The Truth About Summer & Your Skin From a Top New York Dermatologist

When you’re sitting at a picnic table with a ketchup-drenched burger and icy beer in your hand, reveling in the sun’s heavenly gaze upon your back, it’s easy to forget about that one little thing you’ve carried with you since birth: your skin—which is probably getting burned. Perhaps you forgot to put on sunscreen, or maybe you applied that from-the-depths-of-the-bathroom-cabinet sunblock that was around when you won the 6th grade spelling bee. Or perhaps you’ve just shunned it entirely, deeming it "too greasy, and thick, and smelly" and other blah blah blah-related BS. Well, you’ll stop now. Because thanks to a conversation with one of New York’s top dermatologists—Dr. Debra Jaliman—it’s clear that how you treat your skin today, on this gorgeous summer day, dictates how your skin will look for the rest of your life. As the author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist, Dr. Jaliman shares some shocking truths with us about sunscreen, aging, moles, and how Botox can save your iife. 

Your book has 12 chapters devoted to sunblock.
Yes, because it’s the least-expensive way to really prevent sun damage. So many times people come here and they want to spend a lot of money correcting things that they think are aging changes in their skin when, in fact, they’re sun damage. People say “I have these brown spots, these wrinkles, these age spots, these liver spots,” but they’re actually just caused by the sun. People come and do fillers, they do botox, and then I say, “Let me tell you about sunscreen” and they say, “No, no, no, I’m not interested.” And then I try to explain to them that they’re going to spend thousands of dollars on all these treatments and laser procedures, but if you don’t use a good sunscreen—one that’s right for your skin with the right chemicals and is not expired!—then all that money is really wasted. 

I was so surprised to read in your book that wrinkles aren’t even a natural symptom of aging—they’re merely just from exposure to the sun.
People look at my skin and think that because I’m a dermatologist, I’ve had 500 procedures and 500 things put in my face—I don’t. But it’s just that I am obsessed with using the right sunscreen every single day. I’ve never had wrinkles and I’m 56 and it’s because from the time I got interested in dermatology, which was when I was in my teens, I became interested in sunscreen. I was always wearing some form of sunscreen all of those years.

So what do you think are some of the cheapest, most effective sunscreens that you can buy at any drugstore?
One of the really good ones I’ve used is Vanicream. I’m a big fan of zinc-based, physical sunscreens because no matter what your skin type is, you’re not going to get a reaction from them. Let’s say you have rosacea, eczema, sensitive skin; you’re not going to get the reaction that you would from a chemical-based sunscreen.

What’s the difference between a physical and chemical sunscreen?
The ingredients in physical sunscreens physically block your skin from the sun, like a t-shirt. With chemical sunscreens, there’s a chemical reaction that inactivates the sun. I like the physical ones more because they’re broad spectrum, whereas the chemical ones are less. If you’re acne-prone, pick up a non-comedogenic sunscreen, which doesn’t block pores. Neutrogena has a very nice physical one.

So what about you? Do you try to avoid the sun, always sit under an umbrella?
I would be a liar if I told you I was huddled under the sun. I’m very active; my boyfriend has a boat so we’re on the boat all the time and I’m a very active person in the sun. I think that if you tell people to be a recluse and stay away from summer, it would be unrealistic. So the better approach is to take advantage of all the great technology we have; for example, there are hats with SPF 30 in the fabric, I always wear a UV 400-blocking sunblock, and a lipbalm with SPF in it. You must think it takes hours for me to get ready but it really doesn’t; once you get into the habit of it it takes two minutes.

 

What do you think of these tinted, SPF moisturizers that are on the market? I love them. For a lot of people they don’t want to wear makeup in the summer, and that tinted moisturizer gives you the illusion of having color but you don’t, so you have the great look of a glow.

What is the most neglected area for sunscreen?
There’s many. The ears. The nose—even when you apply it, it gets wiped off often. The Achilles tendon, the soles of the feet, the tops of their feet.

Never would have guessed the Achilles tendon. I have noticed the upper chest area is so easily burned.
That’s because there is no fat there; the skin is sitting right on the bone and it’s so thin.

What about moles? Can you easily spot a harmful mole?
Yes. I’ve had so much experience with them and always such an interest in them. I figured out early on as a dermatologist that there aren’t that many ways to save someones life. One is to spot early Lyme disease and the other is to maybe spot an early allergic reaction that could become life-threatening, but the top way is to spot melanoma, since melanoma left untreated can become deadly pretty quickly. It doesn’t take a long time.

Does everyone that comes in get a mole check?
Nearly everyone. I fight with people over getting these mole checks because they just save lives. But believe it or not—Botox saves more lives than anything else, because with Botox, people are here every three or four months, getting checked. 

I was shocked to read in your book that UV rays even penetrate glass.
Oh yeah – when you’re sitting in your car, in the office, even walking around on a cloudy day—that’s when people really get into trouble. And a lot of times when people come here, I can tell whether they are the driver or passenger of their car because one side will have more sun damage than the other.

