Posts Tagged ‘SPF30’

older and younger womenWhen I started  No-Nonsense Beauty Blog I expected  that most of the people who would be  would  be like me and over 40– way over 40.  I was  pretty surprised  when site analytics  showed that over 30%  of  No-Nonsense visitors were in their 20’s and 50% were under 40.  In fact   the majority of comments and questions  were sent in from smart resourceful  thirtysomething women. Its human  nature to  avoid issues  until they on top of us, but these bright young women are asking all the right questions  years before they  actually have to face them in the mirror. 

Different Answers for Different  Aging

Like everything else  in the body, skin changes naturally over time and its not surprising that anti-aging skin care differs over time.  Under  age 30 our skin is rich in estrogen and natural hydration.  The challenge is not to mess it up.   To prevent aging, women often use overly rich cleansers and night creams which  can provoke the reappearance  of teenage style acne.   Called acne cosmetica, its the trigger in over half of   adult acne problems.  Not only  are breakouts   just not necessary, acne scars  tend to become lines and wrinkles as  we get older.

Rather than drowning still  youthful skin in   heavy anti-aging products ,  good skin care starts with gentle  but through cleansing,  and regular exfolitation with microdermabrasion brush.  At night  use an oil free   glycolic acid or lactic acid lotion.  These ingredients  are like a baby step Retin A.  They shed dead dry skin, hydrate the surface and encourage  collagen and elastin growth. 

Its during the day that  thirtysomethings can take major  steps  to prevent aging. Up to age 60,  between 80-90% of skin aging is due to UV damage– but  using  effective sun protection  will short circuit environmental aging. 

After age 40, the good times and bad leave their mark on your  face. Sun filled vacation days  reappear years later as dark patches, red spots  and crows feet around the eyes. Work and family stress show-up as deepening  lines on  the  forehead  and along the sides of the mouth and chin. That’s the bad news.  The good news?  All of the signs of living can be reversed. But before buying a buffet of creams and serums with  a boatload of anti-aging claims, think about what you skin actually needs.    Before you  swipe your credit card at a store  or make an appointment at a doctor, identify what your skin issues.  Brown spots  and splotches?   IPL, Clear and Brilliant  and Fraxel lasers are different ytpes of lasers that quickly zap discolorations.  Lines around the eyes?  Botox will erase them in moments. Dull pale skin color and fine lines? Retin A will deal with both by reving up  circulation and  boosting   healthy collagen.  And when you’ve done with all the heavy lifting repairs, be sure to protect your investment  with a 30-50SPF sunscreen  to prevent new  UV damage.


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Q&A logoQuestion:   How much SPF do I need to use  in the summer?  My favorite  foundation has  a 15SPF which I know is pretty low.  If I  also use a moisturizer with a 15SPF  will  that bring my protection to a 30 SPF?

Answer:  You’re righ,t a 15 SPF  is pretty low, but adding  another product with a 15 SPF will not give you a 30SPF.  Its not fair but the math on sunscren products  are not cumulative.  Your final SPF  will only be the  highest SPF you are using.  In this case, the final SPF  will still be 15.  If you use a moisturizer with a 30SPF  you final SPF will  be able  to face  the sun with a  very respectable 30 SPF.

Please  keep in mind that  the SPF numbers  are just an indication of how long you can stay in the sun without burning.   A 30 SPF means that you can stay in the sun  for 30 minutes without sundamage.  However these calculations were done in the laboratory and  made on the assumption that   at least  two teaspoons of sunblock  is  used on the face and  1-2 tablespoons are used on the body. I decided to put these  standards to the test and the results were both funny and troubling.  Clearly  few if anyone actually  use  the prescribed amount of sunblock  and   we often fail to reapply  during the day.  This means that   the SPF which we  have to  face the sun is much lower than  we think.  For that reason I recommend using at least an SF30 and in the summer aim for a 50 SPF.  During the day I dust on a mineral sunscreen powder like Brush On Block by Susan Posnick.  I can apply it over foundation  to  boost  sun protection.

One final thought.  If you have sensitive skin, rosacea, psoriasis you might find  chemical sunscreens too irritating.   Look for broad spectrum physical sunscreens that get their  sun block powers from minerals like  zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

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layer cakeI just spent   four days at three different   beauty conferences.   There were probably over 100 vendors with  lines of at least twenty products each.  So  many products, only one small face.   At many of the counters,   I was urged to use  4-5 products at a time, each one promising   different benefits.  

But the skin is not like a layer cake with each new layer adding  more and better flavors.   The reason  that  the body is covered with skin is to protect the internal structures  like the  heart, muscles and  brain.  It is designed  to keep stuff out, including  dirt, bacteria, mold, insects and toxic chemicals.  Indeed  when the integrity of the skin is broken from a cut or burn, we all know its important to clean the wound  and cover it to prevent infection.  Its very difficult for most ingredients  to pass thru the upper layers of the skin and  arrive at the growing, lower  levels.  Applying  any product, be it  a  lotion, serum or moisturizer, makes it  much much more difficult for the next product  to  pass through the skin layers to get to the area where is can actuallydeliver results.   

