Top Sunscreen Secrets

Even though we at Maine Laser Skin Care always advocate wearing sunscreen every day, the official onset of summer prompts us to up the ante on our skin care education.  During the summer months in the northern hemisphere, the earth is tilted closer to the sun, resulting in warmer weather and increased intensity of ultraviolet radiation.

Therefore, during the summer especially, it doesn't matter whether it is cloudy or rainy, or even if you plan to be inside all day.  Regardless, you need to wear your sunscreen.

90% of the aging changes that occur on the skin, especially the facial skin, are from the damage the sun causes.  The sun's rays actively create changes in a person's pigmentation, skin texture, and act to break down collagen.

Protect the prime real estate of your face by wearing a high quality broad spectrum sunscreen.  Modern day sunscreens are formulated to provide maximum protection, but only work if you apply them to your skin!

There are actually two types of ultraviolet light about which to be concerned.  You need to protect yourself from them both.

UVA is the longer wavelength of ultraviolet light.  As a result, it penetrates deeper into the dermis, or foundation layer, of your skin.

When you are not protected from UVA by not wearing sunscreen, you will experience an accelerated loss of collagen from its damage, resulting in more fine lines and wrinkles.  Think of UVA as the Aging wavelength.

UVB is a shorter wavelength, and affects more on the skin's surface.  Because UVB does not penetrate the skin as deeply as UVA, this part of the ultraviolet spectrum is responsible for all the abnormal pigmentation changes in your skin, including sunburns.

Over many years of exposure, these changes make the skin look older and weathered.  When you think of UVB, think Burns.

Granted, the sun is important for many aspects of human health.  Our circadian rhythm is obviously dependent on our eyes seeing light from the sun to signal our brains when it is best to get up in the morning and to release melatonin to help us sleep at night.

Vitamin D production in the body is also stimulated by sun exposure.  Studies have shown that even with the use of sunscreen, our bodies need only about 30 minutes of sun exposure per day to signal the right amount of vitamin D production.

In addition, especially now at the beginning of the summer, there is no such thing as a protective base tan.  This is a particularly terrible idea if you use a tanning salon to get your "base tan".

Tanning bed use has been proven to accelerate skin aging and predispose you to developing skin cancer.  We have said it before, and we'll say it again: avoid tanning beds at all costs!

When applying your sunscreen, make sure you are using enough.  For the face, approximately one-three teaspoonsful is needed to be applied evenly for full coverage.

For the rest of your body, a shotglass-sized amount is considered the most adequate.  Also, it is best to apply sunscreen both to the face and body 30 minutes before going out into the sun.

The best sunscreens that we recommend are what are called "physical sunscreens," in that they create a physical barrier on the skin to reflect the UVA and UVB rays away from the skin.  These generally use finely-ground minerals such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide and are considered safer.  The mineral or physical sunscreens are not absorbed into the skin or into your bloodstream.

At our offices and online, we carry high-quality sunscreens from Skinceuticals (Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50) as well as our private label line of Daily Replenishing SPF 30+ and Ultra Replenishing SPF 40 sunscreens.

These are all lightly tinted and broad spectrum, and we at Maine Laser Skin Care use them daily.  Check them out online, or call either our Augusta office at (207) 873-2158, or our Scarborough office at (207) 303-0125 to order.