Category Archives: Sunscreen

Do I Need To Wear SPF In The Winter?

In a word, yes.

UVA rays are present whenever there is sunlight. What are UVA rays?

The easiest way to remember is:

UVA rays = the part of sunlight that Ages your skin

UVB rays = the part of sunlight that Burns your skin

Winter sunlight may not be strong enough to burn your skin (or give you a tan) but it still affects your skin.

UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin than UVB rays and cumulative exposure does contribute to the development of certain types of skin cancer.

Additionally, if you are using a physical SPF (like you should be!),  it will work as a physical barrier against the wind and cold.

Find an SPF product you like and commit to wearing it 365 days a year!

Skin Care Advice For My Younger Self

Looking back a few decades, what skin care advice would I give my 25-year old self?

If I could turn back time, I would:

  1. Be more diligent about sun protection. I lived in Los Angeles for 10 years and applied SPF daily but could have done more to protect my skin. I rarely wore hats or long sleeves when hiking outdoors and, looking back at old photos, my skin was consistently a few shades darker. I’ve reversed most of the visible damage but keep my fingers crossed when my dermatologist is checking my scalp every year!
  2. Start taking care of my neck and chest in my earlier. I recently saw a photo from my 33rd birthday, the skin on my jawline and neck was so taut! At the time I was focused on keeping my acne from flaring up, I didn’t consider much below my chin.
  3. Stop picking my acne. It’s simple. But so tempting. A pimple picked lasts twice as long as a pimple left alone. Not to mention the scars.

And now for the good news!

Here are a few things I’ve been consistent with and feel like it’s paid off:

  1. Start using eye cream at a young age. You don’t need to start as a teenager like I did but ingredients in eye cream do a lot more to prevent than correct. Start before you have visible damage and be diligent to get results.
  2. Commit to Retin A and Retinol…for life. To control my acne as a teenager, I used Retin A when it was new to the market. I suffered thru initial redness and flaking but it helped my acne and the residual marks. When I got into the skin care industry, I learned about the different types of Vitamin A derivatives both prescription and over the counter. This ingredient has proven over time to be the gold standard in both acne management and anti-aging.
  3. Crystal Micrdermabrasion treatments are key. I credit crystal micrdermabrasion with clearing up residual acne scars and getting my large pores under control. I got certified in the treatment in the late 90’s (when it was new to the United States) and had as many sessions as my skin could handle. All these years later, if you want resurfacing with no downtime, it’s still the best option.

The Best Skin Care Routine for New Mothers

As a new mother, the best skin care routine can be the last thing on your mind. Feeding your baby and getting enough sleep take priority!

When life gets busy for any reason, products that do double (or triple) duty are key.

While breast feeding, continue to avoid all the topical ingredients you steered clear of during your pregnancy.

It is not uncommon for a new batch of hormonal acne to crop up after giving birth. Your skin may also be sensitive during this time so find gentle products that balance oil production.

During the first few weeks (or months), keep it simple. Cleanse your face twice a day, use an SPF moisturizer during the day and a simple moisturizer at night. Set a realistic goal for yourself and build up to your old routine when you have more time and energy.

I love vitamin therapy: fortifying cleanser for most skin types. It removes makeup (including eye makeup) and rinses clean. The cream formula is gentle yet it won’t clog pores.

Suntergrity Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen is my favorite all in one daytime moisturizer plus SPF. It has antioxidants and zinc oxide which help prevent pregnancy related melasma from getting worse. There is a tinted version if you like a little color.

After cleansing at night, I recommend a simple hydrating cream to calm the skin that won’t clog the pores. moisture therapy: calming repair cream is good for most skin types and can be layered with a serum if you have more time.

Once your baby is sleeping thru the night and you have more than 60 seconds for skin care, add a vitamin C serum and exfoliate 1-2 times a week with glycolic acid. These products with begin to diminish any lingering discoloration from melasma or acne and brighten the skin.

How did people protect their skin before sunscreen?

Do you ever wonder how people protected their skin from the sun thousands of years ago?

Clothing, scarves, and shade were early methods of protecting skin from the sun. However, applying products to the skin for additional protection also started thousands of years ago.

