Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Winter Skincare Round-Up December 14, 2014

 

Winter can bring about a lot of unpleasant skin changes – dry and itchy skin, red and irritated skin, cracked hands, chapped lips.  Fun, right?  As always I want to help my readers best care for their skin under any weather conditions, but instead of writing a new post about winter skin care I’m going to share my older posts on the topic.  Looking back at my previous posts I realized I had covered so many issues related to winter skincare that, at the moment, there wasn’t something new to add.

Happy reading and wishing you beautiful and healthy skin during the winter!

 

Photo from wallalay.com

 

A Slew of Interesting and Important Sunscreen Articles July 21, 2014

Filed under: skin cancer,sun protection,Uncategorized — askanesthetician @ 7:30 am
Tags: , , , ,

 

Allure magazine’s Daily Beauty Reporter recently published a few excellent posts about sunscreen that I decided to share here all at once instead of posting them piecemeal on my Facebook page:

 

 

May Is Skin Cancer Awareness Month May 7, 2013

Sunbathing by the Sea

The number of times I have written a post in this blog about sun safety, skin cancer, or sunscreen could, at this point, fill a book.  Well maybe not a book but at least a thick pamphlet.  But since it is once again Skin Cancer Awareness Month I thought it important to revisit these topics yet again.  It is always good to be reminded about proper sun safety.  Skin cancer is an almost entirely preventable cancer so keeping yourself and your loved ones safe from the sun is of utmost importance.  Yes, proper sun protection takes some extra time and thought, but preventing skin cancer shouldn’t be an afterthought.  And I haven’t even mentioned the wrinkles and pigmentation issues that come from daily sun exposure.  So if skin cancer doesn’t concern you particularly at least protect your skin from the sun in order to keep it looking young and fresh.

The Skin Cancer Foundation provides the following sun safety tips:

Since its inception in 1979, The Skin Cancer Foundation has always recommended using a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher as one important part of a complete sun protection regimen. Sunscreen alone is not enough, however.

  • Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
  • Do not burn.
  • Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths.
  • Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside.
    Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
  • Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.
  • See your physician every year for a professional skin exam

Allure adds even more tips:

As much as we know about skin cancer, though, only about 20 percent of us wear sunscreen daily. (Which is crazy, considering in a poll we did onAllure’s Facebook page, 68 percent of our fans said they either have had skin cancer or know someone who has.) But here’s the thing: It’s never too late to start taking care of your skin. Here, a few sun-protection tricks to keep in mind as the temperatures start to rise:

• If you’re the outdoorsy type, you may want to take a summer vacation from retinols: They thin the top layer of skin and can make you vulnerable to redness and brown spots, says dermatologist Fredric Brandt.

• One bottle of sunscreen is not going to last. “One ounce is the right goal for each application, as well as for each reapplication, so a 12-ounce bottle is 12 servings—and that’s not a lot,” says Patricia Wexler, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. Set an alarm on your phone to ring every two hours to remind you to reapply.

• If you’re outside for 30 minutes or more, wear a chemical sunscreen (like one with Mexoryl SX or Parsol) topped by a physical one (with Z-Cote or titanium dioxide). “Neither type is 100 percent perfect, and whatever rays get through the first layer are caught by the second one,” says Miami dermatologist Leslie Baumann.

• Think twice before you use sunscreen wipes: The FDA is reviewing their effectiveness, along with powders and shampoos containing SPF. (No decisions have been made yet.)

So whatever your daily beauty routine is make sure that it includes an SPF of at 15 but SPF 30 is better.  Apply 365 days a year, rain or shine.  And be sure that everyone you love and care about is protected from the sun as well.

My Related Posts:

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post I’ve written so much about the topic of this post that I decided to choose some of my related posts to share here.  If you type “sun” into the search line on the home page of this blog you’ll find even more related posts.

