With the introduction to our debut of The Sun Chronicles Part 1, we were left with a clear understanding of the differences between sunblocks and sunscreens, and the terrifying truth of UVA rays. This next segment, in continuing Skin Cancer Awareness Month, we will pinpoint the key differences to note and truly know between UVA and UVB rays.
Beginning with the UVA rays, Jacque and Rachael state that they are “the longer waves”. Rachael seriously notes that “they penetrate all the way down to the basal cell level, causing cellular mutations, exhibited as non cancerous growths, loss of collagen, thinning of the skin, hyperpigmentation, and of course, most serious, cancerous growths.” Brandi agrees, that while “UVA rays may not show up immediately, they can be the most damaging.” Remember, this is what sunscreens are not covering against. So, what are they doing? The UVB rays are “short waves, strongest between 1-4pm” says Jacque. Brandi adds that “UVB are your burning rays. These rays make you sunburned, they are more associated with damage to the epidermis.” Rachael explains that the shorter rays “strike the skin, and bounce off – causing more surface damage.”
So, this makes sense. When we use sunscreens, and O.T.C products, they are halfway effective, because they are geared to screen out UVB rays, when we use them and don’t get a sunburn, we think what we are using is 100% successful, because we can’t see the damage that’s happening at the cellular level.
Whats your response when you hear this phrase for people not wanting to bite the bullet and purchase a sun protectant? “I’m afraid that my skin will be oily or I will break out if I wear sunblock. And I’m pretty sure my makeup has an spf in it.” While it seems like a pretty common excuse, or misconception, Jacque begins this discussion with the facts that “makeup rarely has the right percentages – professional lines won’t clog pores, titanium dioxide is a tiny non clogging molecule.” Titanium Dioxide? (We’ll get to that word in a moment, and why it is imperative that you are on a first name basis with it.) “This is where consulting with your esthetician is invaluable. She can help a client pick out UV protection suitable for [their] skin type. As far as sunscreen in makeups, it’s a step in the right direction, however, it’s not best to rely on makeup as sun protectant. The active ingredient may not offer broad spectrum protection, and the coverage of UV exposure becomes compromised.” finishes Rachael K.
Besides, everything these days O.T.C says that it’s “Noncomodogenic”, but what that actually means from a consumer standpoint may shock you…
Essentially, the term “noncomodogenic” means it “won’t clog pores”, while Brandi states that this doesn’t necessarily “have anything to do with sun protection” Rachael reminds us that it is something to be weary of if it’s a concern for you purchasing anything you put on your face. She let’s us in on the daunting stats here that “nonprofessional products throw around the term “non comodogenic” rather loosely. In order for a manufacturer to be able to label a product “non-comodogenic”, it must show that the product doesn’t clog pores in only 50% of their test cases.”
Yes, we’re serious.
“…that means the product DID clog pores in the other 50%. That’s just not good enough. Professional grade products hold themselves to much higher standards.” Which leads us to a starting point. Now that we know the difference between UVA and UVB rays, and what they actually do to us, as well as the difference between sunscreens and sunblocks; what key ingredients should we be looking for? The answers are the same across the board for all of our Estheticians, “zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.”
These minerals occur naturally in the earth, and provide the only broad spectrum protection against both types of rays. So, with the knowledge of the key ingredients we should be looking for, What red flags pop up when you hear people say “Well, I’m great about my skin now, I mean I wear a sunblock that is spf 50….” Jacque makes it very clear that the “SPF number has nothing to do with amount of protection from rays. The percentage of ingredients (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) are the only way to tell effectiveness.” Brandi further explains that “usually over SPF 25 isn’t that significant. They make these high levels of SPF because the consumer thinks that is what will protect them the most. The percentage of what is in the block is most important.” Rachael indicates that sometimes the number of SPF is not that simple when you are evaluating the sunprotection that you currently use, she states “my questions will always be, what are the active ingredients? Is it micronized? How much is the client applying? How often is it reapplied? Keep in mind, it takes a teaspoon of sunblock to cover the face, neck and decollete (a strip about the length of the thumb) and all the UV protection breaks down in the UV light after 90 minutes or so.”
Lastly, what’s the big secret with Vitamin C? Our Medical Estheticians at AZIZ let us in on this not-so-little secret, Brandi starts with the explanation that “Vitamin C is an antioxidant product that should be used prior to applying your sun protectant. It fights off free radicals and pollution. It also, as a major bonus, increases the effectiveness of your sunblock by a large percentage. It gives the skin a bit of a glow as well as protection. It can help reduce some pigmentation, but I usually recommend it as a boost to your sunblock. It has some evidence to reduce capillary damage and aid in healing prior to sun damage.”
Intrigued? So are we.
Following up on what exactly Vitamin C is doing to our skin behind-the-scenes is Rachael with her reaffirmation that “vitamin C is a multi-tasking antioxidant when applied topically to the skin. It will build collagen, strengthen capillary walls, and brighten hyper-pigmentation. It also stops the formation of thymine dimers (a precursor to sun damage) in the skin. Meaning it runs behind sunblocks, shooting down what gets through the sunblock. However, not all C’s are created equal. In order for the skin to use a C as an antioxidant, it must be stabilized and it must be L-ascorbic, meaning the C has been tweaked in the lab so that all the molecules are spinning to the left. it’s important to check the active ingredients for this very reason.”
With so many differences to note and understand between the type of rays we are coming in contact with, it can get frustrating to realize that once we, as consumers, are savvy enough to look for products that are non-comodogenic; the advertisements are one step ahead with the mostly unknown regulations of test statistics need to be garnered to put that type of claim on their products. Take heart in the shared secret of topical Vitamin C, and tune in with us next week for our final installment of The Sun Chronicles as we close the month of May; better prepared for the long summer months ahead.