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Protect Your Skin: Learn Not to Burn

Let’s face it, you’re not getting any younger. One of the simplest ways to keep that skin looking young and supple is to wear sunscreen every single day. It’s only one extra skincare step to take, but one that will really make an impact! To celebrate Skin Cancer Awareness Month, Hotpots asked local experts “burning” questions on sun protection. Our experts include: Dimitri Bakoulis, Chief Operating Officer of Genesis Health Institute; Claudia Bravo, Medical Esthetician of 4Ever Young; Dr. Cherise M. Levi, Board-Certified Dermatologist at Ayana Dermatology; and Nicole Silverstein Astaphan, Office Manager for Silk Laser + Aesthetics Centre. 

Where does one start when looking for sun protection?

Dimitri Bakoulis: A broad spectrum Zinc Oxide sunblock with an SPF of 30 or greater for Florida summer sun. Also avoiding direct sun exposure during peak times (10 a.m. through 2 p.m.).

Claudia Bravo: When looking for the appropriate sunscreen, one must take into consideration skin type, condition and lifestyle.

Dr. Cherise M. Levi: The minimum basic criteria that should always be met when purchasing a sunscreen product are that it has an SPF of 30 or higher and says Broad Spectrum on the label.

Nicole Silverstein Astaphan: We ask our patients about their activities and hobbies. We determine which sunscreens fit their lifestyle. We only sell medical grade sunscreens that work in conjunction with the aesthetics treatments we provide.

Do you recommend Mineral or Chemical sunscreen?

Dimitri Bakoulis:  Zinc Oxide.

Claudia Bravo: I always recommend the use of a physical block (mineral). Physical blocks are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These ingredients deflect the sun’s rays, vs chemical sunscreens that absorb the sun’s rays and may cause irritation. Amongst chemical ingredients are avobenzone, aminobenzoic acid and cinnamates.

Dr. Cherise M. Levi:  Both. For patients with sensitive skin, a history of skin cancer, lupus, melasma or pigmentation concerns, I always recommend a mineral sunscreen to ensure maximal coverage.

Nicole Silverstein Astaphan: Certain chemicals in sunscreens have been found to cause damage to ocean reefs. We carry both chemical and physical (mineral) sunscreens from EltaMD.

Do you recommend wearing sunscreen every single day or just when you will be on the beach or by a pool/outside activities?

Dimitri Bakoulis: In South Florida every single day. Currently, many moisturizers contain an SPF.

Claudia Bravo: Sunscreen should be used daily. Living in South Florida, we are exposed to sunlight all the time, even when we may not be aware. For example driving or walking from the car to the grocery store etc. By week’s end this cumulative sun exposure becomes more than 2 hours — at least. Enough time for long term damage.

Dr. Cherise M. Levi: Sunscreen should absolutely be worn every day.  I encourage my patients to incorporate it as part of their morning routine: cleanse the skin, apply any treatment products or serums, then put on your daily sunscreen as the last layer.  If you prefer to wear makeup as the last layer, I recommend trying a tinted sunscreen, which has the benefit of both an SPF as well as a light foundation for even coverage.

Nicole Silverstein Astaphan: We recommend wearing daily sunscreen. We recommend using specific sunscreens depending on your activity (e.g. water-resistant, tinted, or for acne prone skin).

How often should you reapply sunscreen?

Dimitri Bakoulis: At least twice a day during regular activities. If actively sweating more often.

Claudia Bravo: Although there are some waterproof sunscreens, I recommend re-applying every 2 hrs after swimming or perspiring.

Dr. Cherise M. Levi:  Every 2 hours or after swimming, exercising or any other activity where the skin gets wet.

Nicole Silverstein Astaphan: We recommend patients follow the recommendations on the sunscreen. It is especially important to reapply after going in the water or sweating.

Is there a level you recommend? (ex. SPF 30 or 50)

Dimitri Bakoulis: Anywhere between 30 and 50 is fine.

Claudia Bravo: The SPF (Sun Protector Factor) recommended 30-50 depends on the intensity of solar energy, not the amount of time of sun exposure. 30 is good for everyday, however a higher SPF is required between the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when the solar energy is the strongest.

Dr. Cherise M. Levi: SPF 30 is the absolute minimum. I recommend this for daily use, especially when most of the day is spent working indoors.  For any extended time spent outdoors (besides walking to and from the car), I recommend an SPF 50 or 50+.

