Posts Tagged ‘UV protection’

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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I’m thinking of producing a tee shirt that reads: ” Up to age 60, 90% of skin aging is due to sun damage”.  Seriously, its that important.

Effective sun protection  creams and lotions are the only non-prescription product that the FDA allows to make anti-aging claims.  But buying a powerful  yet effective  sunscreen can be daunting.  Go into any pharmacy and you’re met with a long  wall of options.  Waterproof?  Oil-free?  Broad spectrum, Fragrance-free?  I covered this material  before in a series of Sunscreen  Cheat Sheets, but once you have picked the right formula, then you want to  get the best possible price.  Remember you need to  use sun protection each and every day and you need to use it fairly generously.   If you’re not using up  a 3 ounce bottle in three months, you’re not applying enough.  Designer  sunscreens from Peter Thomas Roth and Shiseido  are beautiful products  that are at least 3X the cost of drugstore brands.   It wil cost you $120-140 per year for just this one product.  We can do better.

Here are five  of my favorite affordable facial sunscreens.   Products that are meant to be used for the body  will tend to discolor make-up that is applied over it.  Facial sunscreens  are formulated to accept  layers of makeup without turning them dark or orangey.

1.  Aveeno Active Naturals Positively Radiant SPF 30 ($19)

A light  but broadspectrum moisturizing formulation that is beautiful for drier skins.  It also contains soy complex which is known to reduce melanin production.  This lightly scented sun screen  both prevents aging sun damage  and increased  dark patches.

2.Neutrogena Clear Face ( Break-out Free) SPF30($ 12.99)

This oil-free  lotion  contains Heli0plex, the uber strong broad spectrum sunscreen.   This is  an excellent choice for oily/acne prone complexions.

3. Coppertone Sensitive Skin Faces SPF50 $12.99

This super effective fragrance-free broad spectrum sunscreen is also water resistant.   It has both chemical and physical sunscreens for better protection with less irritation.

4. Neutrogena Sensitive Skin SPF 30 $10.99

This may be the best choice for truely sensitive skin as well as skin that  has just been treated with lasers, IPL or even Retin A.    This product contains only  titanium oxide  yet delivers a full 30SPF.  I always have a fresh bottle  of this sunscreen in  my beauty tool kit.

5. Susan Posnick Brush-On Block 30SPF( $25.00)

An innovative brush on sunscreen delivers a totally gentle broad spectrum 30 SPF.  When my skin seemed to be overreacting  to everything but water,  Brush on Block was the only sunscreen I could use.  Now that my skin has calmed down, I still use it  everyday to reapply  sunscreen protection.  It comes in a translucent shade that works  for  most skin tones. Its available online at Susan Posnick.

One final thought:  Most sunscreens are too irritating to use  in the delicate eye area.  Not only does the sun cause wrinkling, it  promotes dark circles.  To  protect the eyes, use sunscreen fortified concealers and   I reviewed   my five favorites in the current issue of the No-Nonsense Beauty Newsletter. You can subscribe to this quarterly online  newsletter  in the right hand column of this page.

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This week the host of Fashion Flash  is Shawna of Female Fat Loss Over 40.  And if  there is a time  of year when we really need Shawna it’s during the Christmas holidays. Seriously, it seems that every  holiday activity has its own  high calorie food.  We  fill up stockings with sweets, tie  candy canes on presents and  warm up after ice skating with hot chocolate.  And then  there are goodies in Christmas songs and stories–  the plum pudding in A Christmas Carol,   the dancing sugarplums in the Nutcracker, and  of course there is that  runaway gingerbread man.   And unfortunately, there are no traditional Christmas exercise  and nutrition programs– until now that is.  This week Shawna  has  focused on  tips to stay in shape in times when the  only non-fattening thing on the table  seems to be   a glass of water.

And when you’ve  clicked through Shawna and the rest of the timely Fashion Flash posts ,  take a moment to check out my first n0-nonsense video– “The Truth About Sunscreens”.Friends and family who  are heading south for the holidays  had asked me  for a sunscreen cheat  sheet.  Rather than   download  a sheaf of  posts on sun and aging, I  made this video.

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Darkened areas  on the cheeks, dark circles under the eyes, age spots, and  hyperpigmentation  are all basically  the same problem– excess melanin production in the skin.  It  can happen at any age, but as  we grow older  it becomes more of a problem.  While we often focus on lines and wrinkles as signs of aging, clearing  brown spots and splotches  can erase years from your skin. 

While there seems to be a boatload of options, there are basically two different approaches:

1.  Products that inhibit the skin cells from producting melanin.

2.  Procedures that actually remove darkened skin.

One of the  most powerful tools against hyperpigmentation  has been hydroquinone, but  many doctors use it cautiously.   There were reports of increased pigmentation and  allergic reactions  with hydroquinone and  but according to Dr Wendy Roberts  these problems were often due to contamination of hydroquinone products. Doctors found that it was the addtion of mercury to the hydroquinone in unregulated products from Asia and Mexico that was causing the problems.  Mercury is banned in the United States and is never part of skin lightening products made in the US. 

