Showing posts with label Sunscreen 101. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sunscreen 101. Show all posts

Must Know Sunscreen Tips

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Must Know Sunscreen Tips

Did you know that every time your skin is exposed to the sun, you are damaging it? Yes, it is true! I have a post up over on eBay with some great must know sunscreen tips.

Also new this weekend over on eBay:

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Skin Cancer Awareness and Looking for Sunscreen

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Skin Cancer Awareness

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and it's the perfect time to go over what everyone should know about skin cancer, and what you should do to prevent it in yourself and your loved ones!

Skin cancer is very, very common. Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon combined. Yes. And they aren't all the deadly melanoma we hear about the most often, treatment of non-melanoma skin cancers increased by nearly 77 percent between 1992 and 2006. A whopping one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of their lifetime!

Think you can't get skin cancer? Think again! Each year, a diagnosis of melanoma is made in 1 per 100,000 people in African Americans, 4 per 100,000 in Hispanics, and 25 per 100,000 in non-Hispanic whites. Which means you can be any ethnicity and still be diagnosed. Melanomas in African Americans, Asians, Filipinos, Indonesians, and native Hawaiians most often occur on non-exposed skin with less pigment, with up to 60-75 percent of tumors arising on the palms, soles, mucous membranes and nail regions. The overall average 5-year melanoma survival rate for African Americans is only 75 percent, versus 93 percent for whites.

How to pick the best sunscreen

Yes, skin cancer can be scary, and roughly 90% of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to the sun! That means that there is something very easy you can do to prevent skin cancer. Yes, wear your sunscreen. Wear it every day.

1. Daily Sunscreen
Whether you're spending a sunny day at the beach or just heading to work, you'll be exposed to UV radiation from the sun and should be protecting yourself from the sun. While it's been proven that daily sunscreen is best to help prevent aging, the same is likely true for skin cancer risk. You should be wearing sunscreen every day, and it should be in either your daily lotion or as a separate sunscreen. The amount in your makeup doesn't count, you aren't applying enough of it to reach the SPF value on the bottle. Make a habit of applying sun protection every morning!

2. SPF 30 or Higher
I'm sure you've heard that over a certain SPF value, it doesn't matter right? Well, actually... it does matter. Because most of us don't apply enough sunscreen, studies have found that we actually are getting about 20-50% of the stated SPF value simply because of incorrect application. So, it is better to start off with a higher SPF product to start with.

But what do the higher numbers really mean?
SPF 8 blocks 87% of UVB rays
SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays
SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays
SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays
SPF 100 blocks 99% of UVB rays

That difference in 93% vs 98% of UVB rays may not sound like much, but it can be very important when you take into account incorrect sunscreen usage, especially if you have a personal or family history of skin cancer! Use the highest SPF you can use in order to be sure that you're getting great UV protection.

3. Look for Full Spectrum Coverage
It isn't enough to just look for the words "Broad Spectrum" on your sunscreen. Unfortunately, the way that the sunscreen label rules were written by the FDA, it is possible to have a broad spectrum sunscreen that doesn't cover UVA II rays! The SPF is determined by the UVB coverage. If there's enough UVA I coverage (at a certain wavelength) then it can be labelled as broad spectrum. Unfortunately, that means it is possible to have a good SPF and broad spectrum sunscreen that doesn't cover the full spectrum. Check your sunscreen's active ingredients to be sure you have a full spectrum product!

Full spectrum uv coverage from sunscreen

4. Apply at the Right Time
Your sunscreen needs to be applied to your skin before your makeup, and you should be applying it about 20-30 minutes before sun exposure to give it time to be absorbed and ready to protect your skin.

5. Apply the Right Amount
You'll need to apply 1 ounce, roughly the amount of a shot glass, to your entire body to reach the correct coverage. You need about a teaspoon to cover the average adult face as well.

6. Reapply Often
To keep your SPF working, you'll need to reapply pretty often. At least every 2 hours, and really more like every 90 minutes or so when you're being exposed to a lot of sun, such as at the beach. You also need to reapply after water exposure, even if your sunscreen is water resistant.

PCA SKIN Weightless Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 45

Ideal Sunscreen Use Example
I thought it would be great to go through a "typical" sunscreen use example so you can see really how I use sunscreen!

