Ask an expert: Are you sun safe?

Some sun is important not only for the skin, but for a person’s overall well-being. Sunlight is also a source of vitamin D — D3 to be specific. Ten minutes in the sun each day can be highly beneficial, but you must be aware of the photo-aging damage caused by UV rays, such as overall skin aging causing a general deterioration of the skin and its appearance, hyperpigmentation, rough leathery texture, wrinkling, dehydration, impaired immune system, slower cell renewal, DNA damage leading to skin cancers, dilated blood vessels, and slack skin, to name a few. Some sobering statistics from the skin cancer foundation:

More than 90 percent of the visible changes commonly attributed to skin aging are caused by the sun.

Over the past three decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.

People who use sunscreen daily show 24 percent less skin aging than those who do not use sunscreen daily.

There are two main types of rays: UVA and UVB. The UVA rays are the ones that do the most damage, and the UVB rays are what cause you to turn pink (or red).

So how do you protect your skin? There are two types of sunscreens available on the market:

  1. Chemical (absorbs the UV rays)

  2. Physical (deflects the UV rays)

The most common are the chemical sunscreens, but they are less effective because they absorb the rays, they have a higher rate of irritation, they degrade rapidly needing frequent reapplication, the majority of them only protect against UVB, and some of the formulas have chemicals that potentially subject the skin to dangerous ingredients.

The physical blocks are the most effective since they deflect both UVA and UVB rays; they are stable and long-lasting. The only ingredients that do this are either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. How do you know if your sunscreen is chemical or physical? Turn your bottle over and read the active ingredients!

Zinc oxide is an inorganic compound and an essential mineral for the body. It plays an important role in cell production, promotes healthy skin and hair, boosts the immune system and also provides broad-spectrum protection. Zinc oxide is not absorbed by the skin; rather it sits on the skin’s surface, blocking both UVA and UVB rays.

Titanium dioxide is nonirritating, nonallergenic and noncomedogenic, which means it doesn’t cause or aggravate acne, and it offers both UVA and UVB protection.

The other factor in sun protection is the SPF. This number refers only to the protection offered from UVB, not UVA, and refers to the amount of time you are protected, not how strong it is. SPF does not actually increase proportionately with a designated SPF number – for example, an SPF 15 indicates 95 percent absorption, and an SPF 30 indicates 97 percent absorption. So a 30 is not twice as effective as a 15! And if you are using a chemical sunscreen with a very high SPF (+50) you are just going to increase the likelihood of irritation from all those chemicals!

In 2011, more than 30 years after its first stab at sunscreen regulation, the FDA set down legally binding rules on the marketing of sun protection products. These new FDA rules will help to clear up confusion when purchasing sun protection products and include the following mandates, which were to take effect by summer of 2012.

  1. Labels cannot claim waterproof or sweatproof, only water-resistant and sweat-resistant, and must have evidence of effectiveness lasting 40 or 80 minutes.

  2. No sunscreen will be higher than SPF 50

  3. Labels that say broad spectrum must of evidence of BOTH UVA and UVB protection, and only sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher can claim to reduce the risk of skin cancer or premature aging of the skin.

  4. Directions for use of all sunscreen products will state “reapply every 2 hours.”

  5. Sunscreens can no longer state that they are immediately effective or provide more than two hours of protection unless approved as such by the FDA.

As your skin care specialist, I am committed to the health of your skin, and carry a full line of clinical strength skin care, mineral makeup, and the physical block sunscreens that are necessary for maintaining healthy skin.

If you have questions or concerns about your skin, make an appointment for a complimentary consultation and find out how to take better care of it! Book online at

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