If you still feel uncomfortable about hydroquinone,   there is a  buffet  of new ingredients including azaleic acid, licorice and vitamin C  that have been demonstarted  some ability to remove pigmentation, but not as effectively as  hydroquinone.  However when the two or even three  are combined they can work better than when  used separately and  with  lower risk of side effects.

Lasers of different sorts  have been used to treat hyperpigmentation and  one of the best new  is intermitment  pulsed light or IPL.  This type of light literally explodes freckles and without affecting  normal  skin color.  Dr  Marmur treated my BFF Judith with IPL and the before and after pix  are impressive.

Often the best treatment plan is a combination of therapies.  A camera shy friend,  used IPL to remove post pregnancy  dark  patches near  her hairline and  made sure they stayed away with  a vitamin C  serum at night  to discourage melanin production.  I used a YAG lser  for my bigger lumpy sun spots,  nightly treatment with Retin A to gradually fade small freckles and IPL to even off  skin  color.   You can seem my results in the photo album on my facebook pages.  Just  click the Facebook button.

Curent wisdom seems to be that  there is no one single silver  bullet for unwanted pigmentation.  Best results usually  occur  when  different  products and tools are used in combintion.  And remember, whatever  you do, you must be diligent  using sunscreen every day.  Even a single sunny day can provoke their return.  I know this the hard way.

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I recently went to the summer meeting of the Americn Academy of Dermatology in NYC.   There were  a number of new areas of research on the horizon, but frankly at my age, I am looking  for new anti-aging tools I can use right now.  And I got  just that type of  info at presentation on skin  of color by Dr Wendy Roberts of Loma Linda University. 

Most of Dr Roberts presentation  focused on the pros and cons  of different types of lightening agensts– all good info that I will be using to answer  related questions on an upcoming Question and Answer post.  But the BIG IDEA   came up when Dr Roberts   addressed ways to prevent pigmentation.  The audience of mostly female derms  shared their  concerns that patients were just  not  using and or not reapplying their sunscreens.  Dr Roberts suggested  adding mineral based cosmetics  to increase sun protection.  Although  they often offer a 10-15SPF,  women are more likely to reapply a mineral based bronzer or blusher during the day than  a traditional gooey white sun block.  So true!  I now put on my moisturizer/sunblock as  routinely as I brush my teeth or smooth on lipstick.  But once I’ve put on my make-up , I’m not going to add more sunscreen  over my foundation and blush. Its just not going to happen.

Mineral make-ups  contain healthy amounts  of zinc oxides ot titanium oxides– the same ingredients that are used  many traditional sunscreens.  They are also the ingredient of choice when a product is formulated for sensitive or laser-treated skin. There are a number of mineral based product lines but the derms at this meeting  suggested that I visit the Jane Iredale booth in the AAD  exhibit hall.  Good call.   This extensive  fragrance- free  includes foundations, concealers, lip sticks, and blushers,   all formulated with a  20 SPF.   In addition to providing  sun protection they are designed to elegantly hide undereye circles, redness and dark patches.   They are so effective that three products  have been recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation.   In short  not only do  they hide dings and dots, they protect the skin from further sun damage. 

Jane Iredale is available from  physicians, sold at some Saks and Nordstroms and on line t www.janeiredale.com.

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I tend to distrust new guidelines.  They are often painfully bureaucratic and tend to makes  things less understandable and  more expensive–eg food pyramid to food plate  But these new FDA sunscreen guidelines  make good sense. Whoever came up with these revisions, decided to focus on five important areas:

1.  The term “Broad Spectrum”-  this means that the sunscreen   protects against against both UVA rays ( which cause skin aging) and UV B rays ( which produce tanning)– and both cause skin cancer.  Currently there are no guidelines as to what this has to mean for a product.  The new guidelines  requires thatfor a sunscreen to be broad spectrum it must  contain agents that provide  protection against both types of rays and to state that degree of protection on the label.  So you might see a label that says SPF15 for UVA and 20SPF for UVB.  I thinks its more likely that the manufacturers will provide equal protection against both rays. 

2.   Sunscreens will now have to  provide  at least a 15 SPF in order to make sun protection claims.

3. A suncreen cannot  have more than a 50SPFplus  since  these  higher numbers   may not offer more protection and can give consumers a misleading sense of security  in the sun.

4.  Suncreens can no longer claim they are water resistant, sweat-proof and waterproof without studies that demonstrate its effectiveness.  ( and I had thought they had already had done that)

5.  Products can no longer call themselves sunblocks because  it can convey  a too strong sense of protection.

Keep in mind that these regulations won’t  go into effect for 12 months.  I don’t think that the upcoming regulations will effect what  you are currently using.  However it has made me more aware that I need to try to use more sunscreen and apply more frequently.  In the morning I apply sunscreen on  face, hands and neck.   I also  now carry a small tube of  Cetaphil UVA/UVB Defense SPF50 in my purse. Its oil and fragrance free and I slather  it again on my neck and hands  sometime during  the day.

I’m probably not the poster child for sun protection, but I am certainly more mindful in my daily useage.  How often do you reapply sunscreen?  Do you  reapply  it  to your face and then redo make-up?

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