Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Let’s Debunk Some Sunscreen Myths July 11, 2011

Prevention Magazine published a great article, SPF Excuses Even Smart Women Make, debunking lots of common excuses on why some people refuse to use sunscreen.  After presenting each excuse the magazine very clearly and precisely refutes it.  For example –

The Excuse: “The chemicals in sunscreen are probably more dangerous than sun exposure”

Reality Check: Sunscreens have gotten some bad press lately, including claims that they contain cancer-causing ingredients. But a recently published review of the studies on which these claims are based should ease fears. “Many of the safety concerns are not well founded—they’re based on petri dish or animal data that doesn’t relate to humans,” says Steven Wang, MD, director of dermatologic surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Basking Ridge, NJ, and coauthor of the review. For example, in one study, mice fed a whopping dose of oxybenzone, a UV-light absorber commonly found in sunscreens, exhibited estrogenic effects, which the researchers believe could cause cancer cells to grow more rapidly. But by Dr. Wang’s calculations, it would take more than 250 years for someone who uses sunscreen daily to be exposed to the amount of oxybenzone used in the study.

Still worried? Use a sunscreen like Beyond Coastal Natural SPF 30 Sunscreen ($16; beyondcoastal.com), which has zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in lieu of chemical sunscreens.

OR for instance –

The Excuse: “I don’t get a lot of sun”

Reality Check: You don’t have to be on the beach to soak up rays. Most people rack up 14 hours of casual UV exposure per week. And in one study, short spurts of UVA light twice a week resulted in significant damage to the fibers that keep skin smooth and firm in just 12 weeks. Skin care products like makeup and a daily lotion with SPF are great steps, but “the protection is short-lived on hot, sunny days,” says NYC dermatologist Arielle Kauvar, MD. Use a sweat-resistant sunscreen with at least SPF 30 on all sun-exposed areas to be safe. Supergoop! Save Face Sunscreen Serum SPF 30 ($32; supergoop.com) is decidedly ungoopy, meets our experts’ guidelines, and works great under makeup. Another option: Neutrogena Pure & Free Liquid SPF 50 ($13; drugstores).

The other excuses include:

If any of the excuses above sound like something you have thought then click on the excuse in order to see why it just isn’t true.

And lastly I want to offer some proof why the anti-sunscreen excuse – I don’t wear sunscreen so I can get my needed Vitamin D – is silly.  The July issue of Allure offers some illuminating (pun intended) statistics on that point:

200: Number of international units of vitamin D the United States government recommends getting per day.

10,000: Number of IUs of vitamin D the average fair-skinned person absorbs after ten minutes in the midday summer sun wearing shorts and a tank top.

I hope that people realize that they can get all the Vitamin D they need from supplements or from a very, very short time in the sun without sunscreen.  For more information about Vitamin D and the sun please see my previous post – Vitamin D and Sun Protection – which contains links to lots of articles about Vitamin D and sunscreen.

Lastly, I would like to point out that there are so many sunscreens on the market today that there really is a sunscreen out their for everyone no matter if you breakout or not or if your skin is sensitive or not.  (I was slightly horrified to read recently that Liv Tyler doesn’t use sunscreen on a daily basis because she feels that it clogs her pores.  At least, at the moment, she has superior genetics on her side so she still is very beautiful.  I wonder how she will look when all that sun damage catches up with her.)  If you want a really light but effectively sunscreen be sure to check out La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios 45 Ultra-Light Fluid for Face or one of their other sunscreens.  I can’t imagine someone complaining about how this sunscreen feels on their face.

 

33 Years In the Making: The FDA Unveils New Sunscreen Regulations June 15, 2011

It only took 33 years but the FDA is finally finalizing new and improved rules to regulate the labeling and sale of sunscreens in the United States.  Here are the highlights of these new rules:

  • Broad Spectrum designation. Sunscreens that pass FDA’s broad spectrum test procedure, which measures a product’s UVA protection relative to its UVB protection, may be labeled as “Broad Spectrum SPF [value]” on the front label. For Broad Spectrum sunscreens, SPF values also indicate the amount or magnitude of overall protection. Broad Spectrum SPF products with SPF values higher than 15 provide greater protection and may claim additional uses, as described in the next bullet.
  • Use claims. Only Broad Spectrum sunscreens with an SPF value of 15 or higher can claim to reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging if used as directed with other sun protection measures. Non-Broad Spectrum sunscreens and Broad Spectrum sunscreens with an SPF value between 2 and 14 can only claim to help prevent sunburn.
  • “Waterproof, “sweatproof” or “sunblock” claims. Manufacturers cannot label sunscreens as “waterproof” or “sweatproof,” or identify their products as “sunblocks,” because these claims overstate their effectiveness. Sunscreens also cannot claim to provide sun protection for more than 2 hours without reapplication or to provide protection immediately after application (for example– “instant protection”) without submitting data to support these claims and obtaining FDA approval.
  • Water resistance claims. Water resistance claims on the front label must indicate whether the sunscreen remains effective for 40 minutes or 80 minutes while swimming or sweating, based on standard testing. Sunscreens that are not water resistant must include a direction instructing consumers to use a water resistant sunscreen if swimming or sweating.
  • Drug Facts. All sunscreens must include standard “Drug Facts” information on the back and/or side of the container.

The above changes will become law in a year.  Interestingly one important change has, for the moment, been left out of the new rules:

The proposed rule, if finalized, would limit the maximum SPF value on sunscreen labels to “50 +” because there is not sufficient data to show that products with SPF values higher than 50 provide greater protection for users than products with SPF values of 50.

 Additionally, the FDA is going to study spray sunscreens to determine what level of protection they provide and if they could be toxic if inhaled.  The FDA is also going to reexamine 17 sunscreen ingredients.

Though this has been a long time coming I applaud the FDA’s new rules though I would love for there to be a ban on SPF 50 or higher when the new rules go into effect in a year.

 

Sources and Further Reading:

 

Help Support Skin Cancer Research May 26, 2011

 

As May, Skin Cancer Awareness Month, comes to an end I wanted to highlight a few ways all of us can help support skin cancer research.

Consider donating to the Melanoma Research Alliance and/or The Skin Cancer Foundation.

Or if you prefer to donate in a more roundabout way – consider buying from one of these companies.  When you do a donation will be made to The Skin Cancer Foundation.

And remember to always set a good example when it comes to sun protection.  Never use a tanning bed and educate others on the risks of tanning beds (see my post Teens and Tanning Beds for more information).  Always apply sunscreen daily.  Wear a hat and sunglasses when you are outdoors.  Get a skin cancer screening

Also help out by signing a “ letter to the Surgeon General asking her to urge the FDA to enact stricter regulations and more oversight of tanning beds”.  The letter is sponsored by The Skin Cancer Foundation.

The Skin Cancer Foundation offers even more sun safe tips.

Have a great and sun safe Memorial Day Weekend!

 

In Your Face: See What Skin Cancer Looks Like May 9, 2011

Filed under: skin cancer — askanesthetician @ 6:11 am
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Since May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month I wanted to devote another post to the subject of skin cancer.  I urge everyone, especially those who have never had one, to go get a skin cancer check.  You can even get one for free.  And if there isn’t a free screening in your area you can certainly do a self-examination.

Remember that being aware of what is going on with your skin involves much more than paying attention to if you need a moisturizer or not or if your skincare products are doing what they should.  Though those things are important being aware of what is going on with your skin also means being very aware of any changes that might be going with your skin and/or  appearance of new growths and spots on your skin.

I’ll explain using an example.  The other day a regular client came to see me for a chemical peel.  Before we got started she asked if I could look at a small, white dot that had appeared seemingly overnight by the side of her nose.  I told her truthfully that I wasn’t sure what it was and that perhaps it was a clogged pore.  Since I work for a doctor we were able to get the doctor to come in and give it a look as well.  Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, the doctor disagreed with my assessment and thought that it could be a precancerous lesion.  My client, on the advice of the doctor, agreed to monitor the area for about a month.  If it hadn’t disappeared in a month she would come back to have it biopsied.

Though I am, of course, hoping for the best for my client and keeping my fingers crossed that this white lesion is nothing, I did tell her that it was great that she was so aware of what was going on with her skin.  If the mark turns out to be something serious we will be able to take care of it before it turns into something even more scary.  Paying attention to your skin could be life saving.

Now if you are wondering what sorts of things to look out for when it comes to your skin here is a slide show of photos of suspicious lesions.  The photos aren’t gross.  Believe me – I get very squeamish very easily so I wouldn’t recommend that people look at photos that would make me cringe or feel sick.

So give this slide show from WebMD a look.  A little knowledge could be lifesaving:

 

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month May 2, 2011

Filed under: skin cancer — askanesthetician @ 2:57 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

 

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month making this the perfect time for me to once again get up on my soapbox and give out some very important sun protection tips. 

First and foremost, and I can’t emphasize this enough, be aware of the fact that skin cancer is preventable.  Be vigilant about using your sunscreen and you will drastically cut-down on your chances of getting skin cancer.  Never, ever use a tanning bed!  Using a tanning bed is almost like asking to get melanoma.  Just say no!  Get a fake tan instead.

Everyone, no matter what their skin color is, needs to use a broad-spectrum (that means the sunscreen blocks both UVA and UVB rays) sunscreen of at least SPF 30 every day – no matter what.  Even if you the only time you are spending outdoors is in your car driving around – you still need sunscreen.  Even if it is cloudy outside you still need a sunscreen.   Remember to put sunscreen on every part of your body that is exposed – like your ears, your neck, and your hands.

Get a skin cancer check from a dermatologist.  It only takes about 5 minutes.  You can even get one for free.

Protect yourself and protect those you love.  Set a good example for your kids by using sunscreen and wearing a hat when you are outdoors.

Can’t decide what sunscreen to buy?  Get Sephora’s Sun Safety Kit for only $25.  It includes sample sizes of 11 different products.

Want to learn more?  Two of my favorite online sources for skin cancer information are The Skin Cancer Foundation and The American Academy of Dermatology website.

And above all – use your sunscreen and be sun smart!

 

Teens and Tanning Beds April 28, 2011

Hopefully you don’t know a teen who uses a tanning bed, but the scary thing is that too many teens do use tanning beds since they are completely unaware of the dangers involved with their use.  Once a teen starts tanning it is really hard to get them to stop (it has even been proven that tanning is addictive which is very scary).  The US lags behind other nations in banning the use of tanning beds by teens; for instance the UK has banned the use of tanning beds by anyone under the age of 18.

According to The Skin Cancer Foundation:

Despite a link between indoor tanning bed use and an increased risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, 2.3 million teenagers visit tanning salons every year. In the spring, many tanning salon patrons are college students getting ready for spring formals, and high school students gearing up for prom season. So it’s no surprise that melanoma is now the most common form of cancer in young adults 25-29 years old, and the second most common form of cancer in adolescents and young adults ages 15-29.

“The damage caused by the ultraviolet (UV) radiation from tanning beds and the sun is cumulative and often irreversible, and the earlier people start to tan, the higher their risk of developing skin cancer in their lifetimes,” said Perry Robins, MD, President, The Skin Cancer Foundation. “In fact, melanoma risk increases by 75 percent when indoor tanning begins before age 35.”

If the threat of skin cancer isn’t enough to scare young people away from tanning salons, they should know that 90 percent of visible skin changes commonly attributed to aging are caused by exposure to UV radiation. Tanning accelerates the signs of aging, including wrinkles, leathering and fine lines, which can be seen as early as in one’s twenties.

Despite the fact that The American Academy of Pediatrics supports a ban on the use of tanning beds by minors it is still legal for teens to use tanning beds.  The Skin Cancer Foundation points out:

In the US, tanning is regulated by the states, some of which allow children as young as 14 to tan. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies UV-emitting tanning machines as Class I Medical Devices, meaning that it considers them to “present minimal potential for harm to the user.” Last year, the General and Plastic Surgery Devices Panel of the FDA’s Medical Devices Advisory Committee unanimously recommended that the FDA upgrade its classification of tanning devices to better reflect the serious health risks tanning machines pose. The majority of the panel was also in favor of an age restriction to limit minors’ access to UV tanning devices.

So until the FDA and/or the federal government ban the use of tanning beds by minors what can you do to prevent teens from using tanning beds?  First and foremost, I think education is key.  If scaring a teen with the risk of cancer isn’t enough to get them to stop using a tanning bed appeal to their vanity by explaining that they are aging their skin tremendously by using a tanning bed.  If you want to do even more write to the FDA and/or your senator or congressperson asking them to support a ban on tanning bed use by minors.  Recommend to a teen who really likes how their skin looks tan to get a spray tan or fake a tan with a home applied tanning lotion.  There are a tremendous number of products on the market in all price ranges so there is really no excuse not to try one if you like the way your skin looks tan.

If any of the above tactics don’t stop the teens you know from tanning have them hear a personal story about the dangers of tanning beds.  I found this story on the FDA website:

Brittany Lietz Cicala of Chesapeake Beach, Md., began tanning indoors at age 17. She stopped at age 20 when she was diagnosed with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. The former Miss Maryland says she used tanning beds at least four times a week, and sometimes every day.

“Growing up, until I started using tanning beds, my parents were very strict about me wearing sunscreen,” says Cicala. Although she also tanned in the summer sun during her 3 years of tanning bed use, Cicala estimates that 90 percent of her UV exposure was in tanning beds during this period.

In the 4 years since she was diagnosed with melanoma, Cicala’s surgeries have left her with about 25 scars. Cicala gets a head-to-toe skin exam every 3 months, which usually results in removal of a suspicious growth.

 

Sources and Further Reading:

 

 

 

Winter Sun Care December 15, 2010

Just because it is cold doesn’t mean you should put away your sunscreen.  Just the opposite, especially if you are going to participate in outdoor winter sports.  According to an online article in Skin Inc:

… researchers found that while UV levels can be just as high atop a snowy mountain as on a sandy beach in mid-summer, skiers and snowboarders don’t always protect their skin accordingly.  “It’s a little counterintuitive,” lead researcher Peter A. Andersen, of the School of Communication at San Diego State University in California, told Reuters Health. “But there’s an inordinate amount UV at that elevation, reflecting off the snow and coming at you from all directions. Skiers are bathed in radiation.”  … 

Andersen and his colleagues visited 32 high-altitude ski resorts in western North America, where they took a total of 4,000 UV readings—some pointed directly at the sun, others at the sky away from the sun or at the snowy slope of the mountain. On the same days, they interviewed guests on chairlifts and observed their sun-protective clothing and equipment.Not surprisingly, UV radiation peaked at midday, and was more intense during spring than winter, with clear skies and at higher altitudes and lower latitudes. Higher temperatures also played a small role. Of course, avoidance of these peak conditions does not mean absolute UV protection, the researchers say. Although UV can drop by as much as half with cloud cover, for example, there is still plenty of skin-damaging radiation that sneaks through.

“Depending on the conditions, the UV index at a ski resort can potentially be as powerful as Waikiki on a bright, sunny day,” he said, referring to the Hawaiian beach. He pointed out that his team had multiple readings of 10, or “very high,” based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s UV index. But people’s behavior didn’t always match the UV intensity, report the researchers in the Archives of Dermatology.

 

So what can you do to protect yourself from the sun while participating in outdoor winter sports?    Apply a sunscreen with spf 30 or higher every two hours while outdoors or reapply after sweating.  Cover up with gloves, hats with brims, and sunglasses while outdoors.  Any exposed skin should have sunscreen on it so be sure to apply sunscreen to your neck and ears.  And don’t forget your lips!  They need sunscreen as well – always. 

And remember these tips are for everyone even if you don’t spend a lot of time outdoors during the winter.  You still need your sunscreen if all you are doing is driving back and forth from work in your car.   Sun protection is  year round committment – never put your sunscreen away!

 

Sources and Further Reading

 

 

 
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