscreen is that it provides more protection as the tint contains iron oxide.

Don’t Forget to Reapply

There are two mistakes that almost everyone makes when it comes to sunscreen. The first is not applying enough. In order to protect your body, you need to use a golf ball sized amount of sunscreen. So, if you exercise outside daily or are vacationing at the beach, you should go through a bottle of sunscreen a week. Obviously, in the winter months, you will have less skin exposed, and will need less sunscreen. But this is just a good visual reminder that in order to achieve the SPF protection on the outside of the bottle, you have to actually use the bottle.

The second mistake that everyone makes is that they forget to reapply. Sunscreen must be reapplied every 2 hours in order to maintain its efficacy. If you go swimming or sweat heavily, you will need to reapply even more often. This is fine when you are already sweaty and not wearing makeup, but most women do not want to put a gooey lotion over their foundation and blush. This is why I like Zo Powder Sun (also available at the office). You can brush it over your face while keeping your makeup intact. It’s also a great option for the hairline and/or bald spots. A good habit to adopt, once life is back to normal, is to apply some of this powder on your way to work AND on your way home.

Hats & UPF Clothing

Another way to protect your hairline and scalp, which are both common areas for skin cancer, is with a hat. But not a baseball hat. It just won’t give your face adequate protection on a sunny day and it leaves the back of your neck exposed. You want a wide brimmed hat, especially if you are a redhead, blonde or have thinning hair. There are also numerous companies like Coolibar® that make sun protective clothing which can be a nice option if you can’t stand the feel of a lot of sunscreen or simply want an extra layer of protection. So, there you go. The best anti-ager for your skin is to protect it from the sun by wearing sunscreen.

To find out more about medical grade skincare and laser skin rejuvenation to address sun damage at the Boston Center for Plastic Surgery, contact us today or call (617) 735- 8735 to schedule a consultation.

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