Getting to the Bottom of Sun Protection

As the days continue to get longer, I often get questions from my clients what type of sun protection they should use. Sun damage is no laughing matter. You often don’t know you’ve traumatized your skin so much until you’re older, after all those days out on the water, the golf course or the beach have taken their toll.

Navigating the world of sun protection is getting more confusing than ever, however. Long gone are the days when a simple application of zinc-oxide on your nose or an application of Bullfrog will do the job. The beauty industry, however, has made sun protection WAY more complicated than it needs to be, blurring lines between mineral, chemical and physical applications. Which is safer, which is most effective, and how do any of these apply to you?

We can classify sunscreens into two categories based on the type of UV filters contained within them. The first is organic (strangely, enough, referred to as “chemical”) and the second is inorganic (“mineral”) and end in “-zones”, “-ates”, and “-enes.” Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing and converting UV light into heat within the skin.

As for the “mineral” filters (products that end in  “-ide”, such as Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide) are metal oxides that don’t contain carbon, but are composed of metal and oxygen. They serve as physical blockers that sit on top of the skin and scatter or reflect UV light. Think lifeguards with white cream smeared all over their noses.

Bottom line?  ALL skincare ingredients, including UV filters, are “chemicals.” Misguided classification systems in the beauty industry are rampant, and contrary to popular belief – while “mineral” or “physical” sunscreens are often perceived as more “natural” – mineral UV filters may need to be processed and coated before their application in a sunscreen formulation to improve stability, dispersion, and overall performance. Personally, I prefer Zinc Oxide and titanium dioxide as they are barriers. Much has evolved over the years and by making them micronized or nanoparticles so they are so tiny that mixed with a little tint they can blend seamlessly into your skin. However, because they are micronized, it is recommended that you not wear them if swimming in or around coral reefs, as they can damage nature.

As we head into summer it is important to use a good sunscreen everyday to protect your skin from the increasing intensity of the sun’s rays. Reapplication every 80-90 minutes is key, especially for a chemical sunscreen. After you sweat or get out of the water, you should re-apply. While mineral sunscreens are less likely to cause a stinging sensation, irritation, or an allergic reaction, chemical sunscreens work for all skin tones since they don’t leave a white cast. 

Products I recommend include Lira’s Solar Shield 30 Oil Free as a complete daily moisturizer, Solar Shield 30 Hydrating Daily Moisturizer, and Lira’s BB Tint if a glow is what you’re after while protecting your skin. All of these offer zinc oxide, stem cell technology, and broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection. 

Skin protection? Just do it. Your skin is your body’s largest organ and is exposed to the elements every single day. For more information on sun protection as well as remediating the damage/premature aging it has already caused, give me a call for a skin evaluation and facial pampering.


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