Dermatologist shares free summer skin care tips

“All skin types are prone to develop skin cancer,” Dr. Melanie Kingsley said.

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — If your weekend plans take you outside, one dermatologist is reminding you to pack the sunscreen.

“No matter what skin type you are, very light skin to very dark skin, you still need sun protection,” said Dr. Melanie Kingsley, director of cosmetic dermatology and laser surgery at MK Dermatology in Noblesville. “All skin types are prone to develop skin cancer.”

That’s why Kingsley recommends all Hoosiers reach for a sunblock with SPF 30 or higher.

“SPF 30 is 97% coverage in blocking those UV rays,” Kingsley said, “whereas if you go down to SPF 15, it’s only blocking about 93% of the rays.”

Additionally, Kingsley recommends checking the active ingredients in your sunscreen before applying.

Zinc and titanium, for example, are considered physical blockers.

“I love those because they just reflect the UV rays off the skin and prevent it from being absorbed,” Kingsley said.

When it comes to applying sunscreen, Kingsley said there are few often-forgotten areas.

For example, hands receive daily exposure to the sun, even during routine activities like driving.

“You don’t think about it until it’s in your mind and you feel those sun rays on your hands,” Kingsley said. “Keep a little bottle of sunscreen in your car, so when you are stopped safely, you can rub a little on if you forget.”

Kingsley said sensitive areas, like ears and eyelids, also need SPF.

“Eyelids are a very sensitive part of our skin, very thin, so they can burn a little more easily, too. Definitely reapply,” Kingsley said.

SPF in lip balms can also help prevent sunburn, according to Kingsley.

“Having a ChapStick or balm with an SPF in it is very important when you’re out in the sun,” Kingsley said.

In addition to sensitive areas, Kingsley suggests wearing a daily facial sunscreen. Makeup and moisturizers with SPF can also do the trick.

A common myth about summer skin care is that a “base tan” is a safe way to prepare skin for the summer sun.

“A base tan does give you a little melanin to reduce the risk of burning a little, but it won’t remove any of the damage the UV rays are causing,” Kingsley said. “It is still not safe to prepare your skin to go out and get more sun.”

According to Kingsley, getting a “base tan” in a tanning bed is even worse.

“Those have increased the risk of melanoma and skin cancer significantly over the years,” Kingsley said. “Tanning beds are not good for your skin.”

In fact, Kingsley said skin darkens as it tries to protect itself from further UV damage.

“It leads to skin cancer. It leads to wrinkles. It leads to brown spots,” Kingsley said. “You need to listen to your skin and try not to burn because that’s the worst damage you can give to your skin.”

Instead, Kingsley suggests Hoosiers enjoy time in the sun and its benefits, safely, by wearing sunblock and reapplying every two hours.

That’s because even water-resistant sunscreens wash off with water and sweat overtime.

If you plan on being in the water, Kingsley suggests considering a sun shirt.

“You can just throw that on and know that you’re safely protecting your skin,” Kingsley said. “It blocks the sun and the UV rays, so it actually keeps you cooler.”

Overall, Kingsley said these tips and tricks are even more important for children.

“The first 20 years are crucial to prevent sunburns and sun damage because that leads to a lot of the skin cancers later in life,” Kingsley said.