Dermatologist to the stars/TV personality Dr. Whitney Bowe is a dear friend of mine who happens to also be on the of the most beautiful and smart people I know. She has the looks (the bowe-glow), the charm (no one more charismatic and charming ), and the smarts (she graduated Summa Cum Laude from Yale and then was awarded a full scholarship to study medicine at the University of Pennsylvania where she graduated top of her class). Luckily, I was able to interview her on Summer Skin — this is a must read! Thanks, Whit, I love you!
What new types of products should we try this summer for our most radiant skin?
I was a Judge for both Allure’s Best of Beauty Awards and Family Circle Magazine’s Annual Beauty Awards this year, so I have my pulse on some pretty amazing products! There are definitely a few key products I am loving this summer! The first is called Heliocare. It is an antioxidant rich dietary supplement made from a powerful, natural fern extract which helps protect your skin from the inside out. If you take one Heliocare about thirty minutes before you head outdoors (in addition to your sunscreen—it is a complementary product and not a substitution — no shortcuts!), it actually helps to protect your skin from free radical damage caused by the sun! Free radicals are a major cause of premature aging (translation: wrinkles). Because I am very fact-driven, I need to be impressed with the science before I am impressed with a product. The science here is solid and I love that it is naturally derived! I recently spoke about this product on Good Morning America and my patients have been loving it!
Second, as a dermatologist who loves to look sun kissed and golden, I rock a faux glow in summer! I always end up trying so many products to find just the right one! I have been really impressed with The Organic Pharmacy’s Self Tanner which contains aloe vera and coconut oil to keep my skin hydrated and soothed! My other favorites include St. Tropez tanning mousse for a deep tan (make sure to use the mitt to avoid stained palms), Tan Towels for a light golden shade, and Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer for days when your skin feels super parched and dehydrated.
I have also been using Dermalogica’s Nightly Lip treatment to refresh and hydrate my lips overnight. So many people forget to protect their lips during summer, but our lips can be damaged by UV rays too! So, I use SPF lip protection during the day and my lip treatment at night to keep my lips healthy all summer long!
What is your daily summer skincare regimen?
Summer is my favorite time of year! I completely embrace the slower pace and low key feel of long, easy summer days. I follow a streamlined summer skincare routine that is not fussy, but I find is highly effective!
I am in the pool and at the ocean a lot during the summer, so sun protection is my first and foremost priority. I am a big fan of La Roche Posay’s Anthelios Melt-In Milk SPF 60. I usually start with a coat of that from head to toe. When it comes time to reapply my sunscreen, I have been using the Target brand face stick for my face because it’s so travel friendly, and I have been loving the Coppertone Clearly Sheer Whipped sunscreen for my arms and legs. It’s like applying a pile of whipped cream to my skin- it actually makes the reapplication process fun. I also wear a lot of UPF rash guards and coverups because I don’t need to put sunscreen under my UPF clothing and it makes it that much quicker and easier to get outside and have fun!!
All of this sun, chlorine and salt water does leave my skin very dry, so I have been using products by MetaDerm on my skin and I absolutely love them. MetaDerm is loaded with therapeutic botanicals which are so soothing on sensitive skin and incredibly effective for my patients with eczema or psoriasis. I actually learned about MetaDerm because I have mild psoriasis (thick scaly plaques form on my elbows, especially during times of stress), and I prefer to use natural products whenever possible, but only if they really work. These products have been subjected to rigorous pharma-grade testing and the results are truly remarkable. Once I saw what the Psoriasis Cream did for my elbows, I started using it all over my skin every day during summer because it makes my skin incredibly smooth in preparation for self tanning. Self tanners are made with a molecule called DHA that clings to areas of thick skin, hence the dark, noticeable streaks at the wrists, elbows, knees and ankles – I find that my new routine makes my skin so smooth that my faux tanner applies perfectly! I even use the MetaDerm Baby Eczema Cream on my daughter! Love that it’s so safe and so effective to treat her mild eczema. You can find all these MetaDerm products on Amazon.
You will also find me wearing either a floppy beach hat or a baseball cap when I’m in the sun and ducking into the shade between the hours of noon and two to keep my skin healthy, glowing and sunburn-free!
And, of course, I absolutely baby my face during the dry, hot summer months! To keep my healthy signature #boweglow, I use a very gentle cleanser like Cetaphil to wash my face and follow with an antioxidant rich serum or a topical probiotic serum and a lightweight face cream. I use a bit of a richer night cream to hydrate my skin overnight when my skin cells are doing their heaviest lifting to regenerate!
I know you love DIY skincare recipes! What’s one of your favorites for dry summer skin?
Ever since I was a little girl with fair skin and freckles, my mom kept an aloe plant in our house for our sensitive summer skin. I keep one in my house now and so does my sister! Natural aloe is one of my must haves during summer to treat everything from sunburns to dry summer skin! One of my favorite DIY recipes incorporates aloe and includes cucumber. It’s so quick and easy and very cooling in this summer heat!
Cooling Aloe-Cucumber Face Mask
3 inches of washed cucumber
¼ cup fresh aloe
Combine ingredients in a food processor until smooth
Refrigerate for at least an hour until nice and cool
Apply to clean skin and leave on for 15 minutes
Gently wash off using a cool baby washcloth
Sunscreen question – do you use physical blockers or chemical blockers and why?
So many of my patients ask me about physical blockers and chemical blockers, so I will first explain what the difference is and then explain how I use them!
