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Surviving the Summer Sun

Hello Friends!

We are halfway through July and if you live in the South, you have been baking in the summer heat for about a month now. With the hottest days on record across the globe, we thought it would be a great time to check in with our dear friend Dr. Katharine Saussy and get some tips on how to survive the summer sun. 

Here's a little background on our favorite Dermatologist: 

Dr. Katharine Saussy | Surviving the Summer Sun

Dr. Katharine Saussy is a board-certified dermatologist born and bred in New Orleans. For undergrad, she attended Tulane University with a degree in Sociology, fascinated in learning about human society and human behaviors with a special interest in gender & sexuality. For medical school, she attended LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans. She completed her residency at Tulane Dermatology, serving as Chief Resident her last year. She has a passion for sun safety and skincare. During her last year, she created School Sun Safe which is a sun education lecture she volunteers giving in the community to any school, group, business or organization interested. She serves as the Auction Co-Chair to the American Cancer Society's event, Shuck Cancer. She and her husband Jed live in New Orleans and have two English Cream Golden Retrievers, Habibi and Tabouli. 


1. What is your personal summer skincare routine? How does it differ from winter for you?

The basics of my skincare routine overall stay the same regardless of season. Depending on where you live or where you are traveling, the weather might require thinner or thicker types of products. The non-negotiables, in my opinion, consist of a cleanser, sunscreen and topical retinoid (not to be used during pregnancy). From there, I tailor to the needs of the skin. In the morning, I use a gentle cleanser, eye cream, vitamin C and tinted sunscreen. I do not leave my bathroom in the morning without sunscreen. In the evening, I use a gentle cleanser, eye cream, topical retinoid and moisturizer. I am a big fan of tinted sunscreens. Tinted sunscreens contain iron oxide which provides additional protection against UVA radiation as well as protection against Visible Light. Visible Light has been shown to worsen hyperpigmentation, melasma and erythema (redness). My rule of thumb is to save on cleansers & moisturizers, so you can spend on vitamin c's, topical retinoids and eye creams.

Product Recommendations: 

Go-To Daily Sunscreens: 

2. What sun protection products are you taking with you on your beach vacations right now?

Like you can imagine as a dermatologist, I don't go to the beach without numerous sun protective items. One of the most common questions I get from patients is "what is the best sunscreen?" or "what is your favorite sunscreen?". Hard to answer because I like so many. The "best" sunscreen for someone is truly the one they like and will use consistently. On a beach vacation, it is imperative that you are selecting an SPF of 30 or above, broad-spectrum and water-resistant. Don't forget your lips! In addition, I bring UV400 protective sunglasses, a wide-brim UPF50+ hat, a UPF50 swimsuit, and a UPF50+ shawl.


3. What do you recommend your clients use on their children for sun protection? 

There is this misconception going around social media that "chemical/organic" ingredients are "bad/unsafe" and there just aren't any well-designed human studies that support this. So again, the "best" sunscreen is one that will work for your child. Sunscreens are recommended for 6 months of age and older. If your child has atopic dermatitis (eczema) or more sensitive skin, I recommend a mineral only sunscreen that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide which are less irritating and better tolerated. For younger than 6 months, it is important to use sun protective items and keep them in the shade. 

Sunscreen list for babies/kids/sensitive skin:

4. Are there any after-sun products that you love? 

After spending time in the sun, drink plenty of water, take a cool shower, and moisturize the skin. Hydration is key. 

5. If you do get sunburned, what do you recommend?

If sunburned, you can apply an aloe vera based product. Hydrating from the inside and outside is important after a sunburn. It's also important to reflect on why you got sunburned. Did you forget to reapply every 2 hours and after swimming/sweating? Did you select the necessary sunscreen? Often people get sunburned but don't evaluate how it happened in order to help prevent it in the future. 

6. Are there any skincare products that you should not use if you are going to be in the sun? (i.e. retinoids, etc)

There are oral and topical products that make you more sun sensitive, prone to burning, or can have a potential chemical reaction with sun exposure. Topical retinoids and other exfoliating products increase cell turnover and help shed dead skin which leaves new and more sensitive skin. But that doesn't mean you can't go in the sun. You just need to be really diligent about your sunscreen and sun protective items & behaviors. Topical products that can make you more sun sensitive include things like retinoids, AHAs/BHAs (glycolic acid, salicylic acid) and hydroquinone. If using products that can make you more sun sensitive, it is important to wear sunscreen on a daily basis (which you should be doing already), using wide-brim hats and seeking shade when possible. 


Follow Dr. Saussy on Instagram (@drsaussy) for more information regarding all things dermatology!


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