The Sun and Your Skin

 Summer is fast approaching and we all love to spend time outdoors. Some sunshine is good for us; we all need our Vitamin D. But how much sun is too much? And how do we protect ourselves safely and effectively, while still getting that Vitamin D that most SF residents seem to be deficient in? Any of my regular clients can attest to my constant reminders and shaming to wear their SPF daily.

To select the best sunscreens, first we should understand the sun's radiation. There are two types of ultraviolet radiation we need to protect our skin from: UVA and UVB.

What’s the difference between UVA and UVB?

UVA is ultraviolet radiation, between 400-320nm wavelengths, and UVB is between 320-290nm wavelengths. The shorter the wavelength, the higher the energy of radiation. UVA rays account for 90 to 95% of UV radiation that reaches the earth. While UVB makes up only 5-10% of solar radiation, its high energy damages surface epidermal layers and causes sunburn. UVB, also known as the "burn rays," are strongest between 10am and 4pm, from April to October, and do not significantly penetrate glass. UVA is present equally throughout the daylight hours and throughout the seasons, and can penetrate clouds and glass.

Yes, I am speaking to YOU, all the people who say "I'm never in the sun, I sit in my office all day." Well, if your office has windows, here is your proof that those nasty UVA rays can still get at you while inside your office, the car, or on the bus on your commute to work. UVA penetrates deeper layers of skin and causes tanning. Sounds great, right? Not so much - UVA rays are also the primary cause of premature skin aging, including wrinkling, hyperpigmentation and broken capillaries. However, both types of UV rays can cause skin cancer because they damage skin cells and alter their DNA. UVB and UVA rays go hand in hand in accelerating the againg process, so it is no surprise that both wavelengths contribute to skin cancer.

But how can you prevent this? It's easy: wear an SPF product daily.

What are the different types of sunscreens?

There are different types of sunscreens ingredients that can go into an SPF: physical and chemical. Physical sunscreens are particles that reflect the sun's rays away from skin. The FDA approves two: Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide.

Chemical sunscreens form a thin layer on top of the skin and absorb UV rays before they reach the skin. The downside of chemical sunscreens is that some of them form free radicals, and can contribute to skin aging as well as cause irritation, allergic reactions, and possible long term health effects. This is the case with most over-the-counter SPF products you can purchase in drug stores. The FDA approves 17 active ingredients for SPF products, 15 of which are chemical sunscreens. Some chemical sunscreens are powerful generators of free radicals, and are estrogenic, mutagenic and may even cause skin cancers. Of the 17 approved filters in the United States, eight are regularly used. Of those eight, only two have demonstrated strong protection against UVA rays: zinc oxide and avobenzone. The reality is that until more UV filters are approved, and better formulations are made here in the United States, we are limited in our choices. All SPFs are not created equal, which is why we only sell and promote SPFs with a high zinc oxide content of 7% or higher.

Our Favorite SPFs

Dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, which blocks 97% of the sun's rays. SPFs higher than 30 block slightly more of the sun's rays, but do not be fooled by high SPF numbers. It is the ingredients that should always be the star of the show - not the SPF number. Always purchase a broad spectrum sunscreen; this is what will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays.

Additional Tips

Photo protective textiles/clothing. SPF clothing is still a fairly new concept but is a great option when practicing safe sun habits. Various companies offer hats and shirts that provide protection from the sun's harmful rays.

Reapply sunscreen. Sunscreens must be reapplied throughout the day to consistently protect for the entire time individuals are exposed to the sun, which means at least every 2 hours while you are outside.

Use an antioxidant. Adding the right form of Vitamin C to a skincare regimen will provide extra sun protection. Think of it as a sunscreen booster. When formulated correctly in a product, Vitamin C will penetrate the skin and increase sun protection, compared with using sunscreen alone. Not only that, but antioxidants also play a crucial role in preventing premature aging in the skin, and fighting free radicals.

Our favorite antioxidants

Eye Protection. Melanoma occurs most frequently around the eyes due to users not applying sunscreen to this delicate area. Choosing to wear polarized sunglasses will provide the protection needed, as well as applying an SPF that is safe and ophthalmologist tested for use on the eyelids and surrounding areas. As an aside - don't forget to treat the lips as well.

And PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE steer clear of tanning beds - they are UVA and UVB on steroids! If you need that summer glow, come in for our vegan spray tan! It is the safest, non-chemical way to get that beach babe look while keeping your skin healthy. All that said, we can still have fun in the sun when we are doing the right things to protect ourselves!


Love Your Skin with LED

As one of our regular clients, you may be wondering why LED has started to become part of several of our facial treatments. We are bonafide LED enthusiasts, and you are probably asking yourself, "What is LED?  What are its benefits in relation to skincare?"

Since we know our clients are smart and educated people, we decided to give you the actual nerdy basics on how LED works. The 2 biggest uses of LED in skincare are Acne and Anti-Aging.

Blue wavelengths that penetrate the skin and produce oxygen, which can destroy acne-causing bacteria. Once the blue light treatment is delivered, this light energy is absorbed by the targeted bacteria that produce the inflammation associated with acne, known as propionibacterium acnes, or “P. acnes”. P. acnes release porphyrins, which are naturally occurring molecules in the body. When porphyrins absorb certain wavelengths of light, free radical damage is produced, which destroys the bacteria. Without P. acnes around to cause inflammation, acne is reduced. The FDA has approved narrow-band, high intensity blue light for treating acne, so this is the real deal, and highly recommended for anyone on an acne skin care regimen.

Wavelengths of red light help improve skin’s barrier function by improving its ability to retain key elements it needs to heal and generate new collagen and elastin. Both of these are known to increase the elasticity of the skin and keep it looking healthy and young. Elasticity is what keeps the skin smooth.  Skin’s natural elasticity reduces with age, eventually resulting in visible wrinkles as the skin is not able to pull itself taut anymore. Also, as the body ages, the production of new skin cells slows down. With fewer new cells being produced, skin begins to have more of an aged look. The combination of increased levels of both elastin and collagen are said to reduce this effect significantly. As well as producing elastin and collagen, red light therapy also increases circulation.  It does this by relaxing the blood vessels in the treated areas allowing the blood to flow more easily. This further helps to prevent and get rid of wrinkles as increased circulation encourages the production of new skin cells.

On the origins of LED: originally developed by NASA, Light Emitting Diodes, or LED for short, was intended to deliver light deep into tissues of the body to promote wound healing and human tissue growth. The theory was that the light would attract the cytochromes, the parts of the cell that respond to light and color. When cytochromes are activated, their energy levels go up, which stimulates tissue growth and regeneration. Light therapy has been used in plants for years but researchers began to realize that it worked wonders on the skin, so the beauty industry went full throttle in its research. It was discovered that LED showed strong efficacy for the treatment of inflammatory acne, rosacea, wrinkles, sun damage, and uneven skin tone.

And now you know! LED treatments COMPLEMENT rather than REPLACE a well-formulated home skin-care routine.

What are you waiting for? Get in here and see for yourself!