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Going into the Summer season there is so much to be excited about – longer days, BBQ’s, Sun, Sand and beach, but it’s also a time where we need to put skin protection on the top of our list. We sat down with Dr. G to understand what being “Sun Safe” really means and also learn about some post-sun skin tips from the king of reversing sun damage.

photo via @graymalin

What are your sun protection recommendations for someone dealing with rosacea?

“The sun is arguably the most common trigger for Rosacea. Rosacea suffers need to be particularly sun smart and practice what I like to call ‘Smart Sun Safety’ or SSS. SSS consists of the use of a physical sunscreen, containing Titanium or Zinc oxide, protective clothing (which includes a hat and sunglasses) and not being exposed to the sun during high-risk hours of the day. When choosing and SPF avoid ingredients such as phalates, sulfates, artificial fragrances, preservatives and mineral oil. A physical sunscreen is always better in my opinion than a chemical one. Chemical sunscreens, due to the nature of having to be absorbed into the skin, can interact and cause irritation, rashes or clogged pores. Dry mists or sprays may be more beneficial for Rosacea suffers as there is no rubbing of skin needed thus possibly aggravating skin and causing more redness and irritation. Post ‘sun care’ is very important for Rosacea suffers also. Look for calming ingredients such as green tea, red tea or chamomile, which target redness, inflammation and irritation while delivering a cooling sensation.”

Sun protection before make-up is one thing, but is it necessary to reapply SPF during the day?

“Reapplying sunscreen throughout the day is crucial to proper sun protection. When in direct sun (at the beach, pool or on a boat), sunscreen should be reapplied every 30-45 minutes. Sunscreen should always be reapplied after swimming even if you have on waterproof sunscreen. A physical sunscreen is always better than a chemical one. Chemical sunscreens, due to the nature of having to be absorbed into the skin, can interact and cause irritation rashes or clogged pores. Another downside to a chemical sunscreen is that the sun has to actually touch and reach the skin, whereas a physical sunscreen is blocking the UV rays from ever touching the skin.”

And if so, what are your recommendations for reapplying sun protection after make-up?

“A dry mist or spray will allow over and after makeup coverage without messing up makeup and adding bacteria from the fingers to the skin.”

Are there any products outside of an SPF that we should be using to prevent against harmful UVA/UVB rays? 

“The use of potent anti-oxidants have been proven to fight against free-radical damage (from UVA/UVB rays and environmental stressors) that break down skin cells and cause premature aging. Using a potent-packed anti-oxidant rich daily serum is equally as important as SPF to ensure that you are protecting the skin on multiple levels.”

What are three routine related things people should do/no do before visiting a clinic for a treatment – specifically to reverse sun damage (pigmentation/dehydration)? And why? (ie: are there ingredients they should avoid, medications, drinking water etc.)

Do not exfoliate, use peels or Retinoid type products the night before or morning of the facial, especially if you tend to be sensitive. A reputable spa will usually request paperwork be filled out listing any medications being taken or applied topically. The aesthetician should ask you if you’re taking medications or using Retin-A or retinoid products. Since Retinoids are aggressive they do not mix well with ingredients like Glycolic and Vitamin C to name a few. Some skin types can handle it but most will be irritated, so why take the chance.

Why is exfoliation important for maintaining healthy, youthful skin?

Exfoliation is extremely important. The removal of dead skin cells will make skin look younger, tighter and absorb treatment products better.”

What does ‘un-exfoliated’ skin look like?

“I always use the example of an unpeeled onion. Before an onion is peeled or skin is exfoliated it appears dry, crackly, dull and lackluster. Un-exfoliated skin can look rough, uneven and have dark spots, as there is a build up of dead skin cells, dirt and bacteria.”

What are some mistakes people make when it comes to exfoliating?

“Over exfoliation is a common mistake people tend to make. Over exfoliation can occur from overuse (too many days in a row), too harsh of an acid for specific skin types (sensitive skin does better with Lactic acid as opposed to Glycolic), scrubbing too hard, or mixing too many exfoliation ingredients at once (don’t scrub and peel together). Over exfoliation can also happen if skin is already dry, sunburned, wind burned or during seasonal changes.”

What are your top recommendations for exfoliating at home?  

Exfoliate skin two to three times a week, unless you suffer from rosacea or eczema. Depending on the season and climate, exfoliation can be increased or decreased. Both physical and chemical exfoliation is recommended but never on the same day. Rosacea and Eczema suffers should use chemical exfoliators and gentle gel based cleansers.”

What is the best way to treat a sun burn? 

“While skin is still damp, use a gentle moisturizing lotion (but not petroleum or oil-based ointments, which may trap the heat and make the burn worse). Repeat to keep burned or peeling skin moist over the next few days. The use of an anti-inflammatory serum is also recommended – look for ingredients like aloe vera, red/green/black tea and Vitamin E as it helps to soothe aggravated skin and reduce redness.”