One of my current favorites is PCA SKIN's Weightless Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 45. I love that this sunscreen is lightweight, sinks in to your skin very easily and doesn't feel heavy or sticky. You can use it on your face under makeup or all over your body. The formulation also contains anti-oxidants (Caffeine and Silybin from Milk Thistle plants) to help protect your skin from further sun damage. The UV protection is full spectrum, and with SPF 45 I'm protecting my pale, freckle-prone skin from a lot of UV damage. The higher SPF also means that even if I don't apply quite enough I'm still likely to have a pretty high SPF value of protection.

I would apply this at home before getting dressed. Especially if I was heading to the beach or pool where I need to have sunscreen applied to areas like my back and upper legs. It is much easier to contort myself and reach every little spot on my body in the privacy of my own home! Applying before putting on my suit means I'll have an even application all over, rather than missed spots right next to my suit. As well, this means that I'll have 20-30 minutes before sun exposure so the product can fully absorb into my skin.

Once I leave, I'll bring a bottle with me for reapplications. I'll reapply every 2 hours and after swimming. Because this bottle is only 2.2 ounces, that means it is 2 full applications, plus a little extra, maybe an extra application to your face or shoulders? One bottle of sunscreen really is roughly 1 day out in the sun, not a full summer of protection!

Note that this is actually a face sunscreen! The teaspoon of recommended sunscreen for your face is really to reach about 0.8 g of product. Since this tube is 62.4 g, you'll get months of use if you use it on your face. But, it's about one day of high sun exposure activity to me, and I love how lightweight it is. I'll be stocking up to use it at the zoo and other intensive sun locations this summer! It's much nicer to wear than other, much heavier sunscreens.

In honor of Skin Cancer Awareness Month, PCA SKIN is holding a photo contest to see your PCA SKIN sunscreen in action! For every photo submitted and every vote cast, PCA SKIN will donate $1 to The Skin Cancer Foundation.*

How to Enter:
Post a pic of your PCA SKIN sunscreen on Instagram with #imcovered and #pcaskincontest, or upload directly to PCA SKIN, you have until May 25! Voting is May 26-31, and each vote will also result in a donation. The grand prize winners (one from votes and one picked by PCA SKIN) will win a year’s supply of PCA SKIN broad spectrum sunscreen and an outdoor swag package worth over $800. It includes the sunscreen, a beach cruiser, a designer tote, aviator sunglasses and a summer fedora!

Image- iStockPhoto
Skin Cancer facts from
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This post is sponsored by PCA SKIN, but all opinions are mine!
*Up to $5,000

Not Just Sunscreen: Skin Tips For Out In the Sun

Nothing to Disclose

Not Just Sunscreen: Skin Tips For Out In the Sun

I'm a big advocate of sunscreen. This pale girl doesn't do much beyond freckle when I'm outside, not a look I'm fond of for me. I also have a mom that's avoided the sun most of her life, and now you can really see a big difference in her looks when you compare her to some friends that worshipped the sun. My goal is to be my mom, younger looking than my friends, and to avoid the clumps of freckles.

I've written a lot about sunscreen. I have a whole Sunscreen 101 series, a ton of sunscreen reviews and I even obsess over whether a product is actual full UV spectrum coverage or just broad spectrum. (And yes, it does make a difference!)

But, there's a lot of things you should be doing to protect your skin all summer long, not just wearing sunscreen. So, I asked a few of my favorite dermatologists what their advice is for a day out in the sun. Do they recommend using anti-oxidant creams after sun exposure, any hydrating lotions, etc?

Brian Zelickson, MD is the founder of MD Complete Skincare
"Physical protection, hats with brims, sunglasses, lip balm, etc. I do really like adding anti-oxidants as well both before and after sun exposure and retionoids after exposure. Hydration is key as well so best to use products that also have good moisturizers in them like MD Complete."

David Bank, MD is a Dermatologist at The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic and Laser Surgery in Mount Kisco, NY
"Try to stay in the shade if possible and always reapply sunscreen at least every two hours. Wear a hat and sunglasses to protect sensitive areas and constantly rehydrate.
After sun exposure, apply a lightweight moisturizer with soothing aloe. Lighter lotions tend to be absorbed into the skin faster than heavy creams.
Using antioxidant products will help fight age lines and free radical damage from the environment."

Eric Schweiger, MD is a Dermatologist at Clear Clinic Acne Treatment Center in New York City
"Besides sunscreen, I would recommend using an antioxidant serum containing vitamin C to help combat free radicals and provide a secondary line of protection against UV rays."

Karen Stolman, MD is a Dermatologist in Salt Lake City and she writes Skinality
"Yes, I like the anti-oxidant serums for before and after sun exposure. In addition, the oral supplement called Heliocare can be taken prior to sun exposure."

