While most of us head to the drugstore for products in hopes of clean and clear skin, Cindy was reading up on the science of skin. Driven by her obsession with skin at a young age, Cindy Bae, M.D., is now a leading procedural dermatologist at the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York.
She specializes in Mohs micrographic surgery, used to treat skin cancers, as well as laser surgery and cosmetics. Her work has been published in several book chapters and notable journals, and she's researched sun protection with the Women's Dermatologic Society as part of the Play Safe in the Sun Campaign.
Our team caught up with Cindy to discuss UV rays, SPF, and all things sun protection.
What are UV rays and how do they affect the skin?
Ultraviolet (UV) rays are the major cause of skin cancer and skin aging. The way in which they affect the skin can be seen with skin cancer, wrinkles, age spots, sagging skin, discoloration, textural changes to the skin and more.
What does SPF stand for and how do you ensure an appropriate level of sun protection?
SPF stands for sun protection factor - it represents the length of time a given a sunscreen can protect the skin.
It's determined in 3 steps:
1. The time it takes for unprotected skin to
become red from the sun is recorded.
2. Sunscreen is applied to a different area of the
skin, and the time it takes to get red with protection
3. If the protected skin takes 30 times longer to become
red than the unprotected skin, then an SPF of 30
As a dermatologist, I recommend that patients use broad spectrum (covering UVA and UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day. Personally, I ensure an appropriate level of sun protection by applying sunscreen daily to sun exposed areas (mainly my face), and wearing sunglasses and a hat. I seek shade whenever I can. Furthermore, I take and apply antioxidants daily to help combat any DNA damage incurred by the sun.
Is it important to wear sun protection at all times, whether it's sunny or cloudy?
Although the sun may not feel as "strong" on a cloudy day, UV rays will still be present, affecting the skin. It is important to know that sun damage can start within a few minutes of sun exposure, even sunlight through a car window can wreak havoc on the skin.
Tips for protecting our eyes from the sun?
UV filtering sunglasses! I cannot tell you how many patients we are seeing with skin cancers along their eyelids. It happens, but the reassuring part is that it can be prevented. Melanoma can also occur in the eye!
What are the latest findings about sun protection and how has it evolved?
Recently, a 14-year study in Australia showed that those who used daily sunscreen slashed their risk of developing melanoma by 50% compared to those who did not. That underscores the importance of using daily sunscreen! Sun protection has evolved as companies are coming out with more elegant formulations accommodating a variety of skin types/sensitivities and activity levels (water resistant sunscreen). We are becoming more sophisticated with these products, especially with the level of protection they provide (UVA vs UVB).
Favorite skincare product?
This always changes...right now it is Skin Medica TNS Essential Serum.
Childhood dream job?
Doctor. Then Actor
Coffee or tea?
One super power?
Best advice I ever got?
Don’t sell yourself short.
Emoji that best describes me?
Favorite COVRY frames?
Maia Summer Sky! I love the oversized shape.
Check out some of Cindy's must-read articles on skincare: