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Sun's Out, Bum's Out ... Choose Your Sunscreen Wisely

April 27,  2022

We all know that sunscreen (for both face & body) is an essential. While we are all about sunscreen everyday, yes even in the winter, yes even when it's raining ... now that spring is upon us, that means longer days and more exposure to the sun. Long summer days with outdoor fun and pool & beach activities are just months away. We have been asked, how to properly choose a sunscreen?! Together with world-renowned dermatologist, Dr. Jeffrey Hsu, we are going to give you the 411 to choosing your sunscreen this season.

When purchasing a sunscreen, the most basic criteria is that it needs to be "broad spectrum", meaning the sunscreen protects the skin from both UVA and UVB rays. The active ingredients listed should contain only titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide. Dr. Hsu also highly recommends that for children and babies as well. Having these ingredients means the sunscreen is a physical sunscreen, versus a chemical sunscreen. A physical sunscreen stays on the surface of the skin to provide blockage from harmful rays whereas chemical sunscreens are rapidly absorbed by the skin and possibly into the bloodstream. A chemical sunscreen, when penetrated into the skin, may disrupt the body's endocrine system. It is important to note that most physical sunscreen do tend to leave a white film on the skin at first, it really only takes an extra second to rub it in, for the white to disappear. So don't be discouraged that the formulations of these physical sunscreens 

may not be as elegant as the chemical sunscreens we may be so used to.

Dr. Hsu also stresses that when choosing a sunscreen, we should avoid any those with oxybenzone as an ingredient. Studies have shown this ingredient to possibly have hormone altering effects. Furthermore, ingredients such as fragrances, dyes, parabens, PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid), propylene glycol and phthalates can present as irritants especially those with sensitive skin or have skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema.

In recent years, there has been numerous spray-on sunscreens on the market. They are well loved for its convenience. However, they should be avoided. Spray-on sunscreens are hard to gage if it is going on the skin evenly. There is also a concern that the sunscreen can be inhaled, posing as a health hazard.

In the event of a sunburn, apply cool compresses or bathe in cool water to ease the heat on the skin. Once the skin is cooled, keep skin moisturized with aloe vera and or other alcohol free moisturizers. Be sure to reapply daily until sunburn dissipates. Sunburns can be uncomfortable and painful. A dose of acetaminophen can help relieve any associated pain. If the sunburn causes blisters or fevers, that is when you should seek a dermatologist.

Here are some of our favorite sunscreens that we often recommend our in-clinic anti-aging patients to use: SkinBetter Science makes a collection of physical sunscreens that doubles as primer. Whether you are a fan of tinted (you can layer as tinted moisturizer) or clear, they have it. They even have it in a form of a thin compact for easy reapplication. There is just no excuses for not wearing sunscreens properly with SkinBetter. Backed by ample science and technology, their sunscreens are on top of our list. Another of our patient favorites is Alastin Hydratint. Much like SkinBetter, it can double as a primer under make-up or layered for a foundation effect. It's flattering universal tone, sure pleases the crowd. What patients love about this is that it gives a slight glow, a dewy finish for that natural summer look. Lastly, this sunscreen by ISDIN is for all those that all sun-worshippers must have. It is the only sunscreen on the market that has a technology where not only is it protecting your skin, but it also repairs damaged skin cells. Skin calls that are damaged from the sun have the potential to turn into skin cancer. Dr. Hsu puts all his skin cancer patients on this sunscreen. 

And for those do go into the sun, while you may be religious about your sunscreen, but Dr. Hsu cautions that a yearly skin check is still essential. Skin cancers are one of the most common cancers. 1 of 7 Americans will have skin cancer at some point in the life. Skin cancers can be hard to identify yourself and can be fatal. 

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