Debra Jaliman, MD is a Dermatologist in New York City
"Wraparound sunglasses, hat, sun protective clothing. After the sun, moisturize with antioxidants."

Haley Kulow is a makeup artist and esthetician in New York City
"Drink tons of water, avoid hot showers after, aloe is the best after a day in the sun since it naturally cools your skin.
Apply moisturizer directly after washing your face to lock in hydration."

Dr. Goldfaden
"Protective clothing and hats area must! Having an umbrella can help as well. After sun always hydrate your skin with a serum . Look for one that is anti-inflammatory (Red Tea), hydrating (hyaluronic acid) and soothing (aloe, camomile or oatmeal)."


What I'm Looking for In Sunscreen

tips for picking your best sunscreen

I've had a lot of readers asking me recently about my personal preferences/choices for sunscreen, so I thought a quick little post was in order. I've covered a lot of the background info on how sunscreens work and different things that you need to keep in mind when picking one in my sunscreen 101 series.

Physical vs Chemical Sunscreens
You should note that I am not particular about chemical vs. physical sunscreens, though I know some people are.
• If you have any sort of sensitivity to your skin or a skin condition, typically a physical sunscreen is the way to go.
• If you are concerned about chemical sunscreens being absorbed, look for a physical sunscreen. However, micronized physical sunscreens can also be absorbed.
•I know that the EWG makes a big deal about oxybenzone and estrogen mimicry. I've looked at the literature, it was a study in rats. Not humans. Obviously our endocrine systems are exactly the same. So, I've decided that for me, oxybenzone is fine, so I don't avoid it. This is a personal decision, but know that the jury is still out (I haven't seen anyone duplicate the study, though no one has come out with evidence against it either).
• Physical sunscreens tend to feel heavier on the skin, this is the main reason I go more for chemical sunscreens. If I'm not comfortable in my sunscreen I won't wear it, so what's the point?

I think about sunscreen for different situations, and my preferences are a little different depending on what I need. So, my preferences for each of these situations can change.

Everyday Sunscreen
I don't usually wear a sunscreen every day on my body. I wear one every day on my face, and for this I want one that is built into my daily lotion, not a separate product. I tend to skip it if I need to do an extra step.
• I want at least SPF 15, 30 is better. Since this is meant to protect me just as I go about my daily business and not protect me for major sun exposure (such as hanging out at a pool, yard work, etc), I'm not picky about covering the entire UV spectrum. I want some UVA coverage, but I don't freak out if I only have part of the UVA range covered.
• The sunscreen can not be part of my makeup or come in a powder form. I don't apply enough foundation/tinted moisturizer to count and I'm not going to apply enough powder to reach that actual SPF (the average woman applies 1/14th of the amount of powder needed to get that SPF). Not gonna happen. So, those SPF numbers are a little bonus, but I completely ignore them.
• I want to not feel the sunscreen that I'm wearing, don't want it to make my skin shiny and I certainly don't want it to interfere with my makeup application.

High Suns Exposure Sunscreen
When I am spending more time outside than walking to and from the car, I'll go for a higher level of sun protection. For a typical day outside doing gardening, hanging out at Disneyland (oh, how I miss my yearly pass) or just with family, I'll go for a SPF 30. If I'm on a beach vacation with my hubby, we tend to spend a lot of time chilling at the pool, so I'll go for SPF 50+, even as high as 80 or 100.
• Full UV spectrum coverage is a must.
• I'm ok with feeling the sunscreen on me, but I can't be uncomfortable with stickiness.
• I actually kind of like smelling like sunscreen a little at the pool, but it can't be overwhelming.
• For those SPF 30 situations, I like to be able to put some makeup on without issues. If I'm at the pool I wear minimal makeup so this is not as important.

So, that's what I look for. Starting soon I'll be featuring some sunscreen reviews, so watch for those. What do you look for in your sunscreen?


The FDA's New Sunscreen Ruling: What Does It Mean?

You may have heard that the FDA has come out with new sunscreen guidelines today. While the changes won't "really" take effect until June 2012, chances are that products with the new labels will start popping up at stores near you in the next 4-6 months.

Read on to learn more about how things are labelled this summer and how that will be changing next year.

Dear 16 Year Old Me.... Why Tanning is Bad and You Should Wear Sunscreen

Why Tanning is Bad and You Should Wear Sunscreen

You may have noticed that I'm a bit obsessed with avoiding the sun. I'm a pale Irish girl with a lot of red headed relatives. I freckle and burn, no tan in sight. I've tried to do the tanning thing in the past (I've never tanned in a bed, only outside), but with little success. By default I've embraced the pale, happy about the anti-aging benefits of my choice.