So What’s Girl Have  To Do to Look Good?   

Different ingredients offer different benefits. For example  antioxidants  protect  skin  structures from UV damage while hyaluronic acid  is an uber moisturizer that draws and hold  water in the skin.  To get  as  many benefits as possible you have two options:

1. Combination  products

Rather than using a serum with antioxidants, a moisturizer with hyaluronic acid and a sunscreen with zinc oxide,  look for a product that contains all three.  Mixing the molecules  together in one  product  gives all ingredients equal access to your skin.  Even better, it’s  a great  way of stretching your  beauty budget.

2.   Alternate Skin Care

I’m often asked how  to use Retin A, a moisturizer, a sunblock, and an antioxidant serum.    Short answer, not all at the same time.   For example, at night you can use Retin A and a moisturizer on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturday and Sunday.  On Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights  use the antioxidant serum topped by the moisturizer, and skip the Retin A.  This alterrnative application will allow  even sensitive skin to use a  full strength Retin A .  In the morning use a moisturizer with sunscreen under  your make-up.   To make things even easier  you can use  a BB or CC  cream which offers a  combination of hydration,   antiaging ingredients, sun protection  AND foundation.  You can get  the benefits of four products at the price of a  single  item.  Cool.

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medicine cabinetWhen a product delivers  for me I tend  to stay with it until its discontinued.   While loyalty is admirable, its better to understand that skin  needs can change  and so should our  products.  Here are six new favorites to bring my basic tool  box to 20 I can’t live without products.

1. Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash ($8.00)

When my skin developed strange red splotches and spots, I needed to crank up my skin cleaning routinue.  This 2.5% salicylic gel  leaves my skin clean, but not tight.  If my skin feels especially oily, I spurt a dab of  this gel on my Clarisonic brush head  and buff away.

2. SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 ( $32)

With my newly irritable skin I could no longer use my favorite  sun screens.  Every thing I tried  provoked breakouts.  At one point my  only option seemed a big hat  in summer and a ski mask in winter.  When I interviewed laser expert Dr  Tina Alster on post- laser  care, she urged me to try  this zinc based sunblock.  It is as good as promised.  On my skin it looks like a nicely formulated foundation, gives me a 50 SPF and never, ever causes  spots and splotches.  Great call.

3.  Susan Posnick Brush-On Block ($30)

I top my sunblock with a bronzer and blush so after two hours I’m not going to wash off my face and reapply a liquid sunscreen.  Enter Brush On Block SPF30.  This tinted zinc sunblock powder is packaged in a brush topped tube that floats on so easily  I don’t even need a mirror to apply it.  In summer, I can  just  pull it out  of my bag and brush it on as I walk down a sunny street.

4. Jane Iredale Corrective Colors ( $24)

You know a product is a keeper when you go out to buy another one when you see  its running out.  This defines my relationship to Color Correctives.   Many concealers do a nice job dealing with problem areas ( ie under eye circles), but Color Correctives  seem to last  all day. 

5. Neutrogena On-The-Spot Acne Treatment ( $6.00)

This small tube delivers 2.5% of benzoyl peroxide acne  fighting power.  Benzoyl peroxide blocks the breakout process by  killing the bacteria in the pores that   can trigger breakouts.  Used with the  Neutrogena salicylic acid  fortified  cleanser, it attacks acne on two fronts.  Salicylic acid  strips away the skin that is blocking the pores and the benzoyl peroxide deals with the acne provoking bacteria.  Its like the Batman and Robin of acne care.

6. Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs ($ 12)

During the dead of winter, I don’t even think about the skin  on my legs.  Hidden by boots, tights or pants,  my legs are   on their own.  But with  skirt and dress weather  just around the corner,  I know I will be dealing with  ghostly  white legs that don’t even match the rest of my skin.  Given what I  now  know about skin cancer and melanoma, toasting my  legs in a tanning booth is out of the question.  After  many self tanning failures that left my legs splotchy  and my bathroom a mess, I discovered  Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs.  Its  quick, inexpensive and  works beautifully.  I used to use it just in winter, but now that  fashion  has turned its back on pantie hose, I spray it on all year round.

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ingredientsI recently  got an email which chided me for being too negative about too many cosmetic ingredients.   ” If you  don’t  like vitamin E, peptides,  and seaweed, what do you think is worthwhile” she challenged me.

Fair enough.   Truth is  there are  ten ingredients that I love because they truely deliver as promised.  Some are for acne, others for anti-aging and a few for sun proection.  Best of al,l only one needs a perscription.  I also relish the fact that in many of  them, the FDA requires that their concentration by percentage must be listed on the label– so you can see  at a glance  if  it has  what your skin needs.

