Summer means upping your sun-care game, at least if you care about preventing skin cancer and premature aging. No one knows this better than aesthetician and influencer Ian Michael Crumm and New York dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD. For the second year in a row, the pair teamed up to bring SkinWatch2 to life to promote safe sun care and highlight all the things we should have in our sun safety toolkit. Shafer Clinic Fifth Avenue was given a boardwalk-based makeover and flooded with the biggest players and brands in sun care. We caught up with Crumm after the event to hear what he wants people to know about sun care safety this summer and beyond.
Sun care mistakes to avoid
You may think the simple act of applying sunscreen will magically keep your skin safe from the sun, but the fact is there are a few common sun-care mistakes that can put you at risk. Applying sunscreen correctly is a big part of how helpful it will be. “Applying sunscreen unevenly or in insufficient amounts can lead to inadequate protection,” says Crumm, who recommends applying a generous layer of sunscreen. It’s also easy to forget to apply SPF around the eyes. Crumm says it’s important to apply sunscreen around the eyes beneath sunglasses so there’s an extra layer of protection.
Even the best sunscreen will eventually need to be reapplied, which people tend to forget while caught up in summer fun. “Sunscreen loses its effectiveness over time, especially when exposed to sun, water and sweat,” says Crumm. He urges applying every two hours and more frequently if you’re sweating or swimming.
The myth that sunscreen is only necessary during sunny days is all too common. Experts have repeatedly explained that UV damage can be present no matter the weather, which makes daily sunscreen application a must. “Think of sunscreen applications like brushing your teeth. Sit SPF next to your toothbrush so you never forget to apply it in the morning,” says Crumm.
It’s easy to assume that sunscreen is covering all the bases when it comes to sun protection, but that’s not the case. “Relying solely on sunscreen may not provide complete sun protection,” says Crumm. “It’s important to incorporate additional measures like seeking shade, wearing protective clothing with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) and using broad-brimmed hats and sunglasses.”
Even with all these precautions, too much sun can still be risky. “It’s important to remember other ways to be safe from the sun like minimizing time in direct sunlight from peak hours of the day, 10 AM to 2 PM, where the UV index tends to be higher,” says Crumm. “Seek shade whenever possible so your skin doesn’t overheat and burn. Some sun is okay, but too much sun harms skin health and speeds up skin aging.” A wise word from the aesthetician himself: “Anytime you have the urge to lay out and bake in the sun, consider all the treatments needed to reverse that sun damage. The number-one well-aging skin-care product is sunscreen and great sun hygiene habits.
Expert-recommended sun care products
The best sunscreen is one that you’ll actually use, so it’s essential to find one you like. Crumm says IMAGE Skincare PREVENTION+ Clear Solar Gel SPF 30+ is “so easy to use, you’ll always use it.” The weightless formula melts into skin, mimicking the feel of a primer, making it a great foundation for makeup.
Elta MD UV AOX Mist ($45)
When it comes to an all-over head-to-toe sunscreen, we know spray can be a bit easier to apply. Crumm recommends EltaMD UV AOX Mist for easy application as it has a 360-degree air-powered spray applicator. He adds that it’s a great option to bring on the go during outdoor activities because it makes applying and reapplying to hard-to-reach places “manageable and quick for anyone busy enjoying the outdoor sunshine.”
UPF clothing is an underutilized tool in the sun-safety toolkit. “UPF is to fabric as SPF is to skin care. It’s the rating system used to determine how protective a piece of fabric is against filtering UV,” explains Crumm. At SkinWatch2, the staff was outfitted in custom UPF shirts from Crumm’s collaboration with Welles. “The Ian Michael Crumm x Welles SolBase UPF 50+ Baselayer is the ultimate blend of style, sustainability, and sun safety,” says Crumm. “Pair UPF shirts with sunscreen for the ultimate sun-safe lifestyle.”
Theraderm Cool Skin ($23)
Even experts understand that “it happens…sometimes a section of skin is missed, and a sunburn happens,” says Crumm. Having a calming skin spray on hand can help relieve discomfort. Crumm says, “Theraderm Cool Skin relieves pain and blistering associated with burns, sunburn and wasp stings. It’s shown to relieve pain, redness, swelling and heat associated with burns.”