Ah, summertime. School is out and the living's easy. That is, until you finish school and you're working full time. Wait, when did I become an adult?
Although the summer months are typically a time to show more skin while we enjoy fun in the sun, it's important that we don't forget to protect it as much as possible.
Although I am now an adult working a full-time job and summer vacation is no longer etched onto my calendar, I can't help but think of the summer months in the same way that I used to. I grew up in Florida, so beach trips were frequent. I am thankful that my mother encouraged us to wear our sunscreen. I had a patient in her twenties develop skin cancer on her face that required a surgical excision. Nobody wants that!
The prevention of skin cancer is the most important reason one should wear sunscreen, but there are other major benefits to protecting the skin as well. Have you ever seen an elderly man or woman with purple arms because they bruise with the slightest impact? Chronic sun damage attributes to this crepe-like paper-thin skin that bruises easily. Over time damage from the sun thins the dermis, or the deeper layer of the skin. Sure, aging plays a role in collagen loss as well, but there's not much we can do about that part.
And by now can we all agree that the sun accelerates signs of aging? When I have an elderly patient with great skin, I love to ask, "what's your secret?" Most of these ladies with gorgeous skin will shrug and say, "I always just used moisturizer in the morning with sunscreen."
Consider this photo from The New England Journal of Medicine (1):
There are far more wrinkles and signs of aging on the left side of his face. The left side of his face has had more sun exposure over his 28 years of driving a truck.
Skin care is self-care. "I wish I didn't take such good care of my skin", said nobody ever. Re-apply your sunscreen every 2 hours or more frequently if you're getting into the water. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, or a baseball cap if you're more active. Let's protect our skin this summer!
About the author:
And while we're talking self-care, let's touch even more on skin care. I have not gathered any studies to back this up, but I am sure that there is a link between skin care and mental health. Having a routine to wash your face, wear a mask, put on a moisturizer, etc. are to some people as decompressing as taking a bubble bath, doing yoga, or reading in bed. It's something that is typically performed in solitude, in your bathroom, without distractions from the world. Can you tell I don't have kids?
If you don't already have a go-to skin care routine, I challenge you to start one this summer! Pick a cleanser, a daytime moisturizer with SPF 30 or higher, and evening moisturizer. It doesn't have to be anything fancy or expensive. My favorite drugstore brands are Neutrogena, Cerave or Cetaphil products; all of these can be found at Target. Ten years from now you will be so glad that you did!
Stephanie Gebara, MPAS, PA-C is a dermatology physician assistant who graduated Cum Laude from the University of Florida. Outside of work, Stephanie describes herself as a skincare junkie, and she loves to try new products and DIY procedures while displaying her white coat style. Follow Stephanie on Instagram!