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Not All Sunscreens Are Created Equal

Friday, August 25th, 2017

NOT ALL SUNSCREENS ARE CREATED EQUAL

Today, most of us are aware that we need to apply sunscreen when we are headed to the beach or going to be outside for an extended period of time on a hot July day but have you considered the effects of incidental sun exposure?

The principal reason our skin ages is not our age itself, but rather recurring sun exposure from birth onward. Studies indicate that approximately 80% of our lifetime sun exposure comes from incidental sun exposure, not from a day at the beach. Incidental sun exposure refers to the UV exposure you get while walking your dog, walking to your car, sitting in front of a window in your home or a restaurant, driving to work, etc.

While there is no question that you need to apply and re-apply sunscreen when you are at the beach, it’s also failing to apply a sufficient amount of “proven-effective” broad-spectrum UVA / UVB sunscreen 365 days per year that will speed up your aging process and increase your risk of developing skin cancer. So if you are concerned about looking younger longer, protecting yourself from incidental sun exposure is paramount.

The difficult part of choosing a sunscreen is knowing which ones really offer you the protection you need. Not all sunscreens are created equal.  Some sunscreens offer broad-spectrum protection, while some do not. Some sunscreens are considered physical sunscreens (our preference) and some are considered chemical sunscreens.  More-importantly, some sunscreens are “medical-grade” and must be FDA regulated to prove it’s effectiveness, strength, ingredient content and stability while OTC sunscreens do not have to be regulated.  Chemical sunscreens can cause irritation or stinging when applied to sensitive skin types while physical sunscreens will not.

Sunscreens work by either using titanium dioxide or zinc oxide to physically reflect the sun’s rays or by use of absorbent ingredients referred to as chemical sunscreens, which absorb and break down the UV radiation. Some sunscreens use a combination of both. When choosing a sunscreen, there are some very important elements to look for. Look for labels that say “broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection” and check the ingredient label to make sure it contains micronized zinc oxide and / or titanium dioxide at sufficient levels.   For example, Physical Defense Sunscreen by Castillo MD Skin Science contains 10% Zinc Oxide and 5.5% Titanium Dioxide and Sun Defense Sunscreen contains 12% Zinc Oxide and 7.5% Octinoxate.

For years the media has drilled the importance of “SPF” into our heads.  It is used on labels with cosmetics, moisturizers and sunscreens, but gives us a false sense of protection. SPF (sun protection factor) actually refers only to UVB, a shallow ray that causes skin burns / tans & skin cancer. It is of great importance that we are protected from daily UVA exposure as well. UVA rays are deeper penetrating rays known as “the aging rays.” They are responsible for pre-mature photo-aging and hyperpigmentation, along with some skin cancers.

At Cosmetic Plastic Surgery, we recommend using a medical-grade physical sunscreens rather than chemical sunscreens for optimal protection. I prefer Physical Defense, Prime Defense or Sun Defense for the face and Body Guard for the body. Theses sunscreens by Castillo MD Skin Science are medical-grade and all contain high levels of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide and some contain Octinoxate as well. These medical-grade sunscreens contain important physical (mineral) components we find necessary to provide effective protection:

  1. Finely Micronized Zinc Oxide – 10% -12%
  2. Titanium Dioxide – 5.5% – 8%
  3. Tint (iron oxides) – tinted sunscreen reflects the sun’s powerful rays as an added source of protection.
  4. Antioxidants – to provide future protection against UV and environmental sun damage.
  5. Water resistance (up to 80 minutes). There is no such thing as truly “water-proof,” as all sunscreens will break down within about 80 minutes when exposed to water or perspiration.

I recommend these sunscreens for a few reasons. They are formulated with the highest percentages of Titanium Dioxide and / or Zinc Oxide that I have used to date. I also like that don’t don’t feel like sunscreens. They are not sticky or smelly and actually enhance the appearance of your cosmetics and your bare skin. The cosmetically elegant formulation found in these sunscreens makes them perfect for daily use.

DSC_0475Roxanne Grace Hammond, RMA
Skincare and Laser Specialist
G. D. Castillo, M.D.
COSMETIC PLASTIC SURGERY                                                                     https://www.cosmeticplasticsurgery.com

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