The Skin Health of Sunscreen

Wearing sunscreen on a daily basis has become a hot topic, especially with South Africa having one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.  Sun protection is not only about keeping your skin looking young and beautiful; it is about taking steps to prevent developing life-threatening diseases in the future. 

Therefore, we do the right thing and apply sunscreen when we spending the day outdoors and next to the pool, but is that truly enough?

Sunscreen protects us from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays (UVR): UVA and UVB.  

UVB rays are the ones most commonly associated with sunburns and UVA rays are associated with skin aging.  UVA rays have the ability to pass through glass, which means your skin is exposed to them while you are driving and standing or sitting in front of windows with the blinds open. 

Sunscreen in turn creates a shield that prevents UVA and UVB rays from reaching the skin and keeps it safe from the harmful effects of Ultraviolet Radiation (UVR). 

Dermatologist, Dr Tarryn Jacobs had the following to say concerning the importance of wearing sunscreen from a professional point of view and added few other important points to take into consideration.

“Sunscreen use is an essential tool to prevent skin cancer, both melanoma and non-melanoma types. Research shows that daily sunscreen use can reduce your risk of getting melanoma in half.

If that is not enough motivation, keep in mind that aging of the skin is mainly due to the effect of Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) and that sunscreen is the most essential “antiaging” ingredient to slow down photo aging. UVB rays causing sunburns and uneven pigmentation and UVA and infrared radiation penetrate more deeply and damage the skin’s collagen, resulting in wrinkles and sagging skin. Unfortunately, Sunscreen cannot block out all UVR and need to be used in conjunction with protective clothing and sun-seeking behaviour!”  

Sunscreen in makeup and moisturisers –

“Generally, we do not apply enough moisturiser to get adequate protection from our moisturisers containing SPF. We need at least a half teaspoon of sunscreen for the face to be protected. I always recommend applying sunscreen on top of your moisturiser.”

Sunscreen clogging pores and causing breakouts –

“Certain types of sunscreens can cause breakouts, especially if you have acne-prone skin. So, look out for sunscreens that state it is non-comedogenic and will in turn not cause blogged pores.”

Difference between SPF30 and SPF50 –

“SPF (sun protection factor) tells you how long the suns UVR would take to redden your skin versus the amount of time without sunscreen. A sunscreen of SPF 30 protects against 97% of UVB rays while SPF 50 protects against 98% of UVB rays. These values were determined when applying the correct amount, which people often do not do. I would recommend at least an SPF30 for daily use and SPF50 if you are going to spend the day on the beach for extra protection to compensate for discrepancies in application.”

Difference between a mineral (physical) and chemical sunscreen – 

“Chemical sunscreens contain ingredients to absorb UV light and convert it into non-damaging forms.

Physical (mineral) sunscreens contain ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which reflect the UV light off the skin. 

Darker skin types may find that some mineral sunscreens may leave a white cast on the skin owing to the ingredients, but if you have sensitive skin or Rosacea, I would suggest a physical (mineral) blocker.” 

Importance of an expiry date on sunscreen packaging – 

“Sunscreen does indeed expire and using such products would give a false sense of protection against the sun with a likelihood of developing a sunburn and skin damage.”

Views on oral sunscreen – 

“There is a growing body of evidence to support the use of oral photo protection supplements for added protection. However, no pill can replace your sunscreen, and it is dangerous to assume you can pop a pill and not put on sunscreen. These pills are not sunscreen, as they are not blocking UVR.

These sun protection supplements tend to contain antioxidants that work on a cellular level to inhibit reactive oxygen species that is induced by UV radiation, minimising some of the inflammation and damage done to the cells. One of the products with studies backing their efficacy is Heliocare. It can be used in conjunction with proper sunscreen application for periods of prolonged sun exposure or in people who are very photosensitive.”

Ultimately, applying sunscreen protects our skin against sunburn and reduces the appearance of sun damage, dark spots, sagging or leathery skin, and wrinkles. Overall, assisting the skin to maintain a more even skin tone.

We also often forget there are other areas besides our face that requires daily sun protection.  Dr Tarryn adds, “The lips are more prone to skin cancers because the skin is so thin. It is important to apply an SPF to prevent this.” 

So remember areas like your ears, lips, hands and skin close to the edges of our clothing like our décolleté when applying your daily SPF.

My current personal favourites include Doctor Eckstein Active Concentrate SunShield 50 and for touch up during the day the La Roche-Posay Anthelios Antishine Invisible Mist SPF50.  With holidays around the corner, I also love packing my Heliocare Gelcream Colour Light SPF50 for that natural glow and a tad bit of colour without wearing actual base.

Dr Tarryn’s pics are the La Roche-Posay Invisible Fluid and for touch up over makeup, she loves using the Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection SPF50.

With so many amazing brands out there, stay radiant and healthy by adding a broad spectrum SPF to your daily skincare routine.  If you a little unsure pop over to the Dermastore, whereby you can filter sunscreen options by age, skin type and skin concern.  Whether you are planning a day outdoors or spend the day staying in, SPF!

So, if you in the Pretoria or Johannesburg area and would like to make an appointment with Doctor Tarryn you can find her at Noviskin in Pretoria or give her a follow on Instagram @drtarrynjacobs for all her expert skin health tips and advice. 

One Reply to “The Skin Health of Sunscreen”

  1. Definitely don’t want to age before my time, I’ll be using my sunscreen regularly now

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