Not everyone is lucky with their sun exposure. My husband's uncle died of Melanoma at 41. A friend of the family was diagnosed at 18 (she's had Mohs surgery and is now fine). I watched an 8 year old die of Melanoma as a pediatrics resident.

In the last 24 hours I've had five family members post this video to their Facebook pages.


Kids and Sun Exposure: The AAP's Standing

If you watched the news yesterday, you may have heard a story amongst the Libya and Oscar stories that brings together 2 very different aspects of my life. Beauty blogging and my "normal" job, pediatrics. On March 1st the AAP released their latest Policy Statement—Ultraviolet Radiation: A Hazard to Children and Adolescents.

So, what does the policy statement say? It's not exactly earth shattering, at least in my mind. Really, it's stuff that everyone should know already, especially if you read my blog. Though, it is full of things likely to make the indoor tanning industry upset.

A Conversation about Sunscreen with Coppertone's Dr. Elizabeth Hale

I thought this had auto-published with my Coppertone Sport review. Unfortunately, not the case.

Coppertone arranged for Dr. Elizabeth Hale to answer some sunscreen questions! Dr. Hale is a Clinical Associate Professor of Dermatology at NYU. Dr. Hale specializes in skin cancer and in particular Mohs Surgery to treat skin cancer, so you know she has a huge interest in prevention with sunscreen!

What do you tell your patients about the importance of sunscreen?
In general, dermatologists urge everyone to wear a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher every single day. While UVB rays are the main cause of sunburn and are especially abundant in the warm summer months, UVA rays are present year-round and can pass through clouds and windows.

Does the release of this new sunscreen make advising your patients easier?
Absolutely, as an athlete myself CT Sport with Replenishing Antioxidants helps enhance the skin’s natural defenses against UV radiation during outdoor activity, which makes it a great choice for active patients.

In your mind, what are the most important features to look for in a sunscreen?
Broad-spectrum protection; UVA-blocking ingredients like photostabilized avobenzone on the label. The most important sunscreen is the one you will use every day.

In the event of a sunburn, what do you advise patients to do?
If you do slip up and get a sunburn, make sure to stay out of the sun until you have healed completely. I recommend taking an NSAID and keeping the skin moist with a good soothing moisturizer (maybe one with aloe) while it heals.


Coppertone Sport: UV Protection and Anti-Oxidants in 1 Step

Coppertone Sport, Broad Spectrum, Sunscreen, Sunblock
Finally, I am starting my sunscreen reviews. It can be a little hard to try and be original when writing about sunscreens over and over, so I've decided to forgo that and we'll just be as straight forward as possible.

Coppertone Sport has long been one of my favorite sunscreens for intense sun exposure. Primarily I take it on vacation (I like to go on Hawaiian vacations where I sit by the pool and occasionally swim) and its waterproof/sweatproof formula definitely is appealing for that situation. In addition, my husband is more than willing to use it as it isn't too girly.

Sunscreen 101: Anti-Oxidants and Photoprotection

Sunscreen 101, how sunscreens work, uv range, antioxidants, anti-oxidants
If you read my giant post yesterday on anti-oxidants, you likely noticed that I kept bringing up photoprotection and how anti-oxidants helped repair sun damage. So, what is all that about? Can you use anti-oxidants instead of sunscreen? Are they an adjunct?


Anti-Aging 101: Anti-Oxidants

antioxidants in skin care
antioxidants in skin care and aging

As part of my Anti-Aging 101 Series, I have decided to revamp old posts that describe different ingredient categories. I'll go over how and if these ingredients work. Not a lot has changed regarding some of these ingredients (such as anti-oxidants), but I'm planning to take advantage of the 2 cosmetic dermatology books I have in revamping these posts, so there likely will be some new info.

The involvement of free radicals in the aging process was first proposed all the way back in 1956, and it is one of the few things in anti-aging that is widely accepted. Free radicals have not only been implicated in the overall aging process, but also in photoaging, skin cancer and inflammation (which in turn contributes to aging, photoaging and some postulate skin cancer).

So, what is a free radical? How can you mitigate all this damage, and what exactly is an anti-oxidant?

Well, what exactly is an antioxidant? It's something that fights free radicals. I think that it was explained best by Alton Brown from the Food Network.

creation of a free radical
Basically, the free radicals are created when they give up or lose an electron. That lose leaves a hole, and the newly created free radical doesn't know how to cope with this. It goes crazy trying to fix that hole, which means in your skin the free radical bounces around in skin cells, causing damage to things like your cell membrane or even your DNA, attempting to fix that hole.

