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Sunscreen Puzzlement!

We are now in the throes of Summer 2011 and our Las Vegas heat is reminding everyone to finally think about what our intense sun is actually doing to our skin! It is way past time to think about sun block.

Sun protection is, however, one of the least understood principles in beauty care and I am always shocked at how casual even highly beauty-aware women are about sun protection. (and most men don’t even want to hear about it!).

First of all, sun exposure causes 90% of all of the skin changes that we label aging. That includes patchy pigmentation, skin looseness, crepey texture and wrinkling! Use of proper sunscreen protection is (as I have said so many times…) the least expensive and most effective anti-aging cream available!

Everyone needs to wear a sunscreen when spending any time at all outdoors during the day (even in the car!). For anyone with beginning or advancing skin changes, consider at least 25-35 SPF daily under your foundation makeup (if you wear it). Some of the new tinted sunscreens can even out your skin tone a bit and you may not need that foundation for casual daily wear. (I love the weightless “serum” texture of SkinCeuticals® Physical Fusion UV Defense 50 SPF in universal tint…and it is “chemical free”-great for sensitive skin like mine). Most foundation has SPF of 7 or 8 (not quite enough protection) but if you think about it…is your makeup still in place all day?

A little known problem with Sunscreens is that they lose their effectiveness after being on your skin for several hours especially if they are exposed to sun and have to “do their job”. Sun breaks down the chemicals so that they are no longer a reliable and effective block. Even if you can still feel the sunscreen on your face (for example) it may no longer be protecting you. Blot and RE-APPLY every couple of hours especially if you are engaging in outdoor activities.

And if you are going to be outdoors: keeping cool in the pool, boating on Lake Mead or just strolling around an outdoor shopping center, consider the extra protection of 50-70 SPF for that little extra edge of security.

Remember one important fact: if you tan or your skin tone darkens, you have gotten enough sun damage to cause your skin to “turn on” its protective darkening mechanism to try to prevent additional damage. Whether outdoors in the sun or indoors in a tanning bed, tanning is evidence that you have damaged your skin! (!!!!)

That’s the 411 on sunscreens in a nutshell…

If you would like to know more facts on keeping your skin safe or what you can do to help your skin back to its original state please feel free to contact out office!

Keep cool and protected!
Dr. H

Dr. Mary C. Herte is Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and is Medical Director of the Herte Center for Cosmetic Surgery in Las Vegas.