Physical (or mineral) blockers include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to physically “block” skin from the sun. They tend to work immediately as compared to chemical blockers which must be first absorbed by your skin. Physical blockers screen out a wide range of UVA and UVB radiation and are often preferred by parents who want to use chemical free products for their children or by my patients with extremely sensitive skin, given that very sensitive skin cannot always tolerate chemical sunscreens well.
Chemical blockers, on the other hand, generally contain ingredients like oxybenzone and avobenzone. They protect your skin at a cellular level and must interact with the skin cells in order to be effective. This is why your skin has to first absorb the chemical blocker before it will be effective in protecting your skin against the sun. I have mentioned before that I am very fact-driven. I tend to look at rigorous testing and science very critically in determining which products to use and recommend. In third party testing like Consumer Reports, chemical blockers consistently outperform the physical-onlyblockers.
I tend to use a combination approach for my skin. During the week, I use a chemical plus physical blocker if I am on vacation or going to be exposed to a lot of harsh direct sun. During the weekend, I will opt for a physical-only blocker (a product with zinc oxide +/- titanium dioxide, as zinc is more effective at screening out most of the sun’s rays as compared to titanium dioxide), or on days when I am not going to have quite as much sun exposure, I reach for the physical-only blocker. Many physical-only blockers can be drying, so make sure to moisturize really well on the nights you use those products!
What sunscreen mistakes do most people make?
I see so many sunburns all summer long!! For a dermatologist, this is a form of torture because it is so easily avoided and it is so dangerous for your health! Between 2000 and 2010, squamous cell carcinoma diagnoses increased 263 percent and this is one of the types of skin cancers I’m seeing more and more in my office lately! It’s so important to share this message about how to effectively use sunscreen, so I’m glad you asked!
I find that the most common mistakes most people make are: (1) not applying enough sunscreen, (2) not applying your sunscreen often enough to protect your skin, and (3) only relying on sunscreen!
First, you need a shot glass full of sunscreen to really protect your skin! Most people apply so little sunscreen that it cannot possibly do its job! Always err on the side of over doing it, rather than under applying!
My rule of thumb is to apply your sunscreen every two hours if your skin is dry. If you are going swimming or sweating, you need to reapply more often than that. Make sure you apply at least 15 minutes before you go in the water AND reapply after you come out of the water and towel dry your skin!
Even if you follow every single sunscreen rule, sometimes sunscreen just isn’t enough if you are getting a lot of harsh sun exposure and increased reflection from the water’s surface. I recommend finding a shady retreat during the hours of 12 and 2 and also incorporating UPF clothing and a beach hat into your summer skincare routine!
As I mentioned, I LOVE being at the beach, I love being at the pool, I love being in the sun!! If you look at my social media images, they are pretty much me basking in the sunshine! I never tell my patients to hide inside! That’s not reality! I want to share the message that your skin’s health and sun safety is really very accessible and it’s all about finding a balance in your lifestyle and your self care routine.
What type of sun protection do you use for your daughter?
My daughter is a very fair skinned, blue-eyed redhead, so I take her sun protection very seriously!! Her skin is very prone to burns, so we use lots of different methods of sun protection given that she loves being out in the sun, the pool, the beach! She’s an outdoorsy kiddo just like her momma!
During the week, I use a chemical blocker like Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50 which performed very well under the extensive Consumer Reports testing process. On the weekend, I alternate to a physical blocker like ThinkBaby. I like to alternate between the two different types of sunblock because I want her to be very well protected from sun damage but also I want to limit her chemical exposure. I find a balance.
She always wears a rash guard over her bathing suit and wears an adorable little baseball cap when she isn’t swimming under water or diving in the ocean waves!
What are some of the best foods to eat for healthy, glowing skin?
I actually did a really fun segment for The Rachael Ray Show where we filmed at home videos showing my meals throughout the day and explaining the skin benefits of each meal! This is one of my absolute favorite topics and one which I cover in depth in my first book, The Beauty of Dirty Skin, which is set for publication in April 2018!
Some of my favorite foods for healthy, glowing skin include:
- *Nuts (almonds and walnuts) and seeds: they are loaded with protein, fiber, and omega 3 fatty acids, all of which are amazing for smooth, healthy skin!
- * A bowl of berries: Low in sugar as far as fruits go and packed with antioxidants which protect you skin against free radicals to keep your healthy, youthful glow!
- *Dark chocolate: Believe it or not, dark chocolate – in moderation – is excellent for your skin! You should look for at least 70 percent cacao. Do not opt for milk chocolate or white chocolate if you want to indulge in a skin friendly and delicious treat!
- * Also, I am completely hooked on Kombucha. I can’t stop talking about it and I have tried to get my entire family equally hooked with varying results!! Haha! It has a very distinctive taste, so try it before you invest in a bulk shipment! Kombucha is a drink which is loaded with probiotics or healthy bacteria which has been shown to keep your skin healthy and radiant. I tend toward Kombucha which also includes ginger and turmeric, which are wonderful for digestion and your skin. Artificial sweeteners in diet soda are destructive to the healthy bacteria which live in your gut which in turn leads to inflammation in your skin, so try to limit those whenever possible. I opt for water and my beloved Kombucha!
Thank you so much, Whit. If only we could all have your #boweglow. Thanks for your wisdom, smarts, and advice — we look forward to your next segment with us, soon! To follow Dr. Bowe on instagram, go here. To see her website, go www.drwhitneybowe.com.