Image from askdegas.com: Sunbathing by the Sea.  And yes, I do think everyone should go to the beach fully dressed 🙂

 

UPF Clothing – Really Protecting You From The Sun? August 20, 2012

Loyal readers to this blog know that I am sun protection obsessed.  Besides for reminding my readers to always use sunscreen I have promoted the use of clothes with built-in sun protection and laundry detergent additives that wash sun protection into your clothes (I have also used this laundry additive myself) in this blog.  But I had to rethink my promotion of these products when I read The New Times article New Breed of Products Is Said to Offer Sun Protection, but Doubts Linger back in May.  (Yes, May.  I’ve been slow to write about this issue)

Now why would I start to rethink my position on these products?  For a very simple reason – there is no oversight over their production, just over how they are advertised.  So you have to trust that the product is doing what the manufacturer says it is and being the cynical person I am I sometimes doubt that companies have the consumers best interest in mind.

The article does a good job at explaining the dilemmas surrounding these products:

…  manufacturers are upping the ante with whole new categories of chemically treated products that purport to block ultraviolet light. The products range from clothing and shoes to makeup and umbrellas. There are even sunscreen bikinis that pledge to shield those patches of skin that they actually cover.

But consumers and dermatologists have their doubts. Among those doctors who view this new breed of products as just so much marketing is Dr. Naomi Lawrence, head of procedural dermatology at Cooper University Medical Center in Camden, N.J.

“When it comes to sun protection, you really can’t beat a dark shirt with a tight weave and a good hat,” she said. “There is a lot you can do and not spend a lot of money.”

Which is not to say that many UV-protective products do not do what they promise. UV-protective clothing — once the realm of specialty retailers catering to skin cancerpatients, but now a hot seller for brands like the Gap, Izod,Uniqlo and Lands End — add protection by infusing fabric with chemicals that absorb UV rays, like titanium dioxide or Tinosorb. Sunscreen-infused laundry additives work the same way. With the infusion, summer-ready materials like cotton and linen can keep harmful rays from reaching the skin, even if the fabric is white, yellow or light blue, for example.

Because standard clothing must be densely woven or dark colored to offer advanced UV protection, these specially treated clothes are “good if you want something long-sleeved that is also lightweight,” Dr. Lawrence said.

But as sun-protective clothing has made its way into the mainstream, seemingly obvious features like sleeves have occasionally been sacrificed, defeating part of the purpose. Lesser offenses include shorts and sleeveless shirts, while items like bikinis — which claim to offer the maximum degree of sun protection — might be a bit of a stretch.

…  The Food and Drug Administration briefly regulated sun-protective clothes in the early 1990s, classifying them as medical devices. While it no longer does that, the Federal Trade Commission does monitor marketing claims about garments and sun protection. A measurement called UPF, or ultraviolet protection factor, is the standard for UV-protective clothing. Developed in 2001 by ASTM International, a product-testing agency, a UPF ranges from 1 to 50, with 50 being the most UV light that is blocked by a garment.

Despite the doubts about these clothes why are consumers still purchasing them?

While no one tracks sales of sun-protective products across categories, the market for them is clearly growing, said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst with the NPD Group, a research company.

“Coming out of the recession, consumers are looking at products with a greater level of scrutiny and greater expectations,” he said. “They want their products to do more than just one thing, not just to look good, but to travel well and to match their lifestyle and to protect them from the environment.”

So is it a good idea to invest in these types of clothes which generally are not cheap?  I think that if you spend a lot of time outdoors in a sunny climate than yes.  Clothes like these could definitely benefit people who exercise outdoors in the summer and have a tendency to both sweat off their sunscreen and/or not have the time to reapply.  Clothing with built-in sun protection could be a real help to such people.  Just make sure you buy your clothes and products for a reputable manufacturer and read consumer reviews before hand.

 

Further Reading:

Image from spagenius.com

 

Sunscreen Myths – Beware of Things You Read and Hear July 2, 2012

Filed under: sun protection — askanesthetician @ 5:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

A few weeks ago as a patient was leaving our office she turned to tell me and the doctor I work for that Dr. Oz had recommended on his TV show that you go outside without sunscreen on for 15 minutes in order to get enough Vitamin D.  Both the doctor I work for and myself told her that we did not agree with Dr. Oz’s recommendation.  We explained that by going outside, even for 15 minutes, without sunscreen you still get too much sun exposure and expose yourself to the risk of skin cancer.  The stakes were simply too high to follow that recommendation.  If you aren’t getting enough Vitamin D take a supplement instead of going out into the sun unprotected.

Of course being the sunscreen fanatic that I am along with the fact that I see it as a personal responsibility to warn people about the dangers of skin cancer, I was very upset after hearing that Dr. Oz had made that comment on TV to millions of viewers.  I can tell you that many women take Dr. Oz’s medical advice extremely seriously and want to follow it to a T.  So I did a little online research and found the reference our patient had mentioned:

If these foods don’t sound very appealing to you, there is good news: you don’t have to eat vitamin D to make sure you’re getting your daily dose! Vitamin D is actually produced in your body when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike your skin. The UV rays trigger synthesis of vitamin D, which then gets converted in your liver into its active form.

This means one of the best ways to get vitamin D is to spend about 10-15 minutes a day outside in the sun. Keep in mind that wearing sunscreen will prevent you from getting adequate vitamin D outdoors. In the summertime, an easy solution is skipping sunscreen on your legs for the first 15 minutes in the sun. Just make sure you apply in time to prevent any burns or damage.

If this sounds complicated (or it’s cloudy!), there’s an even easier way to get your vitamin D: many foods in the American diet are fortified with this essential nutrient. In fact, fortified foods provide the majority of vitamin D in our diets.

(From Daily Dose: Vitamin DThe Dr. Oz Show website)

I am not here to quibble about the fact that you can get all the Vitamin D that your body needs from the sun, what I am going to argue against is Dr. Oz’s advice.  Let’s be very realistic here – you’ve thought about it and today you notice it is sunny outside so you think “I’ll be out and about running errands, I won’t put sunscreen on for the first 15 minutes I am out”.  Now how many people do you know who will stop during their busy day and put on sunscreen??  I don’t know any.  People drastically underestimate the amount of damage intermittent sun exposure does to their skin.  Put your sunscreen on everyday before you leave the house.  If you are inside during the day and then leave to go out while it is still sunny put more sunscreen on all your exposed skin.  A tan may look sexy now but wrinkles and dark spots are not sexy later on.  And remember – a tan is a sign of damage to your skin no matter how fabulous you think you look right now.  One of the most common complaints any esthetician hears is about sun damage.  It is very hard to treat hyperpigmentation (one way you can gauge how hard it is to treat a specific skin issue is by the number of products on the market sold to treat it.  There is no perfect solution for hyperpigmentation hence the vast proliferation of products to erase it).  I found this comment about Vitamin D and sun exposure to be just another example of how well-meaning advice will be improperly followed and interpreted out in the real world.

Another case in point – terror over the safety of sunscreens.  The EWG has made numerous headlines over their claims that sunscreens are more harmful than helpful.  As with many controversies the cold hard truth gets lost adminsts the hype.  Renee Rouleau does a good job at explaining one controversial sunscreen ingredient in her blog post Does Sunscreen Cause Cancer?:

While the internet is an amazing resource for information, when a rumor gets out there, it spreads like crazy on the web and when people read it they may consider it to be factual.

One such skin care rumor that has swirled around on the internet for a while now is that octinoxate–the most common sunscreen ingredient in the world– causes cancer. Then the other day I was reading one of the handled bags from a recent Lululemon purchase and was shocked when I read the following printed on their bag: “Sunscreen absorbed into the skin might be worse than sunshine. Get the right amount of sunshine.” What? Did I really read this correctly on a Lululemon bag? Why is a fitness clothing company implying this claim on their cute bags that are given out in the stores? While I’m certainly okay with getting the right amount of sunshine as I do many of my own workouts outdoors, I am not okay with the comment implying that sunscreens may be worse than sunshine. This is wrong and misleading. Can we say melanoma–one of the deadliest forms of cancer??? There is so much scientific evidence that excessive sun exposure can increase your chances of skin cancer.  (Read more about melanoma here.)…

So does sunscreen cause cancer? No. This is simply not true because there is no study at all that proves octinoxate causes cancer, and without a proven scientific study, this claim simply can be not accurate and true.

