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Finding the Best Sunscreen for You
The main ingredient to look for in sunscreens in order to achieve broad spectrum protection is zinc oxide. The sun emits both UVA (aging rays) and UVB (burning rays). Both UVA and UVB lead to skin cancer. SPF (sun protection factor) tells us how much protection we have against UVB rays but NOT UVA. There is not, at this time, a good way to measure blockage of UVA rays and rate it, therefore, you need to know what ingredients are in your sunscreen to help you find the best. Micronized zinc oxide sunscreens are available both over the counter and in physician offices that will provide the necessary protection from the sun’s harmful rays and help prevent skin cancer, brown spots and wrinkles. Be sure to use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater.
The UVA “aging” rays occur consistently all year long so it is important to use a sunscreen as part of your daily routine year round. Apply 15-20 minutes before heading outdoors so the sunscreen has time to absorb. Reapply your sunscreen at least every 2 hours if in water or perspiring. Wear a brimmed hat, attempt to stay under shade, and plan outdoor activities in the morning or evening hours. Since 80% of sunrays penetrate the cloud coverage, don’t forget to apply your sunscreen on these days. If your hands are starting to look older than the rest of your arms, remember that the UVA rays can penetrate the glass in your car windshield. There are a few luxury autos that use a UVA blocking glass but this is not the norm. Don’t forget your sunglasses!
Do not use tanning beds unless you want to increase your risk of skin cancer. Tanning before going to the beach only damages your skin further. Studies have shown that tanning beds emit similar levels of UVB rays as the sun but 10-15x more UVA rays which penetrate deeper into the skin. The overall UV index is 13 for tanning beds versus 8.5 on a warm sunny day.
We are now offering a plant-derived supplement that helps prevent sun damage. You may take one pill a day when you know you will be exposed to the sun. Go to www.heliocare.com for more information on how this works. This research was done out of Harvard. Also consider a topical antioxidant such as Revale or Vit C,E,F or SkinMedica’s TNS Essential Serum.
One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Freckles are nearly always a sign that sun damage has occurred. It takes approximately a golf ball sized portion of sunscreen to adequately cover sun-exposed areas on an adult. Most of us only apply half of that so you may need to use a higher SPF to get a true SPF 15. The atmosphere is reduced in the mountains so the sunrays are much stronger. Short periods of sun exposure can damage the human immune system and make the body more susceptible to infections and cancer. Cold sores (herpes simplex virus) are often triggered by sun exposure. Also, we encourage all of our patients to not smoke for the overall benefit of their skin and health.
Sunscreens available in our office:
||Oil free but moisturizing.|
||Provides long-lasting UV protection|
||Great for kids-bottle turns blue in UV light|
||Perfect for babies and toddlers or sensitive skin.|
||Great transparent sunscreen. Applies easily to skin. Very popular choice.|
||Waterproof Great waterproof sunscreen. Not too heavy feeling.|
||UV Physical Slightly tinted. Great for rosacea patients.|
||Great for acne prone patients or used as an “after-shave.” Available in spray.|
||Good overall protection.|
||Ideal for sensitive skin patients or after any facial procedure.|
Over the Counter: Anything with Zinc Oxide that’s micronized