Nicole Silverstein Astaphan: We prefer patients using a broad spectrum SPF 40 or higher.

What if you still want to be a little tan?

Dimitri Bakoulis: This all depends on your skin tone. Not all individuals get tan, some get red or burn which is to be avoided. If you want to get some color, use a sunscreen with bronzer and avoid peak hours (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) and don’t expose for more than 20 minutes.

Claudia Bravo: You can still get a tan with sunscreen by prolonged exposure and it will help prevent  burning.

Dr. Cherise M. Levi: Use a self-tanner!

Nicole Silverstein Astaphan: I’d tell them it’s like browning a chicken in the oven just a little bit. A daily amount of 15 to 20 minutes is a healthy amount of sun exposure.

How damaging to your skin is the sun– what harm can it do?

Dimitri Bakoulis: Besides increasing your chances for skin cancer, the skin loses elasticity and collagen producing properties which are the key factors in keeping your skin youthful.

Claudia Bravo: Sunlight is essential for good health. Unprotected exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can contribute to skin cancer and premature aging (wrinkles, brown spots, crinkled looking skin).

Dr. Cherise M. Levi: Excessive sun exposure is the best way to expedite aging of your face and body.  Ultraviolet radiation from the sun causes not only cellular DNA damage and skin cancer, but also hyperpigmentation, brown sun spots, and early wrinkling due to progressive breakdown and loss of collagen in the deep layers of skin.

Nicole Silverstein Astaphan: Extremely damaging. The sun can cause squamous cell cancer, carcinoma, and Melanoma. It can also cause a variety of skin chronic conditions. Sun damage can cause increased laxity, wrinkling, and various complexion issues.

How intense do people have to be about their sun protection — do you recommend also wearing clothes with SPF if you are out in the sun for a while, sunhats? Umbrellas?

Dimitri Bakoulis: All of those are easy and convenient ways to prevent skin sun damage.

Claudia Bravo: It is very important to be aware of sun protection, I recommend the use of hats and clothing with SPF for extra  protection, specially for people with fair skin or are outdoors/water often.

Dr. Cherise M. Levi: Yes to all of the above.  The more aggressive you are with sun protection, the less UV damage you will be susceptible to, leading to a lower risk for skin cancer.  Any time someone is at the beach or poolside, for example, I recommend sitting only under an umbrella, wearing a hat the entire time while outdoors and swimming, and reapplying sunscreen as often as necessary.  I also recommend clothing and swim shirts which have a UPF indication (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) which is essentially SPF for clothing and fabrics. This is especially important to keep in mind while boating, as UV radiation reflects off of the water, so the damage comes from both above and below.

Nicole Silverstein Astaphan: My wife and I personally wear a sun hat and SPF long sleeve shirts when outside for extended periods of time.

Any surprising facts that we should know about?

Dimitri Bakoulis: As we age, sun damage to the skin is more significant and increases the risk of skin cancer. The skin also loses the ability to repair itself as we age.

Claudia Bravo: Facts: Sunscreen should be used by ALL skin types, sunscreen should be used even on cloudy rainy days and zinc is the second most abundant mineral in the body.

Dr. Cherise M. Levi: Don’t underestimate visible light.  Visible light is the spectrum of light that our eyes can actually see, the wavelengths of light which create color. Research in recent years has shown that DNA damage to skin comes not only from ultraviolet radiation, but also from this visible light spectrum.

Nicole Silverstein Astaphan: According to EltaMD.com : Sun damage manifests as sunburns or tans. Yes, even a tan is damage. These are both signs that your skin is getting too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Acute sunburns are painful, and once the inflammation and redness resolve, your skin may blister and peel. These effects are unfortunate but short-lived. The real danger of such burns is how they accumulate over your lifetime and contribute to a number of skin problems down the road.


Ayana Dermatology

2140 NE 26th Street

Fort Lauderdale, FL 33305



4Ever Young

Fort Lauderdale Office

4331 North Federal Highway

Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308



5458 Town Center Road – Suite 19

Boca Raton, FL 33486



Genesis Health Institute

1001 NE 26th Street

Wilton Manors, FL 33305



Silk Laser + Aesthetics Centre

924 N. Federal Hwy

Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33304

Office 954-462-7455


Photo by Marina Sirazetdinova from Pexels

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