Dr. Katie Beleznay

Vancouver Skin Care Specialist

Dr. Katie Beleznay is a leading medical and cosmetic dermatologist specializing in the latest treatments to repair and rejuvenate the skin

Filtering by Tag: sun protection

Summer Sun Tips & Best Sunscreens for 2019

May is skin cancer awareness month and as we move into the summer months, I thought I’d share some tips to help protect your skin in the sun. I’ve also provided some recommendations on my favorite sunscreens below.

o Whenever possible, avoid direct exposure to the sun between 10 am and 3 pm, when UVB is most intense.

o If avoiding the sun is not possible, cover up with clothing as much as possible and wear a broad brimmed hat to protect your face. 

o Always use a high SPF (30+) broad spectrum sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection factor.

o The higher the SPF the better.  While there seems to be a persistent myth that once you get over a certain SPF it doesn’t matter, in fact, studies have shown that higher SPF sunscreens do provide more protection.

o Most people under apply sunscreen by half. So apply liberally and remember to reapply!

o Spread sunscreen, don't rub it in. Best protection is achieved from a uniform layer on the surface of the skin.

o Contrary to some common myths, chemical sunscreens and physical sunscreens are both effective forms of protection. What is most important is to find a sunscreen formulation that you like and will actually use!

o Think about sun protection and sun damage at a cumulative level. Protecting from a sunburn today is important, but long-term protection from skin cancers and photoaging is critical (and can save your life!)

o Using sunscreen on a daily basis can significantly reduce your risk of various forms of skin cancer including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.


Some of my recommended sunscreens

Some of my recommended sunscreens

I'll wrap this up by providing a list of sunscreens that I personally like. Each person is different and my recommendations will vary depending on your skin type ie. oily, sensitive etc.  but this is a great set of products to choose from.

o   La Roche Posay Anthelios XL Stick Sunscreen SPF60

Love this for my kids’ faces! Easy to apply and I’m less likely to get sunscreen in their eyes as they squirm. It’s also good for people who work out or sweat a lot.  I use it on the back of my hands and lips.

o   Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush-on Sunscreen Powder SPF 50

I like this sunscreen as a top up throughout the day! It’s easy to apply (dust powder on), it’s easy to carry (throw it in a purse or bag), and for those that wear makeup you don’t have to worry about reapplying a sunscreen over top of your foundation. 

o   Vichy Mexoryl XL Sun Protection Cream SPF60

This is a good work horse for all over sun protection, goes on smooth and is well tolerated

o   SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50

I like this one for the face. It’s purely mineral, light weight and has a nice tint to it.

o   Neutrogena Clear Face Sunscreen Lotion with Helioplex SPF 60

Many of my acne prone patients like this one - it’s inexpensive, easy to apply and tends to be well tolerated

o   Reversa Radiance Cream 4% Glycolic Acid SPF30

I like this for the winter months or days when I’m not spending the day at the beach (or else I go up higher in SPF).  It is well tolerated and has some other perks such as glycolic acid for brighter skin.

o   SkinMedica Total Defense + Repair Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 50+

While not pictured (I just ran out!), this is another go to of mine. It also acts as a superscreen to protect against infrared rays

Summer Sunscreen Tips

When it comes to sunscreen the most important thing is that you use it! However, even when people are diligent about wearing sunscreen they may still be putting their skin at risk. I wanted to address a few things that everyone needs to know to ensure maximum protection for your skin.

The most common mistake people make when using sunscreen is not using enough and not applying it frequently enough. Sunscreen should form a film on the skin when initially applied. A good rule of thumb is to use 1 oz of sunscreen to cover your body (though obviously this needs to be adjusted based on your body type). Sunscreen should be applied at least 20 minutes before going out in the sun and reapplied every two hours, no matter what SPF.

Sunscreens should be a minimum of 30 SPF but I always suggest the higher (SPF) the better. In the morning we recommend that sunscreen go on after moisturizers or other creams, but before makeup. Always reapply sunscreen after swimming or sweating and apply it on dry skin. 

We recommend using sunscreen daily all year round as the sun’s rays reflect off surfaces such as snow, sand and even concrete, so be sure to protect your skin. In addition to sunscreen it is recommended to wear photo-protective clothing and always wear a hat when spending any extended time in the sun. Beyond the risk of skin cancer, the sun can also lead to signs of premature aging like wrinkles and brown spots. If your skin is already sun damaged it is important to do regular skin checks.

The weather is heating up and I know everyone is excited to get out in the sun. If you follow the advice above your skin (and your dermatologist) will thank you!

The Great Sunscreen Controversy

The title of this post is a bit misleading because in my mind there really is no controversy. Based on the available evidence, sunscreen is not a danger to your health. But we know that not wearing it is!

There has been a great deal of media attention recently following the release of the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) annual sunscreen guide, which called out several brands for “inferior sun protection” or worrisome ingredients. While I believe EWG is trying to work in the public interest, unfortunately the way this information is often reported can be counter-productive to public health when it leads to people exposing themselves to harmful UV rays because they are unnecessarily worried about the sunscreen they’ve been using.

One of EWG’s favorite targets is the chemical oxybenzone, which they claim can be carcinogenic. A study in rats showed possible estrogenic and antiandrogenic effects with exposure to a high dose of oxybenzone. However, it was estimated that it would take 277 years of daily application of sunscreen to reach the same level of exposure in humans. The safety profile of oxybenzone is supported by both the US FDA and Health Canada.

Unfortunately the EWG test methods lack the rigor of peer-reviewed, scientific evaluation. Oxybenzone has been used in the US since the 1970’s with prevalence of exposure estimated to be 96% of the population. And the Canadian Cancer Society has already issued a statement refuting the cancer-causing claim.

EWG also makes the claim that sunscreens labeled with SPF values higher than 50 do not provide additional protection. The fact is that most consumers do not apply sufficient sunscreen, generally applying only 25-50% of the amount used for SPF testing. This results in an effective SPF that is about 33% of the labeled SPF. As such, higher SPFs can help counteract the under application effect.

I wrote this to help address inquiries I get from patients and ensure people are properly protecting themselves from sun damage. I invite you to take a moment to review my Top 10 Sun Protection Tips