Some cosmetic brands that do not use this ingredient in their sunscreens will use scare tactics to get consumers to believe that their product is safe and others are harmful. This has been the case with parabens and I have spoken publicly about this here. Instead, they use the phrase “linked to cancer” to scare the public to buy their product, instead of “proven to cause cancer”– and there is a huge difference between the two.

In some studies where octinoxate is “linked” to cancer, the ingredient has been placed in high concentrations directly onto various types of cells taken from skin or other areas of the body (liver, uterus) or was fed to rats or mice in their food. One such study, conducted by researchers at the University of Zurich in Switzerland in 2004, found evidence of endocrine disruption activity in rats fed octinoxate but did not find a link to cancer.*1 Shortly after the 2004 study was published, another research group in Australia found detectable amounts of octinoxate in the stratum corneum and epidermis layers of the skin 24 hours after applying the ingredient to intact skin, but the amount found was 5 times less than studies where octinoxate was applied directly to human keratinocytes in a Petrie dish.

Bottom line: There is no evidence or information about octinoxate causing cancer. Trust me, if there were valid, published studies about octinoxate as a cause of cancer, we would all know about it.

The Skin Cancer Foundation has long refuted the EWG’s claims that sunscreen ingredients are dangerous and are doing more harm than good.

Recent attacks on sunscreens in the media point to imperfections and potential risks, but miss the point that sunscreen continues to be one of the safest and most effective sun protection methods available.

We are concerned that the criticisms will raise unnecessary fears and cause people to stop using sunscreen, doing their skin serious harm.

In general, the criticisms have not been based on hard science. In fact, The Chair of the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Photobiology Committee, an independent panel of top experts on sun damage and sun protection, reviewed the same studies cited in the media, and found that their determination of what made a sunscreen bad or good was based on “junk science.”

(If Recent Attacks on Sunscreen Concern YouThe Skin Cancer Foundation)

In the same article The Skin Cancer Foundation goes on to refute different claims made against sunscreens such as:

• Retinyl Palmitate, a Form of Vitamin A and an Ingredient in 41 Percent of Sunscreens, Speeds up Growth of Tumors and Other Lesions When Exposed to the Sun.

An FDA study is often cited for this data, with some faulting the FDA for not releasing the study. However, the FDA is yet to release the study precisely because it has not gone through proper peer review. Thus, the criticisms are based on an unapproved 10-year-old study of mice that has never been published in any journal. To date, there is no scientific evidence that vitamin A is a carcinogen in humans. What’s more, only trace amounts of retinyl palmitate appear in sunscreens, and some evidence suggests that it is actually protective against cancer.

I think the lesson here is don’t believe everything you read or see on TV.  You’re a smart person, right?  Do some of your own research before just accepting what someone else has to say.

Further watching and reading (from my related posts):

Mary Cassatt painting Children Playing on the Beach image from wikipaintings.org

 

Beach and Pool Survival Guide June 21, 2012

June 21st is officially the first day of summer.  Kids are out of the school, and it is time to hit the beach or the pool (or both).

Here are some tips to make sure you that you have a sun safe and skin healthy time outside this summer:

  • Apply sunscreen before you leave the house
  • Use at least SPF 30 but 40 or 50 are even better
  • Apply a VERY generous amount of sunscreen to all exposed areas of your body.  Don’t forget your ears, backs of your hands, and feet.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours or right after swimming or excessive sweating
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses
  • Seek shade
  • Drink lots of water
  • Consider wearing clothes and bathing suits with UPF protection.  But don’t rely solely on the clothes for sun protection, use sunscreen too.
  • Do NOT burn!
If you are a parent make it a priority to not only protect your child from the sun but to also model sun safe behavior for them as well.
One other group that needs special consideration when it comes to sun protection are teens.  If someone has an idea of how to get through to teens about how to be sun safe I would love to hear it.  Though I have never had skin cancer (knock on wood) I really believe that the sun damage that I am now seeing on my face in my late 30s I developed as a teen.  I wish I had known then how to protect my skin from the sun.  Sometimes I try to convince teens (and adults) to use sunscreen by appealing to their vanity.  Hey – whatever works, right?
For more tips look at this information from The Skin Cancer Foundation:

 

 

Also – check out You Asked! Beach Bag Essentials from WebMD.

