Everyone has heard the statistic that 90% of premature aging of the skin is due to UVA/UVB radiation from the sun. You’ve heard it but have you really heard it? When you do, you realize that sunscreen is the single most important thing you can do for your skin. Period. An undeniable fact skincare experts preach so much that I think it has become background noise. Let me try to shed more light on it or at least make a compelling argument to revisit your sunscreen once and for all.
Throughout my career I have said, “the sunscreen you will use is the sunscreen I recommend." If it checks off all the boxes of official recommendations, I just want you to wear the stuff. Sunscreen is a challenge for a lot of people and studies have shown that only 18% of the population complies with the recommendation to wear sunscreen every day, year-round. I wonder how to reach the remaining 82%. I know the dilemma and have heard all the excuses: it smells, it feels sticky/oily/dry/balls up/funny cast to the skin etc. You name it I’ve heard it and frankly I agree with you! That’s why there are so many different versions of SPF products out there. Companies are trying to appeal to all the different requests they get from consumers. It’s mind blowing how many choices there are, and people STILL hate wearing it and disregard the recommendation to wear sunscreen every single day.
Skin is affected by waves on the electromagnetic spectrum. Ultraviolet Radiation (UVR) including UVA and UVB rays, infrared and blue visible light are found on the spectrum and are brought upon us by the sun. They are all known to cause free radical damage that produces changes in human skin that range from abnormal spots and pigmentation, to premature aging of the skin, to skin cancers (basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma). I know talking about skin cancer isn’t a “pretty” subject but it’s just a fact and must be part of the discussion. The good news is that wearing SPF correctly every day is your best defense against BOTH skin cancers and premature aging of the skin. SPF for the win!
UVA and UVB radiation are responsible for over 80-90% of the skin’s photodamage (photoaging) and is largely preventable. Look at the skin of a newborn baby - smooth, firm, bright, soft and unblemished by abnormal pigmentation, lines and wrinkles. It is not until the skin is exposed to the sun that most of the stuff we see as external aging of the skin manifests. Now, look at the skin on the sun exposed areas of your skin (that which is not covered by clothing) – the skin of your face, arms, neck and chest as an adult most often looks remarkably different that the skin not routinely exposed to the sun: breasts & buttocks! That’s sun damage, photodamage, UV damage, solar damage. Whatever you call it, however you slice it, the damaging effects of the sun to the skin are a real and irrefutable attack on our beauty at best, and at worst, can cost your life!
Nothing has brought this home more dramatically than when early in my NP career, I encouraged my dad to go have the spot on his face checked AGAIN! This time I told him to tell his physician NOT to burn it a third time, but to biopsy it and figure out what it was once and for all. My dad listened to me, and his doctor did too. About a week later, my dad’s physician called me terrified and with a sweet, humble voice, told me that I had saved my dad’s life! He admitted he probably would’ve burned it again, which in my dad’s case, the melanoma in situ (limited to that one spot) most likely would have spread and become a much different situation that very well could have claimed my dad’s life. Now thirty years later my father has worn sunscreen every single day, wears a hat and takes sun protection very seriously. There has been no recurrence of his melanoma and we treat all suspicious skin blemishes with the utmost respect. All that to say, sun protection through Sun Protection Factor (SPF) use is very important to me. It has played a personal role in my life, making it my passion to spread the word that SPF use is important, it works and most importantly drives my desire to figure out how to make it part of every person’s daily life. 365 days a year! Rain or Shine. Indoors or out. Wear it! Damn it!
Wear it daily because you could forget once and in as little as 5 minutes you could get a burn. Wear it because a sunburn and a suntan are signs that damage has been done to your skin. Wear it because a burn before the age of 18 results in a profoundly increased incidence of a lifetime risk of skin cancer. Wear it now, because it is NEVER too late to protect your skin. You need SPF in cloudy, rainy, cold weather just as much as you need it in sunny, hot, beautiful weather. UV rays shine through just as much, if not more, in bad weather as it does in good weather so make it part of your daily practice and you’ll always be covered.
I have not always been a member of the sunscreen police. Believe it or not (and there are many witnesses that can attest to my story) when I was in my teens up to my early 20’s I was a sunbather, sun tanner and a wanna be surfer girl! Yep, it’s true! I grew up in sunny Southern California. My friends and I would take the #53 bus to Newport Beach. We’d hang out at 15th street, eat $2/slice Perry’s Pizza and lay in the sun from morning to practically sunset! Getting a tan any way we could mostly by applying tanning oil or even worse, baby oil spiked with iodine! (I think at the time I believed the iodine would make me burn more creating more of a tan, but I think all it did was stain my skin making it look more golden). I longed to be the “little surfer girl” the Beach Boys crooned about. I couldn’t swim well or surf at all, which meant that all I was left with were sunburns, a peeling nose, and a daydream. (If anyone cares I loved my Teen Beat posters of Leif Garret, Bobby Sherman, and Laird Hamilton - The Big Wave Surfer) - tee hee.
I changed my ways in nursing school when I was educated about the damaging effects of the sun which was solidified with my father’s diagnosis. I am fair skinned with blue eyes which makes my skin more vulnerable to damage from the sun and more likely to develop problems too with both premature aging of the skin AND skin cancer. But just like most people, I thought sunscreen was off putting and wasn’t really practicing what I now preach 100%, until I started my career in medical aesthetics and had to deal with some of the damage I had caused to my skin (thankfully only cosmetic at the time!). I had some sun photodamage that presented itself as unwanted pigment spots, uneven skin tone, rougher texture, and fine lines. At 35, I doubled down on my skincare efforts and added Botox® for the fine lines, laser and chemical peels for everything else, and of course, top of the line, medical grade skincare. I’ve tried every brand of sunscreen out there! I used to carry 3 or 4 different brands for the face in my office and have a basket full of various products for the body. Remember my motto, “the sunscreen you will use is the sunscreen I recommend." With all the above, I was able to reverse some of the damage I had caused to my skin and have remained vigilant ever since. And just as those with the experience of an affliction are those best to educate others on the dangers of such affliction, I feel as a cosmetic nurse and former skin abuser, I’m in the perfect position to educate you and make recommendations for your care. I further set out to formulate an SPF product that offers the best protection, in the best formulation and with the best sunscreen ingredients available. We consulted a lab whose sole focus is the development of the best MINERAL sunscreens in the industry to make available for the market today. When you focus on ONE thing you can make it your mission and passion to be the best. Of course, we only want the best and will never settle for less.