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How Does Sunscreen Work and How Often to Reapply It?


Scientific studies have proven again and again that sun exposure causes wrinkles and age spots. We know the sun’s harmful and that protection is key to keeping skin looking youthful. Which is why it is essential to educate teens on the importance of protection. For the most part, parents and other responsible adults need to take care of their children’s sunscreen routine. But teenage skin is new, fragile and just as important to protect. But now that they’re old enough to take responsibility into their own hands, it is up to you to educate them on the necessities of good sun protection. Going on beach trips with friends and hanging by the pool gives them ample opportunity to burn and damage their young skin, which will only lead to future damaging consequences that you may already be seeing on your skin.

Show them graphic photos of skin cancers, scars, and photos of sun spots, wrinkles and droopy faces. But, what may really motivate them to heed warning is understanding the information about future wrinkles, skin thinning, melasma, and freckles.

To remove the last vestiges of doubt, tell teens to look at the skin of the adults in their lives. Tell them to compare the outer surfaces of an adult’s arm to the under-surface for the proof – seeing freckles and crepe-like skin with wrinkles on the outer surface and baby smooth perfect skin on the under-surface usually does it! Which would they prefer on their faces, necks, and chests in 10 or 20 years? Remind them that when they are 30 years old they will still care about how they look. It’s a satisfying moment to see their  clear understanding dawn across their faces.

Describe to them how important sunscreen is as an integral part of their daily skin care routine. So, talk about wrinkles next time you broach the sun protection subject with teens. Show them your arms or the sides of your neck and tell them they could avoid this damage if they practice safer sunscreen practices. That’s where the wear and tear of sun exposure really shows. It’s preventable and they are young enough to avoid it with daily use of a good broad spectrum sunscreen. Yes it’s even better to get them to also adopt good sun practices, such as wearing a broad brimmed hat, wearing sun-protective clothing, and staying in the shade. If they’re spending the summer in the sun as a lifeguard, it is especially necessary to use ample and more extreme protection measures such as frequent reapplication, but otherwise I’m at least thrilled with daily use of a good sunscreen on all of their exposed skin.

About author - Dr. Cameron Rokhsar

Dr. Cameron Rokhsar

Dr. Cameron Rokhsar, MD, FAAD, FAACS, is the founder and medical director of the New York Cosmetic, Skin, & Laser Surgery Center. Dr. Rokhsar is a graduate of Harvard College and NYU School of Medicine. Dr. Rokhsar is double board certified in dermatology and micrographic dermatologic surgery, being one of the few select dermatologists in the country who is also fellowship trained in laser surgery. A researcher and innovator, Dr. Rokhsar is the creator of the non-surgical nose job and has been instrumental in the research and development of laser systems such as the Fraxel, CO2, Mirady, Vbeam, Themitight, and Ulthera devices. An Associate Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC, Dr. Rokhsar actively teaches the cosmetic dermatology clinic to the resident at Mount Sinai. An expert injector of fillers, and a trainer for many companies, patients fly in from around the world to see Dr. Rokhsar in his Garden City and Manhattan offices in New York.

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