1.  Glycolic Acid

Derived from sugarcane, glycolic acid is considered the  most effective  form of alpha hydroxy acid.  In a cleanser, toner,moisturizer or mask, glycolic acid takes off dead dry  skin cells, increases cell renewal and stimulates  collagen production.  Its useful for oily skin,  acne prone skin and as an anti-aging tool.  But to be effective most glycolic acid  products need  to have at least 8%  glycolic acid in the formulation.

2. Ceramides

The cells of the top layer of the skin are held together by ceramides, a kind of fatty substance that acts like glue to keep cells in a healthy ordered pattern.   Even better, ceramides are equally important at holding  water molecules in the skin.  Ceramides like so many factors, decline in the body as we get older.  A ceramide moisturizer  definately levels the  playing field. 

3. Vitamin C

Anti-aging properties have been attached to  many vitamins, but vitamin C is the one that has the science to back up  the claims.  Vitamin C ( AKA ascorbic acid) is essential for the growth of  healthy collagen.  In fact  the National Health and Nutrition study of 17,000 Americans found that  those with diets highest in vitamin C had the youngest looking skin and fewest wrinkles.  Even better, vitamin C is one of the few ingredients  that is truely helpful inside and out.  But and its a big but, vitamin C is extremely fragile and not effective in many formulations.  Exposure to light, heat, and moisture quickly  degrade  vitamin C   and steal its anti-aging properties.   When you buy vitamin C serum, make sure its packaged in a dark brown or green glass vial  with at least 5% concentration. 

4. Benzoyl Peroxide

 This skin care work horse is a tried and true acne buster that packs a one-two punch. It  can take off the top layer of dead dry  skin cells that are clogging pores and stale oil that is blocking the pores and  kills the bacterria in the skin that trigger breakouts.  Until recently the FDA alllowed a maximum of 2.5% in over the counter acne preparations.  Now this limit has been lifted and its possible to purchase formulations the have up to 10% benzoyl peroxide. 

But benzoyl peroxide  can be very irritating and its best to start with lower  concentrations, and if well tolorated work  up to stronger formulas.  Like Retin A,  you should wait 10-30 minutes  after washing  your face before applying benzoyl peroxide.  Limit use of alcohol  based toners and glycolic acid products when starting with benzoyl peroxide.   Because it can increase sun sensitivity, always top benzoyl peroxide treated skin with at least a 30SPF  sunscreen.

5.  Zinc Oxide

Zince oxide is a white mineral that has been used for skin care since the time of the Greeks.  Over the centuries, it has been useful for ointments, baby powder, dandruff shampoos and  is  the primary ingredient in calamine lotion.   Currently, zinc oxide ( and its  cousin titanium dioxide) are  the dermatologists favorite sunscreen ingredient.  They are called physical sunscreens because they literally physically  block the rays of the sun.  Zinc oxide  sits on the  skin surface and shields the skin from both UV A and UVB says.  Because they are not absorbed by the skin, physical sunscreens are less irritating and less likely to provoke breakouts.   This means that zinc oxide sunscreens are the best option for sensitive and acne prone  skin.   Look for products that contain  at least 5% zinc oxide ot titanium oxide.

Next week– The final five ingredients  and  a list of  the affordable products that feature them.

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Over the past few weeks, I’ve  posted my lists for recommended affordable  anti-aging products covering cleansers,  treatments, exfoliators, moisturizers and sun protection.   Now comes the fun  part- how to use them.

The Theory Behind the Practice

When you strip away all the inflated promises and pseudo science, great skin care  has four key goals:

* take off the top layer of dry dead skin cells

* stimulate growth of collagen

* help the skin  maintain a healthy water balance

* protect against UV rays


In the morning you want to clean the face gently and protect it from the sun.

* On Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday use your basic mild soap or cleanser.  Wet the face first and work  up a lather on  your skn.  Rinse off with lukewarm water.  Too hot or too cold and you can  damage blood vesses that will lead to redness.

* On Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday  clean your mornig face with the exfoliator of your choice.

* Everyday  apply a  sunscreen that has  at least a 30 SPF

Bed time:

At night you want to clean off the days oil and grime and prepare the skin for a  night of treatment.

On Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday  use mild exfoliation ( eg Clarisonic) to clean the skin.   Dry the skin, wait 10 minutes and apply lotion with glycolic acid.  On Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday use basic cleanser and blot dry.   Dab on homemade vitamin C serum.  If the skin feels  tight apply  a recommended moisturizer.

These types of products and this alternating routinue will deliver  a world class  anti-aging skin care routinue at  rock bottom prices.   I estimate that  this  plan will be about $300/year or about a dollar a day.  I save so much  on using effective but affordable products that I can  budget in  a yearly IPL or some Botox  to enhance the benefits of a good daily skin care.  I’d love to hear  about   your favorite drugstore  products.  Most of my favorites  have  come to  me through recommendations of friends.

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