BY DR. MICHELLE COPELAND
When Dr. Copeland takes a break from her busy practice in Manhattan to spend long summer weekends in the Hamptons (so jealous!) where she gardens, bikes, and enjoy the outdoors – she makes sure sunblock comes first. We grabbed a few minutes with the sun care goddess to talk about a responsible skincare regimen for the summer months.
Rue La La: We’re losing our minds with label reading. Can you break it down?
Dr. Copeland: Find a sunblock that protects against UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays break down collagen and elastin fibers supporting skin. If you don’t want wrinkles, you need to guard against UVA light.
Rue La La: What’s the difference between sunscreen and sunblock?
Dr. Copeland: Sunblocks are physical barriers – they sit on top of skin and reflect the rays off of it. Sunscreens are chemical UVA shields. They sink into tissue and when light hits them, they create a reaction that neutralizes the radiation.
Rue La La: We confess: We know SPF is critical, but we’re not sure what it is.
Dr. Copeland: SPF measures a product’s ability to block UVB (burning) rays and how long a person can stay in the sun without burning. An SPF of 30 means thirty times longer than if you went out with nothing on. Say you have very pale skin. You may last only a minute or two before turning pink, so an SPF 30 would give you 30 minutes before you need to reapply.
Rue La La: What about women of color – less to worry about?
Dr. Copeland: No! Even highly pigmented skin can be damaged by UV light. A woman with a deeper complexion can end up with pigment variation, usually mottled, from sun exposure. It doesn’t matter what your skin tone is, if you don’t want the effects of aging, you need to guard yourself from UVA light. And, skin cancer should be the concern of every man, woman, and child on the planet.
Rue La La: Is it true you can skip moisturizer in the summer?
Dr. Copeland: During the summer, the glands produce more oil, so you may want to switch to a product that is not as moisturizing for your face. Your hands and legs, however, don’t contain oil-producing glands, so be sure to moisturize those areas, which can become dry and flaky regardless of the season.
Rue La La: Confession Number Two: We like a little color. Is spray tanning really a safe option?
Dr. Copeland: While I understand the desire for color, misting a large quantity of dye can’t be good. We don’t know the long-term effects of inhaling those tiny particles, which were not formulated to be taken internally. I advise my patients that the only safe way to “tan” is to use a bronzer. To get the best results, exfoliate your skin well prior to applying.
Rue La La: Give us your top five summer essentials.
Dr. Copeland: Cool drinks (hydration is essential for skin). A wide-brimmed hat. Sunblock (I prefer blocks to screen versions because their zinc and titanium mineral base induces less chafing than chemical formulas). Sunglasses. Sunless bronzer – if you must have that summer glow.