What do the free radicals do to your skin? The reactive oxygen will go around seeking another electron, and it doesn't particularly care where it comes from. It can attack cellular proteins, cell membranes, parts of the cytoskeleton, the extra-cellular matrix, even the DNA of the cell itself. We don't know all of the exact mechanisms involved in free radical damage.

So, now that you know what a free radical is, how are they created? Pretty much anything that challenges the skin.
•UV Rays (Sunlight)

free radical neutralization
Antioxidants help to control the free radical damage by getting rid of the free radicals. They can donate an extra electron to the free radical, filling that hole and fixing the behavior. The free radical no longer goes around causing damage.

The skin does have it's own antioxidant system to help to counteract these free radicals, however over time the free radicals can continue to damage cells and their DNA. In addition, your body's antioxidants decrease with age, leaving the free radicals unchecked, and leaving your cells, cell membranes and DNA more vulnerable to damage. This results in loss of firmness, radiance, elasticity and can contribute over time to aging of the skin. Notice that I said over time. Because in theory you're experiencing this type of damage all the time, though more so after exposures to sun and such. But, the damage is cumulative and although you won't be able to see results right away, chances are you will see them in the long term. I think of this as similar to wearing sunscreen. You might not see a big difference now, but if you compare yourself to your friends that didn't do it in 10 years, you'll likely see a difference.

The skin does have it's own anti-oxidant system to help to counteract these free radicals. Our bodies are smart and produce anti-oxidants as part of its own normal processes as well as in response to those same stresses that create the free radicals! So, expose yourself to UV rays, there will be free radicals produced, but your body will respond with anti-oxidant production. Sounds great, right? Sure, except that it takes your body quite a bit longer to produce the extra anti-oxidants than it took the sun to create the free radicals. So, you will have a lag, which allows time for that damage to take place. As well, your body's ability to produce those anti-oxidants will decrease with age. That means more time for that damage to occur.

How does all of this translate over to your skin? You'll see loss of firmness, radiance, elasticity and can contribute over time to aging of the skin. Notice that I said over time. Because in theory you're experiencing this type of damage all the time, though more so after exposures to sun and such. But, the damage is cumulative and although you won't be able to see results right away, chances are you will see them in the long term. I think of this as similar to wearing sunscreen. You might not see a big difference now, but if you compare yourself to your friends that didn't do it in 10 years, you'll likely see a difference.

A huge number of antioxidants are on the market right now, here's a quick overview of a few of them. Note that some of these are applied topically, but some can also be taken orally. Is one better than the other? We're not sure. But, since most of these are simply vitamins, I think you probably couldn't go wrong with improving your diet and using a product with an anti-oxidant in it. Currently Vitamin C is the only anti-oxidant that really "treats" aging once it has occurred. This is likely due to the collagen production boosting affects of Vitamin C rather than the anti-oxidant effects. So, anti-oxidants are aging preventors, with the exception of Vitamin C. Just keep that in mind.

Now, this is the boring part of the post where I list a bunch of ingredients and quote a little bit of stuff from some reviews I've found on-line and then researched a bit on my own to make sure stuff was accurate. I'm by no means an expert on anti-oxidants (especially since there are so many of them), but here's some info on the ones you're most likely to run in to.

Long used to help protect the skin in creams and lotion, allantoin was thought to be a skin protectant. It has been called a "cell proliferant, epithelization stimulant, and a chemical debrider." Basically, it helps to exfoliate and stimulate new skin growth.

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)
ALA is unique, as it is soluble in both water and lipids, so it easily penetrates into the skin. It seems to help protects Vitamins E and C, helping to boost their activity within the cell by "reenergizing" them. It is also converted in the skin into another chemical that has it's own antioxidant properties.

Copper Peptides
Copper has long been known to be important in the creation of collagen and elastin (again, important parts of the dermis), both of which are decreased with aging. Copper does have a bit more research than many other topical antioxidants, and some well design (aka- double-blind placebo controlled) research studies have shown improvement in fine wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and decreased photodamage. Copper increases the body's superoxide dismutase levels (see below). They even found a 17.8% improvement in skin thickness! Overall that does sound great, and copper is very appealing to add to products since it is non-irritating and pretty cheap to add to creams.

Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE)
When used topically, DMAE has been found to increase firmness of the skin, likely because it helps to reduce some linking between proteins in the skin that happens with aging, as well as separate antioxidant properties.