Really? Just by looking at them?
Same thing with lime juice; I can tell if someone was sitting in the sun drinking or eating something with lots of lime in it—they’ll come in with blistering sun burns just on their hands from squeezing the limes. Same with bergamot, an ingredient sometimes found in perfumes—people will have little dots on their neck and I can tell it’s from spritzing the perfume. I swear, dermatologists are detectives. 

Summer Try-Outs: The Season’s Best Creams, Bronzers, and Sunscreens

Big news in the world of beauty: there is no big news, at least on the anti-aging front. Despite the appearance of progress—due in part to the recent revamps of reality-androids like Heidi Montag—the products themselves haven’t improved considerably. That $300 bottle of youth serum in your medicine cabinet is about as useless as a virgin Bloody Mary if it doesn’t have the sperm-like power to penetrate the epidermis and dive deep into the skin, where collagen and elastin fibers hang out. But while the science hasn’t changed much, we’ve figured out ways to make it more effective.

A derma roller can help. Its up-to-three-inch-long needles puncture skin repeatedly, forging deep paths into the subcutaneous tissue, so that today’s best anti-aging products can work their magic. For those with an aversion to needles, there’s plankton, which is found in fortified creams and serums like those in the Biotherm Skin Vivo Reversive Anti-Aging Care range. The plant source is full of enzymes and does the work that sad, aging DNA has gotten too lazy to accomplish.

It’s important to remember that wrinkles and sunspots are often our own fault. Just because Diane Lane spent all that time cavorting under the Tuscan sun doesn’t mean everyone else should—unless, of course, it’s with the newest protective sunscreens. Estée Lauder’s Bronze Goddess Sunscreen SPF 30 is an indulgent, non-greasy lotion made especially for the face, and it doesn’t smell like Eau de Doctor’s Office. Chantecaille’s Protection Naturelle SPF 46 is an innovative powder sunscreen for those whose skin is already oily enough. Another popular choice among dermatologists and wrinkle fighters is the well-rounded Neutrogena Spectrum+ with Helioplex360 because of its ability to block UVA and UVB rays while also fighting wrinkles with vitamin E.

One of the more blush-inducing trends to emerge this summer is butt care, which has raised its profile with a barrage of advances in the war on cellulite. Biotherm’s Celluli Laser D.Code is sending everyone with hot-pants fever into a tizzy because it activates cellulite-fighting enzymes usually only triggered by exercise.

Another way to avoid yoga classes is to trick the eye with self-tanners. For the Miranda Kerr effect, try Victoria’s Secret’s Beach Sexy Sunkissed Bronze Instant Self Tan Lotion with Tint, which smells incredible and includes a bit of shimmer. St. Tropez offers a new alternative to self-tanner with its Wash Off Instant Glow Mousse. Better yet, apply Illamasqua’s Powdered Metal in Thalia or Youngblood’s Mineral Radiance Moisture Tint in Golden Sun to hide those unsightly imperfections on the thighs and other areas of the body—and to divert attention from dimples in places they should not be.

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Counter Intelligence Tanning the old-fashioned way can be a death sentence. But there are plenty of innovative cosmetics one can use to achieve that sun-kissed shine this summer without wrinkling into a California raisin. Makeup artist Walter Obal sheds light on how to get the glow while avoiding the look of a 75-year-old chain-smoker. —Christopher Campbell

SkincareLancôme’s Flash Bronzer Tinted Anti-Age Self-Tanning Face Lotion creates an even, gradual tan with a healthy glow and also helps to promote beautiful, ageless skin. For a bronzed body, use L’Oréal’s Sublime Bronze ProPerfect Salon Airbrush Self-Tanning Mist. This tan- in-a-can provides an even mist and allows sunbathers to target all those difficult-to-reach spots without having to bare it all in front of a salon worker.” Face “On photo shoots, I oft en opt for Temptu SB Foundation to even out skin tones. It’s a lightweight foundation that allows the skin to radiate from underneath while providing the perfect finish. Lightly powder the whole face with Bare Escentuals’ bareMinerals SPF 25 Mineral Veil for extra ray protection.”

Cheeks “For a pronounced, chiseled effect, add contour underneath the cheekbones and along the temples with Make Up For Ever Mat Bronze. Finish this structured cheek by highlighting the upper cheekbone with Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess Soft Shimmer Bronzer. It can also be used along the collarbone.”

Lips “For a nice burst of color, apply MAC Cosmetics’ Ruby Woo to the lips. Since the overall look for this shoot was a healthy, bronzed glow, I wanted to use a product that would make a statement. That’s why I chose a bright red matte lipstick.”

On Model: Body Suit by American Apparel, Headband by Charlotte Ronson, Shoes by Christian Louboutin. Stylist: Christopher Campbell Makeup: Walter Obal for Temptu Pro Hair: Anthony Nader Manicurist: Dawn Sterling Studio Manager/Digital Tech: Jennifer Thomas Photo Assistant: Aaron Muntz Model: Hartje Andresen @ Trump Model Management Exercise Equipment: Paragon Sports