Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

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 🙂

 

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

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

 

Test Your Sun Safety Knowledge June 27, 2011

The other day I took a sun safety quiz on WebMD and was surprised to find that I didn’t get every question correct.  Just goes to show you – you can always learn something new even if you are an esthetician obsessed with sun protection.  For example now I know that any color lenses in sunglasses are good for providing sun protection; I always thought that you needed dark lenses to get the most protection.

I urge everyone to click on the link above and take the sun safety quiz.  I promise it will be interesting, you’ll learn something new, and it will be well worth your time.

AND help support The Skin Cancer Foundation by taking a 5 question quiz on Facebook:

Throughout the summer, every person who takes the short “Sun Certification” quiz on www.Facebook.com/BananaBoatBrand will receive a “Sun Certified” badge to display on their own Facebook wall, and $1 will be donated to The Skin Cancer Foundation’s sun education initiative. Take the quiz and share the link with your friends and family!

Here’s to a sun safe summer!

 

Sun Protection 101 June 21, 2011

 

Today is June 21st, officially the first day of summer, so it is only appropriate that I write about proper sun protection today.  Over the past few months I’ve actually been gathering online articles and information about sun protection to share with my readers so that everyone can have a sun safe summer.

Below is a list of great resources (online articles and videos) to teach you everything you need to know about proper sun protection:

 

Here’s to sun safe summer everyone!

 

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month May 2, 2011

Filed under: skin cancer — askanesthetician @ 2:57 pm
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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!

 

 
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