Summer + Sun = Sunscreen

Summer is quickly approaching; it’s time to get out your flip-flops, the grill, the kiddy pool and most importantly the sun screen!  Choosing the right sun protection can be a daunting task considering the vast selection, complicated ingredients and the media influence.

There are two types of ultraviolet rays, UVA and UVB.  Both rays contribute to photo aging (i.e. wrinkles, sagging, rough skin, brown spots) and in the development of skin cancers, therefore both rays need to be blocked.  You will need to look for a broad spectrum physical blocker or a combination of physical and chemical filters to span the UVA/UVB spectrum.

The physical components of sunscreen used in the United States are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.  Now, these are no longer your “Baywatch,” thick, white pastes used in the 1980s.  Both products can now come as micronized particles which will be transparent when applied to the skin.  Our new favorite in this category is Skinceuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50.  This ultra-light tinted formulation goes on in a sheer fluid that dries quickly and perfectly blends into any skin color and type.  This product contains both micronized zinc and titanium dioxide to span the full UVA/UVB spectrum alone without using any chemical filters.

The chemical components of sunscreen have taken a hit over the past few years by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).  Their concern is regarding the possible free-radical-generating properties and estrogenic actions of some components.  There is, however, no good evidence that topical use of sunscreens is toxic to humans.  Many of our favorite sunscreens contain chemical components and when used as directed, pose no risk.

What does that SPF mean anyway?  Sun Protection Factor is an indication of a sunscreen’s effectiveness at preventing sunburn related to the length of time in the sun.  It only accounts for UVB rays.  An SPF of 100 blocks 99% of the UVB rays, SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays, SPF 35 blocks 96-97% of UVB rays, SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays and SPF 2 blocks 50% of UVB rays.  What do we learn from this?  SPF 15 or higher should be used on a daily basis and an SPF higher than 50 does not provide very much extra protection.

In recent years we are also starting to understand the importance of antioxidants in the protection against photoaging.  UV rays create free-radicals which cause damage, but, luckily antioxidants can neutralize them and can provide repairative effects.  To get the best possible protection for your skin, you should incorporate a serum antioxidant into your skin care regime every morning.  Skinceuticals makes two highly acclaimed products for just this purpose, CE Ferulic and Phloretin CF.  Your provider will be able to help you choose which product is right for you based on your skin type.

Other things to remember about sunscreens:

*  Sunscreens are not meant for children under 6 months of age.

*  Sun can be reflected by water, snow, pavement and sand.

*  70% of UVA rays can penetrate through clouds and fog.  Therefore, daily use is needed…even here in Seattle!

*  Get your vitamin D safely by taking a supplement.  Discuss the proper dose for you with your healthcare provider.

*  And, by all means- avoid tanning beds!

Other news around the office

For Your Eyes Only—Reserve your spot with Dr. Reichel or Dr. Jacobson July 14th & 19th for an amazing “Eyes Only” cosmetics package.  Receive 1 kit of Latisse, 25 units of Botox, and an Obagi or Skinceuticals Eye Serum, all for a Special Package Price!  Limited spots available, call now to secure yours, 206.859.5777.

In the Month of May, we participated in the ASDS skin cancer screening program partnered with Neutrogena’s “Choose Skin Health” campaign.  We had a very positive response with patient screenings and education on skin cancer awareness.

Kelly Stevens and Andrea English, our physician assistants are staying busy doing many skin cancer screening exams.  As you shed your winter layers and see more of your skin, be sure to do a self-exam to look for new or unusual moles or spots on your skin.  Kelly and Andrea will be happy to give those spots a professional look and check all of your hard to see places.  Call our office at 206-859-5777 to make your appointment for a full skin cancer screening exam today.

Sunscreen reference:

Samuals, L.  The Truth About Sunscreen and Effective Patient Education.  Practical Dermatology 2011 Mar; 8(3): 27-32.

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