Dr. Muneeb Shah, better known as @dermdoctor, has become TikTok’s eminent dermatologist. While he’s based in North Carolina, where he is a partner at Fora Dermatology, anyone, anywhere can learn a bit of skin care knowledge from his social media. His skin care recommendations, trend explainers and reaction videos to pimple popping and skin anomalies have earned him 18 million followers.
“I try to take a very like practical approach to skin care — like what is happening, and why would you want to change it?” Shah shares. Along with giving advice on common concerns like acne, hyperpigmentation and dryness, the dermatologist focuses on accessible products that you can likely grab on your next trip to the drugstore.
As he’s an authority on all things skin care, we asked the DermDoctor to share some summer skin do’s and don’ts, along with his favorite products for the season.
DermDoctor’s summer skin care do’s and don’ts
Although sun protection is necessary year-round, Shah says that it’s even more important in the summer since there’s an increase in sun exposure. That means you’ll want to look for a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and reapply it as necessary — typically, every two hours if you’re in the sun. To build the habit, Shah recommends pairing it with behaviors that you’re already doing.
“When I first try to get people to wear sunscreen, I try to get them to pair it with brushing their teeth,” Shah says. “And then if you’re out in the sun, I tell them to reapply with lunch.”
“For summer, one of the main changes is that humidity goes up,” Shah notes. In this environment, the dermatologist recommends “switching your heavier, cream-based moisturizers to more lightweight moisturizers.” Look for hyaluronic acid-based moisturizers or gel moisturizers, options that Shah says are “lighter weight [and] sit on your skin in a humid environment.”
Because of the increased sun exposure, Shah says to “potentially eliminate or just decrease your use of exfoliating acids during [summer].” According to the derm, alpha hydroxy acids — such as lactic acid and glycolic acid — increase your risk of sunburns. If you want to have the brightening and smoothing benefits of those ingredients, Shah recommends cutting back to just once a week.
Shah prefers Neutrogena’s Gel-Cream formula to the Water Gel because it is fragrance-free. The lightweight, oil-free moisturizer is a great summer skin care swap.
Shah also loves this hyaluronic acid moisturizing gel from Olay, which features niacinamide for oil control and peptides to support the skin barrier.
A peptide-packed moisturizer that Shah also says has a gel-like consistency, Drunk Elephant’s Protini Polypeptide Cream is a year-round favorite.
According to Shah, “Hyaluronic acid can actually dry out the skin when it’s not very humid outside. You sort of lose that moisture to the environment. So hyaluronic acid is best to use in times of the year where it’s a little bit more humid.” He recommends this serum that uses multi-molecular weight hyaluronic acid. “It gives that dewy, hydrated plump look,” he says.
“If anyone’s ever had a problem with hyaluronic acid and they didn’t like it because they said it irritated this skin, this one will not irritate,” Shah says. “It’s pure, high molecular weight hyaluronic acid [with] a super-elegant formula and super-simple ingredients.”
EltaMD remains a dermatologist favorite for sunscreen. Shah likes this tinted option that he says is “awesome, blends really well and is pure mineral.”
Shah also loves this sunscreen for the face and body. Its fast-absorbing formula will help you avoid any sticky or greasy feeling, so it’s ideal for hot, humid days.
A favorite of Shah’s for its blendability, the Isdin Eryfotona Actinica SPF 50 disappears against all skin tones. It also features DNA Repairsomes, which Shah says “are awesome for even repairing damage that’s already happened to your skin.”
For an affordable option, Shah recommends this drugstore sunscreen that’s especially great for dark skin tones. It uses chemical UV filters — Shah says he doesn’t have a preference between chemical and physical sunscreens, and people should ultimately just find a formula that they love and will use daily.
If you do get a sunburn, Shah says to keep your post-sun skin care super simple. In the first two hours after, use a cold compress to cool the skin and ease the burning, then “after 24 hours you can start using plain Vaseline,” Shah advises. “That’s going to help the skin repair itself and let the skin heal because there’s not much you can do once the damage has already started. Once you have a sunburn, it’s almost like a car crash, like the impact has already happened.”