| May 13, 2021
Sunscreen is Sexy! Know the truth of SPF Sunscreen
Got your attention? Great! We realize the great risks of printing a boring article about SPF sunscreen. If you’ve read this far, congratulations! You will probably keep reading, and you will be glad you did. If you’ve decided to turn the page instead, ok…but you will miss out on the opportunity to gain some valuable nuggets of information. Which means, you would miss out on the chance to impress your friends with all your new sunscreen “factoids” at that next cocktail party!
Sure, everyone knows that using SPF sunscreen is a good thing to do. We understand everyone already knows that the sun’s rays can cause skin cancer. Also, practically everyone would admit to knowing they should be wearing sunscreen. Many people even believe they know all there is to know about SPF sunscreen. But, surprise – most people really don’t know the true and exciting facts about SPF sunscreen. So, get comfortable and read on!
We’ve all heard about the damage ultraviolet (UV) radiation can create: skin cancer, immune suppression, DNA damage and accelerated aging. Sunscreen is the best line of defense against UV damage, next to avoiding the sun altogether. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that up to 90% of skin changes associated with aging are really caused by a lifetime’s exposure to UVA rays.
Unfortunately, in states where hot sunny days are the norm, many people forget the risks associated with sun exposure. They become a member of the “tomorrow” sunscreen users club – “I’ll use my sunscreen tomorrow.” We’ve found that this type of person usually doesn’t have the facts necessary to be motivated to spend an extra 45 seconds in the morning getting ready for the day. If this rings a bell, we hope this article will be enlightening for you.
Having great skin begins with understanding your true sun exposure and the impact of your behavioral choices. Simply said, how quickly you age visibly is based largely on your choices-not your genetics! At Fresh Image, our responsibility as providers of skin therapy is to address the need for accurate information on this misunderstood topic.
We are here to dispel the all too common myths once and for all with accurate information about sun exposure and sunscreen. These are comments we hear way too often in our office year after year:
“My moisturizer and make-up contain all the sunscreen I need.”
WRONG! The sunscreen in moisturizers and make-up is extremely inadequate for protection from damaging sun exposure! Part of the problem is quantity: a dab of foundation isn’t the same as the amount of sunscreen you need on your face. The other problem is that the sun protecting ingredients in moisturizer and make-up are chemical based. Says Dr. Cynthia Bailey, a Board Certified Dermatologist in Sebastopol, Sonoma County, California:
“When you’re using a product with chemical (or ‘organic’) actives (anything other than zinc oxide or titanium dioxide), a two-hour reapplication is really important. That’s because UV rays break down ‘organic’ actives. Most daily moisturizers with SPF rely on a tiny amount of ‘organic’ actives. This means your sun protection runs out during the day and you’re unprotected! And, it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to reapply your moisturizer or make-up every 2 hours! Bottom line: That daily moisturizer or make-up with SPF 15 is probably giving you a false sense of sun protection security. It’s best to use your favorite moisturizer and then follow that with a real sunscreen. I believe that the best protection comes from products that contain at least 5% of the mineral zinc oxide, with an SPF between 30 and 50.
Zinc oxide is a physical block because it sits on the outer layers of your skin reflecting light, like tennis balls off a racket.
In contrast, chemical sunscreens pass into your skin and stop UV rays with a chemical reaction that happens inside your skin. This reaction generates heat and breaks down the sunscreen as it blocks the UV ray. I don’t like that mechanism of action, and I recommend zinc oxide sunscreens for your broad spectrum sun protection.
The best broad spectrum sunscreens (previously called sun blocks), in my opinion as a dermatologist who has studied sunscreen development for over 30 years, are based in mineral zinc oxide.
The two FDA-approved sunscreen ingredients that block UV-A1 are:
zinc oxide (all of our sunscreens contain zinc oxide – and they always have because I could see the difference on my patients’ skin when they used a zinc oxide sunscreen)
avobenzone (a fragile sunscreen ingredient that I’m not a fan of and that, in my observations, does not work well)
Wear zinc oxide sunscreen on your face every day to fight skin aging. You’ll be reducing your risk of skin cancer too. You’ll love the way your skin looks and feels for years to come!”
“I already use a sunscreen with a high SPF rating.”
Don’t let a high SPF sunscreen rating fool you! An SPF sunscreen rating is for the UVB ray only. “There is no FDA rating to tell you how good an SPF sunscreen is at blocking UVA rays,” says David J. Leffell, MD, professor of Dermatology and Surgery at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn. So when it comes to UVA protection, pay attention to the ingredients and choose a sunscreen with a high percentage of zinc oxide. Professional skin care products are not found at your local drug store or department store; they are available through your medical skin care professional and at your plastic surgeon’s or dermatologist’s office. Our motto is, “Practice Safe Sun!” and we offer several types of zinc oxide sunscreens for a variety of skin types, including one that helps to heal acne and another that adds moisture for dry skin.
“I just need to use sunscreen when it’s sunny out.”