What is one surprising complexion cures you’ve learned on the job?

“I’ve been in practice for over 40 years and one cure I always recommend and go back to is a cold compress. Cold compresses relieve issues related to sunburn, bug bites, redness, itchiness, inflammation and can be made anywhere. Sometimes simple and natural is the best.”

Find out more about the Goldfaden MD collection

Our skin cells contain melanocyte cells, a cell that produces melanin, a chemical that gives skin its color. Too much melanin leads to hyper pigmented skin – including freckles, darkening of the skin in patches, and age spots. Hyper pigmentation can occur from over sun exposure, trauma to the skin (i.e. laser treatments, peels, etc.) or as a side effect of certain drugs. While hyperpigmentation is not a serious medical condition, it is one of the most common skin conditions and arguably the most difficult to treat and correct.

Picture via Total Beauty

We enlisted the expertise of Dr. Goldfaden to help us understand how hyper pigmentation occurs, what we can do to prevent it and the best and most effective treatments, both in-office and at-home.

Q: What exactly is hyper pigmentation? “Hyperpigmentation is defined as any spot on your skin that’s dark enough to effectively stand out against the surrounding area. This phenomenon is usually the result of your skin’s efforts to protect itself from the harmful effects of ultraviolet light. It occurs when overexposure to sunlight causes the melanocytes in the deeper layers of your skin to produce cells that contain a skin-darkening pigment called melanin. These specialized cells known as melanosomes are picked up by your keratinocytes that are constantly migrating upwards toward your skin surface.” Dr. Gary Goldfaden MD

Q: What are the different types of hyperpigmentation one can develop? “Age spots or sun spots (sun damage), melasma, scarring, post-inflammatory hyper pigmentation.” Dr. Gary Goldfaden MD

Q: What is post-inflammatory hyper pigmentation? “Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is usually temporary and can be caused by inflammatory acne, a severe burn or injury to the skin. While anyone can suffer from this, it is more common in dark skin types.” Dr. Gary Goldfaden MD

Q: What is the difference between acne scars and hyperpigmentation? “This can be very difficult to differentiate. Acne scars can appear dark and be Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, which should go away (as it is temporary). However, if exposed to the sun then this may become long-term hyperpigmentation. General rule of thumb, if the acne mark or lesion is still visible after 6-12 months then it is considered a scar.” Dr. Gary Goldfaden MD

Q: What is the difference between hyperpigmentation, sun spots and freckles? “All fall under the umbrella of Hyperpigmentation. Sun exposure has a lot to do with the darkness and severity. If you have freckles and have sun exposure the melanin will be activated and the freckle will be darker.” Dr. Gary Goldfaden MD

Q: What causes hyper pigmentation? “Hyperpigmentation occurs when overexposure to sunlight causes the melanocytes in the deeper layers of your skin to produce cells that contain a skin-darkening pigment called melanin. These specialized cells known as melanosomes are picked up by your keratinocytes that are constantly migrating upwards toward your skin surface and cause the dark spots/areas. Hormones, birth control pills can also cause this and sunlight can increase the severity.” Dr. Gary Goldfaden MD

Q: Is anyone more prone to hyperpigmentation, such as different races or skin tones? “Darker skin types are more prone. All skin generally has the same amount of melanosomes , the difference in lighter skin and darker skin is the size. Darker skin has larger melanosomes(what contains/distributes the melanin) hence more susceptible to hyperpigmentation.” Dr. Gary Goldfaden MD

Q: Is it preventable? If so, how? “Wearing an SPF at all times when exposed to the sun. Exfoliation can help the appearance as it removes dead, dry, dark skin cells fort he surface of the skin. Using proper actives to protect against sun damage and treat sun damage and dark spots. In office micro-dermabrasion treatments and laser treatments.” Dr. Gary Goldfaden MD

Q: Can it ever be reversed completely? “Yes, but it is very difficult and takes a lot of diligence. Even laser treatments are not 100% successful and the dark spot can come back.” Dr. Gary Goldfaden MD

Q: What’s the best way to treat any existing spots? “SPF at all times, sun protective gear (hat, glasses, clothing), Exfoliation, and an active treatment serum.” Dr. Gary Goldfaden MD

Q: What are the best in-office treatments one can receive? “Fraxel laser and Clear and Brilliant are two of the popular and introductory laser treatments that work to combat uneven skin tone, including discoloration. Micro-Dermabrasion is also very popular choice. In office chemical peels can be very effective as well. Glycolic and lactic acid peels are recommended for at-home maintenance usage.” Dr. Gary Goldfaden MD

Q: What are 3 ingredients people with hyperpigmentation should look for in daily skincare products? “Vitamin C, GlycolicAcid/Lactic, Alpha Arbutin, and Kojic Acid.” Dr. Gary Goldfaden MD