Early civilizations used a variety of plant products to help protect the skin from sun damage.

Ancient Greeks used olive oil to protect their skin from the sun and to condition it after sun exposure. Modern science tells us olive oil has an SPF of 7-8 (and this protection breaks down when the oils is heated) so it is NOT considered effective protection from the sun but given their options, it was better than nothing.

Ancient Egyptians used extracts of rice, jasmine, and lupine plants. Again, these ingredients offered low levels of sun protection but were proven to be very beneficial to the skin and are still used in skin care products today.

Burmese women have used Thanaka cream to protect from sunburn for over 2000 years.  Thanaka is a creamy paste rich in vitamin E and is applied on the face in pretty designs. It also provides a cooling sensation and has anti-inflammatory properties to calm acne.

Zinc oxide, a popular sunscreen ingredient today, was being used for medicinal purposes as long ago as 500 B.C.E.

In the 16th century, pale skin was very important to the the upper class. The clothing of the era covered the body from head to toe but ladies were required to wear uncomfortable Visards to protect their skin from the sunburn when traveling in open carriages.

Thankfully, by the 17th century parasols and bonnets had become popular as a means of protecting the face from the sun.

The production of sunscreen as we know it today started in the 1940’s. More user friendly versions appeared on the market by the 1960’s and in the 1970’s the formulas protected against both UVA and UVB rays.

When faced with options like a Visard or a can of greasy “red vet pet” I’m happy to have my Suntegrity!

Three Ingredients For Younger Skin

Antioxidants

The skin requires a healthy dose of antioxidants every day to prevent new damage and reverse prior skin damage. Layer your antioxidant serum under your SPF for added sun protection.

Retinol

Retinol helps increase skin cell turnover which in turn encourages collagen production. The end result is smoother, brighter skin with less breakouts and clogged pores.

Sunscreen

Everyone needs sun protection, end of story. If you don’t spend much time in the sun, an SPF 15 in your daily lotion is fine, if you get more exposure bump it up to SPF 30.

Sun Protection 101

In honor of Skin Cancer Awareness Month, here are some of the most common questions I receive in my practice regarding sunscreen and sun exposure:

“I work in an office, do I need to wear sunscreen everyday?”

The sun emits two types of rays, UVA and UVB.

UVA rays are present from sunup to sundown and cause the skin to age, UVB rays are strongest from 10am-2pm and cause the skin to burn.

Incidental sun exposure accounts for a large percentage of the damage that shows up in the skin at advanced ages. Daily moisturizer with at least SPF15 is the easiest way to prevent this damage.

Additionally, how many times do you take your lunch to the rooftop deck to enjoy the beautiful view and catch a few rays of sun? It’s better to be protected!

“My makeup has SPF in it so I don’t use a sunscreen.”

How much makeup do you wear??? Do you cover your entire face, neck and ears?

I didn’t think so.

Layering products with SPF for extra protection is great, but start with a base of proper sunscreen for the best protection.

“Sunscreen is TOXIC, I only use all natural products.”

There are two types of sunscreens on the market, chemical and physical.

Several studies argue that chemical sunscreens may disrupt hormones. If this is a concern for you, use a physical sunscreen like zinc oxide.

Thankfully, there are many physical sunscreens on the market today that feel light and leave no white residue.

What’s your excuse for not wearing sunscreen every day?

What’s the difference between BB Cream and CC Cream?

And now there’s DD Cream!

BB = Beauty Balm

CC = Color Corrector

DD = Daily Defense

The bottom line is, these products are new versions of good old fashioned tinted moisturizer.

They can have the added benefits of anti-aging ingredients, anti-acne ingredients, makeup primer and antioxidants but the categories themselves don’t mean that much.

Try a few different products to find one that provides the makeup coverage you prefer but don’t rely on one of these creams for sun protection, layer it over a lightweight SPF to make sure you face is protected.

 

The Top 5 New Years Resolutions for Your Skin

With less than a month left the year, now is a good time to start thinking about New Years Resolutions. Does your skin play a part in yours?

