Summer is the season to show more skin — and that puts our skin health and appearance at the forefront. But with so many different claims coming from the products on the market, it can be easy to waste time and money on things that just don’t work or don’t make sense.
Dr. Lisa Kellett, a dermatologist at DLK on Avenue and a member of the Canadian Dermatology Association, educates her patients about skin health and recommends treatments that work. Follow her advice and chances are you’ll feel more comfortable in your own skin this summer.
Myth #1: Slathering on sunscreen can be dangerous
“Sunscreen should be your number-one priority,” says Dr. Kellett. “And it isn’t just a matter of protecting your skin from different cancers; it’s also your best anti-aging defence.”
With reports that the ingredients found in sunscreen can cause more harm than good, Dr. Kellett offers the following advice:
1. Use a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher on exposed areas every day. “It should be part of your morning routine, like brushing your teeth,” she advises. “If you wear makeup, the steps to follow are cleanse, tone, sunscreen, moisturizer and then makeup.”
Expert tip: Dr. Kellett says that there’s no evidence that an SPF of 60 or over causes harm. “There was one study — but none of the findings were substantiated or verified. Unfortunately, that study led to a lot of misinformation.” As with anything health-related, if you still have questions or concerns, speak to your doctor or dermatologist. You should also speak to your healthcare provider about taking a daily vitamin D supplement. While we should never be without proper SPF coverage, it may interfere with vitamin D absorption from the sun’s rays.
2. Look for a DIN or NPN. “Buy a sunscreen with a Drug Identification Number (DIN) or Natural Product Number (NPN) to ensure that the product has been approved by Health Canada,” she says. These numbers let you know that sunscreen has been tested for safety and quality and that the product claims have been verified.
3. Ensure that the sunscreen provides broad-spectrum coverage with both UVA and UVB protection. The packaging will specify this. While it’s easy to find broad-spectrum coverage at your local pharmacy, make sure you check before you buy while on vacation or where sunscreen products are limited.
4. Reapply as directed, which includes after swimming or sweating and if you’re outside for more than a few hours.
5. Wear sunscreen every day, year-round, even when you’re staying indoors. “Cloudy, overcast or rainy, follow your sunscreen routine regardless of what’s happening outside,” says Dr. Kellett. “Even on a cloudy day, as much as 80% of the sun’s rays can pass through, so don’t take any chances. And if you’re staying indoors, stick to your routine to make it a habit. That way, you’re protected no matter what.”
6. Consider clothing, swimwear and activewear with UPF. If you’re going to be outside for long stretches of time or if your skin is highly sun-sensitive, protective clothing could be your best option. “Check clothing tags for an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating,” she explains. UPF ratings go from 15 to 50.
Myth #2: There’s finally a cure for cellulite
“Unfortunately, there is no permanent solution for cellulite,” says Dr. Kellett. “Not even liposuction can get rid of cellulite for good.” That’s the bad news; the good news is that there’s something you can do to improve the appearance of cellulite.
“New FDA-approved treatments, like Synergie, can improve the appearance of cellulite for the entire summer,” she recommends. “See your dermatologist in May or June and you’re good to go.”
As for creams, Dr. Kellett says that there is no cream that permanently gets rid of cellulite.
Myth #3: One zap of a laser and unwanted hair is gone
“Permanent hair reduction has come a long way, but you still need multiple visits to get the job done,” says Dr. Kellett. “Fortunately, it’s not necessarily as expensive as people may think. And there’s new technology that combines vacuum and suction to make treatments more comfortable and effective.”
Prices vary and you’ll likely be quoted per treatment. The number of treatments you’ll need depends on the type of hair you have and the size of the area you want treated. Also note that blond and red hair may be more difficult to treat.
Myth #4: 10 glasses of water makes skin radiate with health
“If you’re healthy, your skin looks healthy,” clarifies Dr. Kellett. “And while drinking plenty of fluids is good for your overall health, there’s no evidence that drinking 10 glasses of water improves your skin.”
Myth #5: You just have to live with summertime chafing
Higher temperatures, less clothing and being more active can translate into chafing — both the skin-on-skin and clothing-on-skin kind. “You can buy a barrier cream at your local pharmacy,” she says. “Ask your pharmacist to recommend one for adults.”