Skin Beautiful Dermaceuticals

Suncreen Isn’t Just for Summer!

Sun protection is one of the single most important things you can do to prevent and even reverse photo-aging of the skin. Some studies show that as much as 80% of what we refer to as “skin aging” is actually photoaging due to cumulative sun exposure, and is not due to the intrinsic, or chronological, aging process. Some people mistakenly believe that they can escape photoaging (and even skin cancer) by simply avoiding the beach, but, in fact, repeated daily incidental exposure may actually account for as much as 80% of a person’s total lifetime UV exposure! And an estimated 2 in every 5 Americans who reaches the age of 65 will develop skin cancer sometime in their lives.

The UV Spectrum
UVC wavelengths are the shortest ultraviolet rays, extending from 100nm to 290nm, and are the most carcinogenic. While the sun generates ultraviolet C, the atmospheric ozone layer screens out virtually all UVC from reaching us. However, Ultraviolet C may become increasingly problematic for those living at high altitudes. If the depletion of the ozone layer through pollution continues, the consequences will be life-threatening on a large-scale.

UVB is the intermediate wavelength of Ultraviolet rays, and causes the initial appearance of redness, commonly called ‘sunburn. The current SPF rating system addresses only this specific wavelength. UVB primarily damages the outer most layer of the skin, the epidermis, as well as the upper dermis. The result is skin redness and thickening of the the stratum corneum, (our body’s attempt to reduce UVB impact on the epidermis), as well as a loss of collagen and elastin and changes in pigment. This type of damage is cumulative, potentially resulting not only in photoaging, but basal cell and squamous cell cancers. UVB rays are strongest between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

UVA (320nm – 400nm) wavelength is the deeper penetrating wavelength. The longer UVA wavelengths were once thought of as essentially harmless, but scientific evidence now indicates that this is not true, and that UVA rays actually penetrate deep into the dermis, where they cause significant damage and skin changes such as dryness, uneven pigmentation, both fine and deep wrinkles, sagging skin, and even skin cancer. UVA adversely affects the deep dermis far more than the more superficial damage caused by UVB rays, resulting in a significant loss of the skin’s supportive collagen and elastin. This UVA tissue damage is cumulative and studies to date support the relationship of such UV exposure to the development of basal and squamous cell cancers, as well as pre-cancerous lesions. Recently, it has been reported that depletion of Vitamin A in the skin by UVA exposure may contribute to both photo aging and cancers of the skin.

Significantly, unlike the shorter UVB (290-320nm) wavelengths, UVA easily penetrates window glass. And unlike UVB rays, UVA rays remain fairly constant throughout the day and even from season to season. Since even a low dose of UVA can penetrate to the underlying dermis, this means it is important to stay protected year round.

The SPF rating system does not accurately define a sunscreen’s protective capabilities from any other harmful ultraviolet radiation except the UVB wavelength. Thus, when evaluating sunscreens, it is critical to determine the PPD rating as well. PPD is the rating used to determine a sunscreen’s UVA rays capabilities. Basically, PPD is to UVA rays what SPF is to UVB rays. Thus, a good sunscreen should provide a PPD of at least 10, which would block about 90% of the UVA rays from your skin. Those with pigment problems or photosenstive conditions should choose sunscreens with even higher PPD ratings if possible.

Choosing an Effective Sunscreen
Remember that “broad spectrum” is a basically meaningless term because it does not tell you much of the UVA rays are actually being blocked. Similarly, the SPF rating system does not predict the ability of sunscreens to block UVA wavelengths. In order to protect yourself from UVA rays, it is necessary to look to the PPD or UVA rating of a sunscreen. This will only be found on European (and some Canadian) sunscreens. Skin Beautiful Dermaceuticals only carries European sunscreens with the highest UVA and PPD protection available thanks to patented sunscreen filters like Tinosorb. Also, the European sunscreens we carry which contain avobenzone have been properly stablized. Avobenzone is highly unstable and many U.S. sunscreens are not photostable, unfortunately. In general, octocrylene is the only ingredient which will significantly stablize avobenzone, yet most U.S. sunscreens continue to combine avobenzone with minerals like titanium dioxide, resulting in not only a non-stable formula, but the creation of even more damaging and aging free radicals in the skin.

No U.S. sunscreen currently provides the UVA protection available from European brand sunscreens such as Bioderma and Avene. Moreover, U.S. sunscreens often use chemicals that are not entirely safe. For example, oxybenzone, a common sunscreen filter used to block short UVA rays, is systemically absorbed almost 100%. Some researchers have concluded that oxybenzone should not be applied to large surface areas of the skin for extended and/or repeated periods of time, especially for children, whose systems may not be developed enough to properly detoxify the sunscreen from their bodies. The high systemic absorption of oxybenzone may be of concern since some studies have shown that oxybenzone is estrogenic. Concerns have also been expressed about the safety of 4-MBC, which is used heavily in Canadian sunscreens but is highly estrogenic. Fortunately, none of the sunscreens carried by Skin Beautiful Dermaceuticals contain these ingredients. And in fact, the new filters used in these latest European sunscreens have been proven to not have any estrogenic activity. They are also formulated to stay on top of the skin, which means not only that there is very minimal systemic absorption of chemicals, but also that the sunscreen stays where it’s supposed — on the surface of your skin — so it can protect you!

The following graph shows the UV protection provided by a typical U.S. drugstore sunscreen containing 7.5% octinoxate and 4% TIO2. This sunscreen has an SPF of 20, but a PPD of only 3.4. Notice that protection is significant–over 95% of UV rays are blocked–UNTIL you get to 330 nm. Remember that UVA rays are between 320 to 400 mn. This sunscreen blocks only 80% of the UVA rays at 340 nm and protection sharply declines from there, as can be seen from the graph. AT 460 nm, only 60% of the UVA are blocked and at 380 to 400 nm (long UVA rays), a person using this sunscreen is blocking less than 1/2 of the UVA rays. This is very poor protection indeed from the very damaging and pro-aging UVA rays. In fact, this sunscreen would actually fail the Australian sunscreen standards.



By comparison, let’s take a look at a European sunscreen with proven UVA protecting capabilities, Bioderma Photoderm MAX Ultra Fluide. This sunscreen has an SPF of 50+ and a PPD of 40. (Note: this sunscreen actually has an SPF of 100, but French regulations allow only the designation of 50+.) Note the significantly higher UVA protection. UVA protection is approximately 99% throughout 380 nm, and protection from 380 to 400 never drops below 80%. (Also note that the difference in UVB is not that dramatic. In fact, it is relatively easy to formulate a sunscreen that will protect significantly against UVB rays. The problem lies with formulating a sunscreen that will protect against UVA rays — the aging rays!)

bioderma fluide graph

Similarly, here is the protection received from Avene’s Very High Protection Emulsion:


How to Apply Sunscreens
Sunscreens are tested at the application rate of 2mg/cm2. In practical terms, this means that you need to apply 1/4 teaspoon to your face and another 1/4 teaspoon to your neck to obtain the stated SPF and PPD. That may not sound like a lot, but it is! If you purchase one of those tiny measuring spoon sets, you will be amazed at just how much sunscreen is required to get the stated protection. You would have to apply 6 squirts from a 4 oz. spray bottle to get approximately 1/4 teaspoon of sunscreen onto your face. Truly, this is far more than any average person would ever apply in an everyday setting, or even in extreme conditions for that matter.

So what to do? Skin Beautiful Dermaceuticals knows that most people are simply not going to apply enough sunscreen for everyday wear. To make it easier for you (and us, too!) we have chosen only sunscreens with exceptionally high UVA (PPD) values. What this means is that you can apply less than 1/4 teaspoon to your face and still be protected very well. For example, the second graph shown above displays the protection available from using approximately 1/4 teaspoon of Bioderma Photoderm MAX Ultra Fluide to the face. If you can get that much onto your face, that is great! However, if, like most people, you can barely get one-half that much on your face for everyday wear, and end up applying only 1/8 teaspoon to your face, you would still end up with a little less than 1/2 of the stated protection. Since the stated protection for Bioderma Photoderm MAX Ultra Fluide is a PPD of 40, 1/2 of that is still excellent protection for most situations and would still block almost 100% of the UVB and almost 90% of the UVA rays.

To ensure faithful sunscreen use, Skin Beautiful Dermaceuticals has also chosen only those sunscreens that are noted for their elegant textures and finish. The most important thing about your sunscreen is that you find it acceptable enough cosmetically that you will wear it every day! If that means you end up applying less than 1/4 tsp. daily, you will still win out over the person who uses a super high UVA product, but only wears it “once in a while” or for “extreme exposure.”

You can view our selection of exceptional sunscreens at Skin Beautiful Dermaceuticals.

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