Here are my suggestions for the Top 5 Skin Care Resolutions:

1. Love your skin!

First, (and this is super important!) pick one thing about your skin that you absolutely love. I battled acne in my teens and my 20’s which means that in my 40’s I get to enjoy the benefits of all that extra oil production. It’s important to take a moment and appreciate what we love about ourselves!

2. Wear a product with at least SPF30 every day.

Concerned about controversial sunscreen chemicals? Choose an option with a physical block and pair it with Vitamin D in your multivitamin. This is important year round, no matter wear you live. When the sun is out, you are being exposed to UVA rays which are the rays that damage your collagen and cause premature aging.

3. Get to the dermatologist for a mole check, especially if you’ve never had one.

The frequency of recommended mole checks varies according to your age, history of sun exposure and family history of skin cancer, your dermatologist will tell you what is right for you. Monthly self exams are also recommended.

4. Schedule a consultation with your esthetician.

How long has it been since you’ve reviewed your skin care goals? Sometimes we can go for years using the same skin care products and receiving the same treatments without stopping to check in and see if they are still right for us.

5. Set small skin care goals so you can achieve them.

Overhauling your entire routine is tough, pick one or two things to work on. Washing your face before bed is a great place to start! Got that down? Exfoliating at least once a week is super important too!

Make this the year of great skin!

 

What is the difference between chemical and physical sunscreen?

There are two categories of sunscreen ingredients, physical and chemical.

Physical sunscreen ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide protect the skin by reflecting the light rays.

Figure-1-Diagram-showing-how-physical-and-chemical-sunscreens-actChemical sunscreen ingredients like avebenzone and oxybenzone absorb the light rays to protect the skin from damage.

Physical sunscreens do a better job of protecting the skin from sun damage and chemical sunscreens allow products to have a lighter feel and be water resistant. Many popular brands use a combination of physical and chemical sunscreen ingredients to produce the most user friendly product.

As an esthetician who works with a lot of clients suffering from hyper-pigmentation or melasma (often called “sun spots”), I am a fan of physical sunscreens. There is less opportunity for allergic reactions and they are safer for acne prone/sensitive skin as well.

 

Can I use Coconut Oil for Sunscreen?

Q: I keep seeing posts on social media that say coconut oil is a safe, non-toxic alternative to sunscreen. Is this true?

A: Coconut oil has a naturally occurring SPF or sun protection factor of between 2-8 depending on the quality of the oil.

A quality version of carrot seed oil can contain up to SPF 40 but the high cost and strong scent of this oil makes it a less popular choice. Not to mention, coconut oil seems to be on trend lately, much like olive oil was in the 90’s- which ironically has a similar SPF of 2-8!

An SPF rating of 8 will protect you for 8 times as long as it takes you to begin to turn pink without protection. For someone like me, that’s about 5-7 minutes in full sunlight on a hot day so I would be reapplying coconut oil every 45 minutes. It takes me about 10 minutes to properly apply sunscreen to my entire body so you get the picture.

Native tribes used natural oils mixed with clays and bark like thanakha in Burma for protection from the sun. The skin builds it’s natural resistance to the elements when exposed to them for long periods of time as well. Our culture spends the majority of our time indoors so our skin can be especially sensitive to overexposure. Experimenting with non-proven sunscreen methods can be dangerous and increase your chances for skin cancer in the future.

Non-nano particle zinc oxide is a proven sunscreen ingredient that will insure you are protected from the cancer causing rays of the sun without exposing your body to possible endocrine disrupting ingredients.  Look for a product containing at least 15%, like Suntegrity.

Suntegrity

When IS Clinical discontinued my all time favorite sunscreen product I was pretty upset. Dealing with melasma issues, sunscreen is a huge part of my daily skin care routine and I’m very picky about which product I use.

After searching high and low, I discovered Suntegrity products and now I’m hooked. In fact, my melasma is doing better than ever.

Suntegrity uses only the physical sunscreen ingredient, Zinc Oxide, to provide protection which does more to prevent the recurrence of melasma than a chemical sunscreen.  The Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen and Primer employees a full 20% Zinc Oxide to protect your skin, without using any parabens, sulfates, PABA, titanium dioxide, nano-particles or chemical UV absorbers. And of course it’s vegan and cruelty free (PETA & Leaping Bunny Certified).