The truth is, damaging UVA rays are constantly present, no matter the season or the weather. If you think you can’t get sun damage on a cloudy day, think again. The UVA rays are so powerful that they can penetrate some clothing and even glass. This includes your car windows, kitchen windows, office windows and even your moon roof and skylights. Most of us have daily passive exposure to the UV rays we don’t even think about. Lifetime cumulative UV exposure to skin is responsible for dryness, wrinkling, elastin and collagen damage, freckling, age spots, other cosmetic changes as well as different types of skin cancers. So, you do need to use sunscreen, year round, every day, even in the winter and even if you aren’t outside for long periods.
Sun damage on skin – Before and After Halo treatment
A recent study was presented at the American Academy of Dermatology’s 2016 conference. 231 women of all ages were quizzed about their lives, including whether they were sun-worshipers. When researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, commissioned by the skincare firm Olay, guessed how old the women were, they found those who took care in the sun tended to have aged slower. The study revealed that those who avoided the sun’s rays had fewer wrinkles and age spots and such a glowing complexion. A few even appeared to be a full two decades younger than they really were!
The supposed rules for a youthful complexion, from drinking lots of water to sleeping well and exercising regularly, failed to hold back the hands of time. The secret of looking young is simply – stay out of the sun. Only keeping out of the sun, and wearing sunscreen when this wasn’t possible, made a difference.
“I need to get a “baseline tan” to protect my skin.”
It’s important to understand that any amount of sun exposure is damaging to your skin. There is no such thing as a “healthy tan.” Any color change to the skin is a result of your skin’s inflammatory response to UV radiation. Your skin is trying to protect you from injury! According to the Media Wellness Center, inflammation is the catalyst for many cancers and diseases. You may reduce your chances of a sunburn with a baseline tan, but that only increases the permanent damage to the collagen, or supportive layer of the skin. The result is permanently crepey, loose, thin skin that you’ll wish you didn’t have. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, a repeated “baseline tan” also significantly increases photo-aging and harm done to the skin cells DNA.
“Tanning beds are more harmful than natural sunlight.”
Who started that fairytale? UV radiation is UV radiation is UV radiation. Get it? In 2004, the National Cancer Institute reported that women who use tanning beds more than once a month are 55% more likely to develop malignant melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that any use of tanning beds was positively associated with melanoma. First exposure before the age of 35 significantly increased the risk of developing melanoma. In fact, 419,254 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. alone can be attributed to indoor tanning, of which 6,199 are deadly melanoma cases according to a recent study inJama Dermatology!
“I already wear sunscreen every day. That’s enough, isn’t it?”
As mentioned above, the use of zinc oxide sunscreen is critical. But, no sunscreen can completely protect the skin from all UV damage. Luckily, there is another line of defense available! Topical vitamin C compliments the benefits of zinc oxide with antioxidant protection. Antioxidants are anti-inflammatory and free radial scavengers. Because of our high standards for quality, we believe only the SkinCeuticals Vitamin C products offer the superior antioxidants we demand. Published in 6 peer-reviewed scientific journals, C E Ferulic is a vitamin C serum formulated under the Duke Antioxidant patent which ensures effective, usable delivery of vitamin C to skin.
We have seen first-hand, with hundreds of patients over many years, the amazing improvements in the skin texture, tone, clarity and wrinkle reduction from using these products.
“Exposure to sunlight is important to help build strong bones.”
It sure is! Sunlight plays an important role in vitamin D synthesis. The reality is, in our sunny state the average person gets enough unprotected sunlight on their face, legs and arms. It is generally believed that 5-30 minutes twice a week without sunscreen is sufficient for the average person. So, no more excuses! Put on that sunscreen every morning before you go out the door!
“When I lay out at the pool (or beach), I cover my face with a towel to protect my skin from any harmful rays.”
While thinking of protecting your face from harmful UV rays is a good thing, it’s important to remember that UVA can go through clothing! It also goes through all but the most heavily tinted windows. The simple little choices we make every day can make an incredible difference in the health of our skin and how quickly we age. Choices, like wearing sunscreen and limiting your sun exposure, the use of professional products and a few easy, anti-aging skin treatments a few times a year, can reduce the visible age of your skin by 10 years. At Fresh Image, we believe in providing a proactive approach, based on accurate, scientific information and years of proven experience.
“I need to wait until after the summer to get skin treatments.”
Not necessarily. It’s true that deep laser treatments and chemical peels are not done during the summer months on someone who is frequently outdoors, tanned or going on a vacation. But, maintenance treatments can be done on those people who use sunscreen daily and limit their sun exposure to a minimal amount. That way, playing “catch-up” at the end of the summer can be avoided, for year round healthy, beautiful skin. Consult a specialist who can create a treatment plan that is best for your lifestyle.
Anyone really can have healthy gorgeous skin all year. It doesn’t have to be a complicated daily ritual, and you don’t have to miss out on some fun in the sun. Now you know it begins simply with using a high quality sunscreen on a daily basis. While we can’t guarantee a spike in your love life, we can guarantee you will reduce the visible aging of your skin. Who doesn’t want that?
See? I told you, sunscreen IS sexy!
Fresh Image Cosmetic Surgery Center