Sun Block 101

So many clients come in the office asking about healthy skin and anti-aging and how to treat their “problematic” skin and while there are ways to address all of those present concerns the number one most important factor remains, protection. Most of the problems we face with our skin could have been either prevented all together or minimized by simply protecting our skin better in the first place. So what does that mean you ask? Well the answer is simple, sun block, sun block, and more sun block. Now I know when I say that everyone is thinking, Ok… well I put on sun block whenever I go to the pool, or go for a run, are hang out outside. But what if I told you you’re doing it all wrong? And if you’re like 90% of my clients, you are. There are only three basic rules to effective sun protection: type, frequency, and area. Not all sun block products are created equally and that is just the truth. Don’t believe me then ask the FDA who just released new guidelines for what types and amounts of ingredients have to be in something so that it can legally be called “sun block”. That being said there are two basic types of sun blocks, physical blocks and chemical blocks. In the past most sun blocks just contain chemicals, like ocotinoxate, PABA and, oxybenzone, that protected your skin when it was exposed to the sun. Recent studies have shown that not only are chemical ingredients not doing an adequate job of protecting our skin, they might actually being doing more harm than good overall. The new regulations require that those same chemically based sunscreens to add in at least 5% zinc oxide or 7% titanium dioxide in order to provide adequate sun protection. Chemical ingredients have also proven to cause irritation to the skin, an increase in free radical exposure - making us age faster, and possible hormone disruption. Is your sun block suddenly not sounding as appealing as before? Well, that why I only wear and suggest products that are based on physical blocks that contain a combination of zinc oxide and titanium oxide that adds up to at least 12% in total for better protection and less risk factors. Most of my clients apply sun block before they spend a long period of time outside on sunny days. Which simply stated isn’t often enough. As a general rule sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours. Even on a cloudy day you can get a sun burn, or at least absorb enough harmful rays to increase your skins aging rate and add to any pigmentation issues you might be fighting. Even indoors we need to be concerned about sun exposure, especially those of us with skylights, glass windows, or glass doors. Normal glass only blocks out UVB rays allowing in UVA rays which go deeper into the skin and add to wrinkling and droopy skin. Be sure the sun block you’re wearing states that it is “broad spectrum” since SPF rating doesn’t tell us whether or not UVA rays are being blocked by the product. If you’re like me and concerned about your make-up and reapplying, invest in a powdered sun block like colore science’s sunforgettable mineral powder brush. It is easy to forget about body areas that we cover up with clothing when applying sun block. While clothing does create a barrier between your skin and the sun it does not block out all of the rays. It’s not uncommon to sunburn under sheer or thin fabrics either. My advice is to apply a broad spectrum physical sun block like Elta MD’s UV Physical Broad Spectrum SPF 41 under your clothing before you venture outside, wear a camisole or some sort of undergarment under thin fabrics that would allow you to remove the outer clothing to reapply every two hours while outside. If this seems like too much work just remember that better protecting your skin is a great safe guard to your overall health. Our skin is our body’s largest organ and its first barrier to the outside world so let’s take care of it like it takes care of us. Not only will you be better safeguarding your health, you will be helping your skin stay younger looking and minimize, if not eliminate, many common cosmetic skin issues. And please, please, PLEASE be sure to apply all of these tips on your children the damage received to the skin in youth is magnified as they grow, so help to a healthy start!