Lately, I've become a sunscreen aficionado . Sure, as a skin care specialist I've always recommended sun protection, but lately it's become my personal mission to find out as much as I can about safe sun practices and share my findings with you, our patients...
Working for Dr. Glazer, we see a plethora of patients needing skin cancer lesion removal and reconstruction. With proper sun protection and precautions, skin cancer is a potentially preventable pathologic process. The other side of excessive sun exposure is the direct link to premature aging. As a medical esthetician, I spend most of my days helping patients deal with skin wrinkling, loss of collagen, discoloration and uneven skin texture. Every one of these concerns is caused and made worse by sun exposure. So a theme occurs with both skin cancers and anti-aging: "An Ounce Of Prevention Is Worth A Pound of Cure"!
A lot of people feel surprised to hear they have skin cancer because they have always worn sunscreen. Why, you might ask, is this occurring so regularly? Recently the FDA has been giving the SPF industry a lot of attention the past few years, cracking down on misleading claims and non-beneficial chemical formulations. Below are some helpful tidbits to help you enjoy the summer while protecting yourself and your family.
Truth time! Tan skin is damaged skin, therefore there is no “healthy” tan. Skin color is produced by a cell called Melanin, which is activated when we are exposed to the sun to protect the structures below the skin. Uneven skin tone and “age spots” are caused by several factors, but perhaps the largest cause is UV exposure.
UVB rays cause skin burning. UVA rays cause skin aging. Both cause skin cancer. Look for broad spectrum protection.
To go further: look for sun products that contain a PHYSICAL sunblocking agent: such as Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide. Physical sunscreens form a barrier ON TOP of the skin. Chemical sunscreens absorb INTO the skin. Because chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the skin, they may cause irritation. Many chemicals have been found to cause hormone disruption and break down over time, offering less effective sun protection.
Reapply every 1-2 hours especially when sweating or swimming, and make sure you are applying enough product to get thorough, even coverage (especially with spray sunscreens, which we love!)
Look for changes with sunscreen regulations and do your research. New FDA laws state that sunscreens can only be listed as SPF 50+ (higher SPF numbers, such as SPF 100, are misleading and do not necessarily provide superior sun protection). Products cannot claim to be a “sunblock” but only a “sunscreen”, nor can they claim to be “waterproof” or “sweat proof”.
Scientists estimate that nearly 42% of adults suffer from vitamin D deficiency. The best way to get an optimal level of vitamin D is through sensible sun exposure (using a physical sunscreen) and daily vitamin D supplements, if deemed necessary by your physician.
No sunscreen, no matter the formulation, is enough to protect against the full spectrum of UVA/UVB rays. A topical antioxidant, such as Obagi Vitamin C 15%, is necessary for the most complete sun protection.
At Glazer Facial Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery, we use Elta MD and Obagi sun products to provide our patients with "an ounce of prevention" before needing "a pound of cure".