Your Top Questions About Sunscreen: Ask The Dermatologist
For the first time, your questions about how to care for the skin on your face and scalp, especially in regard to sunscreen, are answered by our contributing dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, FAAD.
Q: I’m in my mid-forties and have had alopecia universalis since childhood. This summer for the first time, I spent considerable time outdoors without a wig or head covering. What’s your advice about caring for the health and appearance of my skin?
Dr. Zeichner: If you are out for the first time, you need to be especially careful and use sunscreen of at least SPF30. And remember to reapply every 2 hours.
Q: I look two-toned because my face is always more tanned than my head. Is there a daily regimen that will help my scalp more closely match the color of my face or vice versa? Is it as simple as keeping sun block on my face year-round?
Dr. Zeichner: Certainly applying sunscreen on your face year-round can help prevent it from tanning, but inevitably your face will get darker than your scalp if your head is covered and physically blocked from the sun year-round. Since the skin on your scalp is no different than skin in other places, I recommend you use a self-tanning cream to help match the light skin on your scalp to the rest of your face.
Q: What’s your advice about the new SPF labeling? Should I use a different number SPF for my face versus my scalp to even out my skin tone?
Dr. Zeichner: There is no need to use different SPFs. I recommend using the same SPF level for the face and the scalp, especially if the scalp is exposed to the sun. Keep in mind that SPF 30 and higher is the current recommendation from the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Joshua Zeichner, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist and Assistant Professor at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. As the Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in the Dermatology Department, Dr. Zeichner is actively involved in clinical trials for skin conditions including acne, psoriasis and eczema/atopic dermatitis. He has broad interests in both medical and cosmetic dermatology. He is also is a specialist in improving the appearance of aging skin.