Composed of glutamic acid, cysteine, and glycine, this little protein is found in all animal tissues, is one of your body's main antioxidants and is very decreased in the skin after skin exposure. Unfortunately it is water soluble, which means it does not absorb well when taken orally or applied topically. Not available in cosmetic products.

Grape and Grape Seed Extract
Proanthocyanidin, a very powerful antioxidant is found in grapes and grape seed extracts. While this antioxidant doesn't have strong evidence that it works topically (really, most of these things I'm listing don't have much evidence anyways), it was found to have strong effects on free radical damage of fat cells especially, as well as improved wound healing and prevention of tumors (both in mice).

Green and White Tea
Green Tea has some great things in it called polyphenols and they are one of the most widely studied anti-oxidants on earth. Polyphenols are a very large and diverse family. There are literally thousands of them, and they are all found in two. The 4 major ones found in tea have long complicated names, but they are shortened to ECG, GCG, EGCG and EGC. Confused yet? The EGCG is the main polyphenol that is responsible for anti-oxidant activity in both green and white tea and it is the most potent. It is important to know which polyphenols are included in a formulation, and to what concentration. The most effective products will contain 50 to 90% polyphenols and will be brown.

EGCG does offer photoprotection. This has been seen in mice with both oral and topical application, as well as in human skin. It is dose dependent (meaning, more ECGC will result in more effects), resulting in a decrease in redness, sunburned cells and less DNA damage after UV exposure.

Note that most of these studies were done specifically with ECGC as the ingredient. There are thousands of polyphenols in green tea, and most products on the market that contain green or white tea are not of a high enough concentration to demonstrate that they work. Look for ECGC ((-)EpiGalloCatechin-3-O-Gallate) and concentrations over 50%.

This is the synthetic analog of Ubiquinone (Coenzyme Q 10). It weighs less than CoQ10, and therefore has been shown to penetrate the skin more effectively. It has higher anti-oxidant activity than CoQ10, Vitamin E, Kinetic, and Vitamin C in a lot of studies. Currently it is available in Elizabeth Arden's Prevage Line only.

A natural pigment that is responsible for the red pigment we see in tomatoes, pink grapefruit, watermelon and apricots. Due to the chemical composition of Lycopene (something about double bonds) it is a stronger anti-oxidant than beta-carotene or Vitamin E. Increased intake of lycopene has been shown to prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease. Currently there is little information available regarding its use in anti-aging skin care products.

Yup, that stuff you take to help prevent jet lag is an antioxidant! It's released by the brain, and it's able to both act as an antioxidant, increase the activity of other antioxidants and to help decrease redness from sunburn. Oh, and help you reset your internal clock, but I'm not going to go into that!

An alcohol derivative of Vitamin B5, Panthenol is actually a humectant (see, it's here in my moisturizer post), and is very easily found in moisturizer, shampoo, conditioner, etc. Once it's in the skin, it get converted to an acid that is an important cofactor for Coenzyme A, allowing your skin to function normallly. It's pretty stable, but doesn't do well in acidic or basic environments or high heat.

Soy Isoflavones
Only available orally, Genistein and Daidzein help to enhance the antioxidants your body already makes. Mice were fed a solution with these 2 isoflavins, and for weeks afterwards their skin had decreased roughness and improved collagen levels after sun exposure. Does this mean that if you eat soy it will make your skin smoother? Not quickly, but it may help in the long run.

Spin traps
Spin traps are kinda cool, they react with the free radicals to create unreactive free radicals, so they can't cause any damage! I love the Your Best Face products, which feature Spin Traps.

Superoxide Dismutase (SOD)
An enzyme that destroy a very active reactive oxygen species (super oxide), this is a very big enzyme and it has a really hard time penetrating into your skin. This makes it very difficult to use as a topical agent. If it could get there, it would be very useful and would dramatically decrease redness from sunburn as well as the damage from the UV exposure.

Ubiquinone (Coenzyme Q 10)
This one likely sounds very familiar, as it can be found in a huge number of products on the market right now. It's also found in foods like fish and shellfish. CoQ10 is fat soluble and works within the cell's mitochondria (a little energy creating organ found within each cell) to help create energy and it helps to reduce damage of certain proteins even better than vitamin E. CoQ10 levels have been found to decrease with age, one reason that many feel it could be particularly useful for aging skin. It has been found to easily penetrate the skin when applied topically and then to significantly decrease an enzyme that chews up collagen after UVA exposure. Supplementation with CoQ10 has been found to reduce crow's feet, and supplementation will increase levels in the epidermis.