 

 

David Hockney painting image from http://rainfall8.wordpress.com/

 

Should You Avoid Spray On Sunscreens? June 14, 2012

Filed under: sun protection — askanesthetician @ 5:00 am
Tags: , , ,

I spend a lot of time thinking about sun protection.  Anyone who knows me personally or professionally knows that.  So of course when I saw the following post from The Beauty Brains I got to thinking:

Rebecca requests…On a recent trip to the beach I was unfortunate enough to sit down wind of someone applying a spray on sunscreen. I think less than half of what she sprayed actually hit her body because most of it was blown away by the breeze and landed on me!  I could feel it and even see a fine film covering my  sunglasses. I couldn’t help but wonder how in the world a spray on product can provide effective sun protection. Do the spray products use different ingredients than the lotions?

The Left Brain responds:

Formulating a spray-on sunscreen does present different challenges than creating a lotion product.

Spray-on savvy

To start with, even thin emulsions are difficult to spray because they don’t atomize well and they can clog the valve. So, most spray products are solutions of UV absorbers in ethanol. That means only alcohol soluble ingredients like Avobenzone, Homosalate, Octisalate, Octocrylene, and Oxybenzone can be used.   Physical sunblocks, like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, are not alcohol soluble so they can’t be sprayed from this type of product.  In addition, to help ensure that the sunscreen coats the skin evenly, film forming ingredients like Acrylates/Octylacrylamide Copolymer are added. These film formers helps keep prevent the alcohol solution from pooling in nooks and crannies of your skin.

Of course none of this matters if too much overspray occurs. If the spray doesn’t hit your skin it’s obviously wasted.  While they are appealing because of ease of application you may be getting less deposition than you realize, especially if you’re applying them on a windy day. Considering how important uniform sunscreen application is for the prevention of sunburn (and potentially skin cancer), I think it’s a bit risky to rely on this kind of spray application.

Perhaps that’s why sprays are not “officially” approved as sunscreens even though they are sold as such. According to an article by Stanley B Levy, MD published Medscape, as of April 11, 2012, “The FDA Final Monograph has not approved sprays as a dosage form pending further considerations and testing.”

Spray-on= $$

Furthermore, all that wasted over spray makes spray-on sunscreens potentially more expensive to use. And when you factor in the cost of ethanol (which is a more expensive  solvent than water) and the aluminum can and the valve hardware (which are more expensive than a plastic lotion bottle), you may end up paying a lot more for the convenience of not getting lotion all over your hands. I think I’ll stick with lotions.

Though I am far from a fan of the EWG this organization also urges people to avoid the use of spray sunscreens because:

Aerosol spray sunscreen packages will soon be required to display FDA-mandated warnings such as “use in a well ventilated area” and “intentional misuse… can be harmful or fatal.” These cautions highlight growing concerns that sprays pose serious inhalation risks. Spray sunscreens also make it too easy to miss a spot, leaving bare skin exposed to harmful rays.

As mentioned in the above quote from the EWG, the FDA is concerned about what people are inhaling when spray sunscreens are used:

For sunscreen spray products, the agency requested additional data to establish effectiveness and to determine whether they present a safety concern if inhaled unintentionally.  These requests arose because sprays are applied differently from other sunscreen dosage forms, such as lotions and sticks.

(From FDA Sheds Light on Sunscreens)

Bottom Line:  Spray on sunscreens are a god sent for people with children who can’t and won’t sit still long enough for you to apply the proper amount of sunscreen to their skin.  Yet even with the best intentions you still run the risk of really not getting adequate sun protection when using these sunscreens.   If you can use cream and lotion sunscreens instead.

 

 

Image from http://www.scientificamerican.com

 

 
%d bloggers like this: