As we head into the summer months we all begin to think about sunscreen a little more. Most people don’t realize that wearing sunscreen is important all year long whether you are heading to the beach, into the office or gym. Exposure to harmful UVA and UVB sun rays can occur on a short walk, driving in the car or even when sitting by a sunny restaurant window. Sun exposure can cause sun damage, early onset aging and skin cancer.
All Sunscreens are not the same. Sunscreens are broken into two main categories, Physical Sunblock and Chemical Sunblock. Each type has a different make up and mechanism of action. Chemical Sunscreens absorb into the skin and then work by absorbing the UV rays. After the rays are absorbed, they are converted to heat in the body and then released by the body. Chemical blocks are absorbed quickly & are effective starting 20 minutes after being applied. This is definitely something to keep in mind when doing any type of outdoor activity. We remind our patients to allow time for the sunblock to become effective. Chemical Blocks are often used when a water proof product is needed. Most Chemical Blocks have the active ingredients Avobenzone, Octinoxate & Oxybenzone.
Physical Sunblock works by sitting on top of the skin, when the sun rays hit the sunblock they are reflected off of it. Once applied the block begins working immediately. This type block tends to be less irritating, have a longer shelf life and be a better option for sensitive skin. Our patients with rosacea & redness benefit from the properties that Physical Sunblocks have. Since the sun rays are not being absorbed the skin stays cooler and redness and rosacea are not intensified. One down side to Physical Blocks is that they are harder to fully blend into the skin and can feel heavy. The minerals Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide are the main active ingredients in Physical Sunblock. Whether choosing a Chemical Sunblock or Physical Sunblock it is important to remember that sunscreen must be reapplied to maintain effectiveness.
Sunscreen should be a part of your daily routine. To get the best results it should be massaged thoroughly into the skin and given time to dry. People often ask how much should be applied we like to say when covering your entire body, a full shot glass of the sunblock is the appropriate amount. People commonly miss spots on their bodies, these spots are the back, sides of face, neck & tops of the ears. It is important to make sure that the sunscreen is broad spectrum (protecting against both UVA &UVB rays). In addition, it is important that products are fragrance free, non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores), oil free, paraben free and a SPF of 30 or higher.
At CMA Medicine we carry a variety of sunscreens and other skin care products. We have specialized treatments to treat patients with past sun damage and pigmentation. We look at each individuals specific needs and create customized treatment plans to achieve their ultimate goals.