Vitamin A
Vitamin A was the first antioxidant to be used for anti-aging, and it's synthetic derivatives (the retinoids) are even more useful given their stability. Retinoids are the only agents that have been found to be effective against wrinkles in studies and are the gold standard.

Vitamin C
Also known as L-ascorbic acid, Vitamin C is that thing that gives you scurvy if you're deficient. It's water soluble and works in the early stages of production for collagen (it even helps to stimulate collagen production) and a few amino acids. Vitamin C has been found to be low in the skin after sun exposure and applying it topically after sun exposure will specifically combat the ROS brought on by UV exposure. Very few studies on Vitamin C in the setting of photodamage or in humans (rather than in petri dishes) have actually been completed.

Vitamin C is a great candidate for use. Unfortunately, no studies have found increased levels in the skin after oral supplementation, hence so many topical forms on the market. It can be formulated as water soluble or lipid soluble. Unfortunately, most of them can not penetrate the statum corneum (the very outer layer of the epidermis), which makes them expensive products that don't work. You will want a product that is lipid soluble, and that the company claims is "nonionic" or more lipophilic, both of which will help penetrate the skin. If they have some evidence of penetration that would be even better.

Vitamin C is easily degraded by both heat and light, as well as exposure to air. That means most products are inactivated within hours of opening them, therefore all of your money has just been wasted. Only buy Vitamin C preparations that are in air-tight packaging (such as a pump) that protect the product from any UV exposure.

Vitamin E
Alpha-tocopherol is found in membranes and tissues galore, and in fact the term "Vitamin E" actually refers to 8 different molecules that have the same activities (the one labelled "alpha-tocopherol" is the most active form). It is lipophilic, meaning it likes being around fats and cell membranes. It has been found to be the primary lipid-soluble anti-oxidant in the skin, and subsequently has become a very popular choice to help treat skin issues of all sorts. Higher vitamin E levels have been linked to lower risk of infection and cancer in elderly patients that have high blood levels of Vitamin E. Topical and oral Vitamin E has been shown to decrease sunburn damage (swelling, redness and inflammation) and even wrinkling when applied prior to UVB exposure.

So, should you take Vitamin E and apply it to your skin before going out in the sun? Hard to say. Studies have found that by taking a Vitamin E supplement every day you did not have any meaningful photoprotection. Currently many dermatologists feel that it likely needs to be used with other anti-oxidants such as Vitamin C to have an effect. As well, you can have reactions to certain types of Vitamin E (Tocopherol acetate seems to be the worst).

There are important things to remember about antioxidant use to fight aging.
1. It has not been proved clinically, even though it seems logical that antioxidants would help fight signs of aging.
2. Any effects you will see are likely to occur over a long period of time.
3. If you're going to use antioxidants on the skin, the formulation must be stable (meaning the antioxidant doesn't break down and become useless), must be a high enough concentration and must not only get to the target area but must stay there long enough to work.

antioxidants in skin care and aging

I've received samples in the past of some of the products mentioned in this post.

Sunscreen 101: How to Pick The Right One for You and Use it Properly!

Sunscreen, Sunscreens, 101, basics, how to select, pick, correct sunscreen, right sunscreen, use sunscreen correctly, right, sunblock
How to Pick The Right Sunscreen for You and Use it Properly!

With so many sunscreens on the market, it is really hard to select one from all the masses to be "your" sunscreen. There are a lot of factors to take into account such as chemical vs physical ingredients, SPF, UVA protection, formulation, the list goes on and on. Once you've finally decided which product you'll buy, you need to make sure that you are getting your money's worth. Which means correctly applying the product so it can actually do its job.

Sunscreen 101: What are Sunscreens and How Do They Work?

Sunscreen 101, how sunscreens work, and their uv range
Sunscreen 101:  What are Sunscreens and How Do They Work?
As a companion piece to my new weekly Anti-Aging 101 series on Mondays, I've decided to make Tuesdays Sunscreen 101 days. Obviously there is a lot less to talk about with sunscreens in terms of technology, and there aren't the wide array of active ingredients that you'll find with anti-aging products. Which means only a few weeks of "how things work" posts, and then I'll be concentrating fully on Tuesday sunscreen product reviews.

So, most of these posts you've seen before, but I will be updating them a bit. This week I'll go over what sunscreens are and how they work. Next week I'll discuss proper use of sunscreens and how to pick one that works for you. Watch for a new sunscreen review every Tuesday, and perhaps even more often if I have a lot to review.

how do sunscreens work to protect your skin?
So, what's the deal with all the different types of UV radiation? It's all emited by the sun, but that doesn't mean that it affects us. UVC radiation actually never even reaches the earth's surface, it's all filtered out by our atmosphere. So, any UVC exposure we get is all from artificial sources. We're going to chose to ignore the visible spectrum and the infrared (IR) spectrum since we can't protect against it and I'm not even sure if anyone knows much about it's affects on the skin (but, that doesn't mean we should totally ignore it in our real life, that's what sun exposure avoidance is for. I'm just choosing not to talk about it in this post). We're worried about UVA and UVB exposure here.

When sunscreens were first developed they were against UVB rays, since this is what causes the redness we associate with a sun burn. So, what do each of these ranges really do to skin?
• UVB: Skin redness and burning
• UVA: Lowers skin immunity, increasing cancer risk, penetrates to the dermis, contributes to aging via increased skin thickness and increased skin inflammation, tanning of the skin
• Both: Induces DNA damage in skin, increasing cancer risk

What is SPF?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, and yes, a SPF really is multiplied by how long your skin usually takes to burn. So, if you usually take 10 minutes to burn, with well applied SPF 30 that equals 300 minutes. Everything is calculated on delaying the redness of a sunburn.

I recently found another way to think about it on The Skin Cancer Foundation website:
• SPF 15 blocks 93% of all incoming UVB rays
• SPF 30 blocks 97% of all incoming UVB rays
• SPF 50 blocks 99% of all incoming UVB rays

Note that as of my writing this post, there is no accepted international way to test and label products for UVA coverage. In fact, there is no current method of doing this in the US at all (though the FDA has proposed a 4 star rating system, it has not yet been approved). It is up to the consumer to check the label for sunscreens that provide UVA coverage.

How do Sunscreens Work?
There are two main types of sunscreens, physical and chemical.

• Physical: These sunscreens really work by blocking the light from ever reaching your skin. The light is reflected or scattered away from the skin. These ingredients are less likely to irritate skin or create an allergic reaction. However, they tend to create a white cast on the skin, contribute to a product having that "sunscreen" feeling, and they can stain clothing.

• Chemical: These sunscreens absorb UV radiation rather than reflecting it away from skin. To do this, the energy of the light has to go somewhere, or do something. Depending on the ingredient, the light can be used in a chemical reaction, can slightly alter the chemical structure of the sunscreen itself, be given off as heat (I'm not sure that any sunscreens approved in the US actually do this), or be released as a longer UV wavelength. While these chemicals don't feel as heavy as their physical sunscreen counterparts and can cover a wide range of UV wavelengths, they also have their drawbacks.

Chemical sunscreens can be unstable in certain combinations or with prolonged sun exposure (hence we docs tell you to reapply often). They are implicated more often in skin irritation and allergic reactions. And they can even be absorbed into the skin, and picked up in your urine (This is true, I had no idea this was the case until I was revising this post and found it in a cosmetic dermatology text book. I was taught in my general pediatrics training to tell parents to use only physical sunscreens on their infants/toddlers, my guess is that this is the reason. I'd avoid them if you are pregnant as well.)

A Word on Photostability
There's a lot of discussion about photostability if you head to on-line makeup and skin care forums. I'm a long-time member of one such forum, and it amazes me when the members there dismiss certain products because "we all know that those ingredients aren't stable together." I've seen some members contradict their edicts a few months later, with statements about how Octinoxitate should be (and then should not be) used in combination with certain other ingredients to improve photostability. I have no idea where they get this information, because it certainly isn't in the published medical literature for every product.

Remember back in the chemical sunscreen discussion when I explained that with prolonged sun exposure the chemical sunscreen ingredients may breakdown and no longer protect skin. The photostability of a sunscreen product is altered by the combination of sunscreens used, the solvents used in the product and the vehicle used in the product (which is different than the solvent). So, there are a lot of factors.

While we can make some overall statements about photostability based upon combinations of sunscreens (such as the fact that Helioplex is a more stable version of avobenzone), it is virtually impossible to know how photostable a product is unless you are a developer or have tested the product in a lab. I for one would love there to be a rating system for photostability that would appear on the product just like the SPF and a UVA filter rating. Until this happens, I would ignore information about photostability found on-line unless you've obtained it directly from the manufacturer.

Next week I'll discuss different formulations of sunscreen (spray vs gel vs powder), deciding which formulation is right for you and the proper use of sunscreens.

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