Summer is here! For several weeks now, in states where we have experienced a long, harsh winter, the weather is finally changing and bathing suits, beach towels and sandals can be seen more and more. This list of “summer must-haves” is missing something… Did you notice?
Although this is a much-discussed topic, mainly because of the high indices of melanoma in the last years, many women still believe they don’t need sunscreen. Some of them simply ignore the issue and others think that even if they put their skin at risk, they will never suffer the consequences.
I left this trend a long time ago, but because I am still concerned about the issue, I decided to ask Dr. Alicia Barba for advice, an expert in cosmetic dermatology and owner of Barba Dermatology and Barba Skin Clinic in the city of Miami.
How can we prepare our skin for the transition from cold to hot weather?
Start your routine with a gentle exfoliation using a body cleanser that cleans and hydrates at the same time. I recommend the Dove Gentle Exfoliating Beauty Bar as it doubles as a facial & body cleanser, and provides superior care over premium soap bars. Its gentle exfoliating beads wash away dead skin while its 1/4 moisturizing cream, hydrates and leaves skin soft and smooth. In addition to your shower routine, sun protection is key as the damage you’re doing today will come back around when you’re older. Look for an SPF 30 or higher and where it daily. Today’s market there is no excuse for not wearing SPF daily, especially in the summer. They come in different shades with different consistencies and some even provide complete coverage for the face. Lastly, I always remind my patients not to neglect the other areas of their body that require gentle care. Our underarms are often an area we forget about, but in the summer, we find ourselves constantly shaving or waxing, which causes a lot of friction and sometimes irritation to this sensitive area. To combat this, I remind my patients to always use a gel or moisturizing shaving cream prior to shaving, and follow-up with a deodorant that provides moisturization in addition to protection. One of my favorites is Dove Invisible Dry Spray, it offers 48-hour odor and wetness protection, ¼ moisturizers AND leaves no white marks on 100 colors of clothing all for under $6 – with those triple benefits, you get a real bang for your buck, while also caring for your skin.
Why is it important to take care of our skin?
Our skin is the largest organ in the body, bigger than the liver and bigger than the heart and unlike your other organs; your skin is always on display. Its main purpose is to protect you: infections, dehydration, UV damage… you name it.
The majority of us care what it looks like, especially in warmer weather when more of it is on display. For your skin to look its best and be healthy, free of inflammation and rashes, this organ requires constant care. Not only does it require gentle cleansing and moisturizing, but a lot of protection from the sun’s damaging rays in order to avoid sun spots and worse skin cancer. Skin that is not taken care of will begin to “break down,” it may get itchy, break out in acne or even get infected.
What is the biggest mistake most Latina women make when it comes to skin care?
I find that a lot of us feel that somehow genetically we have more “resistant skin”. That translates to not needing to wear sunscreen and not having to worry about the consequences of premature aging, sun damage and skin cancer later on in life. Living in Miami where the majority of my patients are Latina, I find that this is absolutely not true, even in darker skin tones. Sometimes I get thrown for a loop when performing a skin exam in a darker skin Latina and find skin cancer and can’t believe it. Then they reveal that they grew up in Miami, Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic for example, and were exposed to a lot of sun. Intense sun exposure can overpower any natural protection from melanin (assuming that we have enough of it.)
What tips would you give to a female entrepreneur who is always busy and almost never has time to indulge her skin?
Entrepreneurs starting their own enterprises who are in front of clients, potential clients or investors definitely need thick skin, that is for sure. Believe it or not, the way our skin looks matters simply because it can be a reflection of our mental or physical health. One of the things I find in highly stressed individuals is excessive picking at the skin. Never do this as it can lead to scarring. If you are on the go, keep your routine simple. For your face, use a gentle cleanser that does not over strip the skin and combine with a tinted sunscreen/moisturizer. I usually mix in a tiny amount of highlighter for an extra natural glow. At nighttime, use a retinol-based product to treat any stress induced breakouts or dark spots, layered with moisturizer. You can even mix the two on one hand and apply. Don’t forget an eye cream if you are starting to see fine lines and wrinkles around your eyes.
Should a woman protect her skin from the sun only on a beach or pool day?
Latinas are at risk for pigmenting or getting “manchas”, especially if we are on birth control. Always protect your skin and always wear sunscreen SPF 30 or higher and seek shade, not only on beach or pool days. Once sunspots are present, they are chronic and even a little bit of sun will cause them to flare.