The consistency is a bit thicker than a product that contains chemical sunscreen but it absorbs quickly without leaving any white residue (even my darkest clients are happy with it!) and the light citrus scent is a nice bonus.

The top 3 sunscreens for your face

Since summer is upon us once again and recent studies show its anti-aging effects, everyone is talking about sunscreen.

My top 3 favorite sunscreen products for the face:

For daily use I like Suntegrity Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen & Primer SPF 30. With 20% Zinc Oxide, it provides the most complete coverage I’ve found yet it sheer enough even for dark skin tones.

If you like a tinted moisturizer with SPF or a “BB cream” try Suntegrity “5 In 1” Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen SPF 30. Available in light and medium.

If you hate the feel of sunscreen try IS Clincal Eclipse SPF 50. This ultra light lotion is a favorite among my male clients.

Enjoy the sun this summer but make sure you’re protected!

Skin care for the great outdoors

Does your idea of a fun weekend include a Saturday morning ocean swim followed by a short hike and mountain biking on Sunday?

Outdoor activities require specific skin care considerations.

I cannot stress sun protection enough. And I mean thick, white, water-resistant sunscreen that you would never wear on a day to day basis. Yes, it may clog your pores but it will also help prevent a myriad of skin conditions ranging from unsightly Melasma to serious skin cancers. I like the Suntegrity Face Sunscreen for the face and Neutrogena SPF 70 for the body.

Both of these products utilize a physical sunscreen ingredient. A physical block (like titanium dioxide) contains particles that do exactly that, physically block the sun light. This also helps protect your skin from other elements like wind and cold.

Before you get dressed in the morning, apply SPF lotion to your face and entire body. This will ensure you don’t miss crucial areas on the edges of your active wear. Use a full 2 ounces to cover your body and a blob the size if a quarter for your face, neck and ears.

Re-apply often; immediately after an water-based activity or every 1-2 hours. I like spray sunscreens for re-applying on the body, it’s easier if you are wearing cycling gloves, have dirty hands etc. SPF sticks are helpful to for re-application to the face.

Wear a hat with sun protection, sun glasses with adequate coverage, long sleeves, and a high neckline when you can. If you have short hair, thin hair (or no hair!) don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your scalp.

After you activity, your first order of business is to clean your face. Keep facial cleansing cloths in your bag for a quick wipe before you head home.

Once you are able to give your face a good washing, use a gentle cleanser to cleanse twice. Lather, rinse, repeat. This will ensure your skin is clean without over drying.

Exfoliate on a regular basis. Use an enzyme peel 2-3 times a week and a gentle toner daily to keep dead skin to a minimum and pores clean.

The Appeal of the Sun

Last week I found myself in a yoga class of 40+ people and I was one of the handful of students without a tan…and yes, I mean intentional tans: dark, even, no tan lines. Living in San Francisco I can only surmise the majority of this color did not come from the sun.

Why are so many people still tanning with everything we know about sun exposure? And even worse, why are people using tanning beds???

Tanning beds are calibrated to emit mostly UVA radiation, the deep penetrating rays that are responsible for golden-brown skin color, not UVB radiation, which affect the surface layers of the skin and cause it to burn. In addition to premature aging, UVA rays are the cause of Melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. Regular use of these beds can triple your risk of developing Melanoma.

The health benefits of sunshine, the role it plays in vitamin D synthesis, has been in the news a lot in recent years. UVB rays are responsible for this synthesis so spending time in a tanning bed will not help your vitamin D deficiency. Exposing your face and arms to 20 minutes of sunlight per day meets the requirements for most people to synthesize vitamin D.

The world of SPF can be confusing. I’m glad the FDA has decided to step in and simplify the labels as well as regulate protection from both UVA and UVB rays.

Confused by SPF? Take a number.

The bottom line: intentional tanning is never good, you are only damaging your skin. Find a sunscreen lotion that protects from both UVA and UVB rays: try several, the more you like the texture and smell, the more you will use it. When you know you will be in the sun for an extended period of time, wear a hat and long sleeved shirt in addition to SPF. And lastly, make sure you are using enough SPF lotion: a 4oz tube should only last 3 months if you are applying it to your face daily.