This is a guest post by freelance writer and blogger Nadia Jones. Nadia enjoys sharing her knowledge on topics of education and higher learning.
No matter where you’re going this summer season, it’s time to think about protecting skin from the sun before ever stepping foot outside. The only problem is, when you’re on vacation, it can be difficult to remain active, have fun, and still make sure your skin makes it out undamaged on the other end. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to stay protected and still be on track for an effortless vacation beauty routine. Even if you pack nothing else except a bathing suit, throw these five products in your bag first.
1. A Natural Sunscreen
The EWG (Environmental Working Group) recommends zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as active ingredients. Most sunscreens go on completely clear and they are great for a day at the beach or poolside, you can keep it with you and reapply every hour or so.
Look for an SPF 15 lip balm with a yummy mix of sunflower seed oil, beeswax, Shea butter, coconut oil, aloe, almond oil for moisture, combined with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide for sun protection. This is perfect for everyday protection alone or under glosses and lipsticks.
3. SPF Moisturizer
Opt for a lightweight moisturizer that can be worn alone or under makeup. This is a must-have to pop in your bag and reapply on makeup free days. Again look for an SPF of 30. Apply this before any other product, every day of your vacation.
4. SPF Concealer
When you want a little extra coverage but don’t want to skimp on SPF protection, a concealer is a great product that gives you both. Use a thin layer for light coverage for the whole face, mix it with your moisturizer, or pack it on more heavily for added coverage around the eyes or over blemishes. You can also add a bit to your SPF moisturizer to create a slightly tinted cream.
5. Translucent Powder
This is a great way to take your sunscreen with you throughout the day, even if you’re wearing makeup. A translucent SPF powder formula can be applied anywhere. You can do your makeup and lightly apply this over the top. It’s also great for hands, décolletage, and anywhere else the sun hits.Twitter It!
I love summer, but not because of the heat and humidity rather because I get to go to the beach and swim. With skin like mine, I have to be careful and so a protective swimming shirt, hat and 30+ micronized zinc sunscreen are absolute essentials for me. Even then I don’t go to the beach between 10am and 2pm. Despite the preparation, I still manage to develop a new crop of freckles each year. Now freckles I don’t mind but sun damage and more permanent skin pigmentation I do so there are strategies I incorporate in my daily skin care regimen and ingredients I look for in my skin care and sunscreen that help to manage and prevent the likelihood of both.
Firstly and most importantly, the regular use of SPF products is critical. Research completed in September 2011 (Diffey BL, J Cosmet Dermatol) evaluated the effect of daily application of topical photo-protective products and its effect on facial photo-aging (skin aging due to sun damage). The results show that regular use of topical photo-protective agents (SPF sunscreens) significantly reduces the lifetime exposure to UV. While this may seem logical interestingly, the SPF rating was of lesser importance that beginning regular use early in life. IN addition many only use an SPF product in the summer months and this study identified that year-round use was preferable. To sum up this research, start early and use an SPF product daily.
Some plant ingredients have shown a good protective effect against UV damage and erythema, which is skin reddening, coupled with inflammation. Human studies suggest that green tea polyphenols in particular are photo-protective in nature, and can be used as topical agents for the prevention of solar UVB light-induced skin disorders including photo-aging and potentially non-melanoma skin cancers. Use as a preventative for non-melanoma skin cancers requires more clinical trials in humans to confirm ongoing efficacy.
In addition to its skin protective effects, green tea also has good antioxidant activity as well as and ability to slow skin matrix degradation which leads to wrinkles and loss of firmness. White tea shows similar protective and skin rejuvenation effects. The fern polypdium leucotomos has also shown a photo-aging protective effect however this is less widely used in skincare than green tea.
When it comes to skin lightening and reduction of pigmentation, there are good ingredients and some that are not so good. The use of hydroquinone, which was the standard prescription for skin lightening, has become controversial due to its potential long-term consequences including a potential cancer causing effect when consumed orally. This has lead researchers to look at new skin lightening ingredients particularly for those with mild to moderate skin pigmentation. One study completed in 2010 (Draelos ZD, Yatskayer M, Bhushan P, et al, Cutis) compared a 4% hydroquinone cream with a topical formulation containing the herbal ingredients kojic acid, emblica extract and glycolic acid from sugar cane. Eight participants used either the herbal formulation or the hydroquinone cream twice daily for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, results showed that the herbal preparation was just as effective as the hydroquinone cream. Other studies have showed similar results with either one or a number of herbal skin lightening ingredients.
It is important to note that the clinical trials are conducted over a 12-week period as skin cell turnover takes approximately 90-120 days, which means the new non-pigmented skin cells take this long to emerge. If you choose to try a skin lightening cream or serum to manage pigmentation, be aware that it will take time so don’t expect overnight results.
So apart from the “slip, slop, slap” routine (for non-Australians this is translated as “slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat”), these measures mean that despite living in Queensland I can be sure I am doing the best to prevent progressive sun damage and minimize sun cancer risk.
My product recommendations:
Daily Sun Protection
Following on from my last update, I had the two BCCs removed from my face about a month ago. I decided to get them cut out rather than use Black Salve (otherwise known as Cansema). I would probably have tried the Cansema had the BCCs been on my body but I felt a bit precious about risking this on my face as this product does have a risk of keloid and non-surgical scarring. So to surgery I went. I must say the whole process was simple but unsettling. I felt very relieved the cancers were cut out but at the same time wondered why they formed in the first place particularly as I have spent my life being careful to minimise sun exposure. Even more unnerving was the thought that more may develop.
Well its now a month later and the scars have healed up. I am applying all the good things including TSB Skin Smoother at night and Minerelle Vitamin C in jojoba oil (this product is in testing at this stage but due online very soon). I really think it has made a significant difference but due to the face the scars are on my face, I was not prepared to leave one without treatment as a placebo. No, I am far to vain for that level of dedication! Now that they have healed I have stopped worrying about more developing – I do all that I can to prevent them – wear natural sunscreen (Devita Solar Body Block when out in the full sun and Devita Solar Protective Moisturiser during the day), wear a hat, eat good food (most of the time) and generally look after myself but if anyone has any other ideas I would love to hear them. PS I am also using my phone as a hands free just in case it had anything to do with the development of the BCCs.
The photos below show the healing process to date.
Yesterday a regular client came in with a gorgeous sunkissed look. Normally paler than me, she said that she had used and was now addicted to Lavera Sunless Self Tanner. There were no streak marks nor that orange tone that is common with the very pale using self tanner. I thought she looked great and may even try it myself!
Lavera Sunless Self Tanner is based on two natural ingredients, vegetable-derived DHA (Dihydroxyactone) and the sugar agent Erythrulose react with the amino acids of the skin, resulting in a brownish tint of the pigment. This reaction is completely harmless and a safe alternative to chemical tanners. This unaltered photo shows a smooth, natural tan develop on the right arm only 3 hours after initial application, compared to the untreated left arm. As with all Lavera products, our self tanners are certified natural by the BDIH, contain organic ingredients and are free of parabens and other synthetic ingredients.
I found these product reviews about Lavera Sunless Self Tanner:Twitter It!
Whoops! I promised I would post the remainder of Tess Dingle’s ND informative article about sunscreens and haven’t until now. The second half of this article really gets into the nitty-gritty of sunscreen ingredients. This means that you will know what you are looking at when you read the chemical names on the back of a sunscreen bottle and more importantly which of those are good, bad or downright ugly! Useful information indeed!
The second half of this article looks at some sunscreen agents commonly in use:
Octyl Methoxycinnamate and other cinnamates cause photo and contact allergy and do not effectively block UVA. We must ask, what is the point of using a sunscreen agent that causes allergy in the presence of sunlight?
Benzophenones/oxybenzone/benzoylmethanes do absorb some UVA radiation but have been found to cause photo/contact allergy and most significantly, they tend to imitate and therefore exacerbate existing skin disease (including acne).
Titanium dioxide effectively blocks out UVA radiation and therefore protects against skin cancer. Although this is also a photon scattering agent (UV reflector), it does absorb UV radiation which produces free radicals in the presence of water. Many manufacturers use different methods to “coat” the particles, making them less reactive.
Salicylates commonly cause photo allergy.
PABA (Paramino benzoic acid) is part of the B group of vitamins. Taken internally, it can help prevent UV damage. Used externally, it causes phototoxicity and sensitisation. PABA generates free radicals when exposed to sunlight, predisposing the skin to cancer. It does not effectively block UVA radiation. It is banned as a sunscreen agent in Australia.
Zinc oxide effectively blocks out UVA radiation, has the benefit of being inert on the skin (it does not absorb UV radiation) and has skin healing properties. It does, however, contain large particles and can form a paste when applied to the skin. The finer the zinc particles, the less visible they are on the skin. Micronised superfine zinc is the best choice for minimizing the “paste-effect” without resorting to nanoparticles.
Iron oxide is found naturally in mineral clays, which have an ochre colour due to the ferrous (iron) content. Due to the large particle size, iron oxide also acts as a UV reflector and is inert in the sun (does not produce free radicals). Natural mineral clays also contain varying proportions of other UV protectors such as titania.
It must also be noted that this discussion of the active constituents in sunscreens is academic without paying respect to the ingredients in the carrier or base formulation. Do they cause free radical damage themselves and in particular, how well do they stand up to sun exposure?
There are instances of people using sunscreens who have reacted to the excipients (base materials/carriers) included in the formulation, such as preservatives, fragrances and emulsifiers, which have caused contact allergies. So there is cause for concern not only about the active ingredients in sunscreens, but about the inert ingredients as well. Ed note: I don’t know about anyone else but standard sunscreens make my eyes sting and water particularly after swimming in the surf. I worked out that for me, it is probably the product fragrance that is causing this effect. In any case, it has been a long time since I have used a conventional sunscreen as I prefer to stick to zinc oxide based products.
There are a number of base ingredients to look for such as antioxidant vitamins C and E at effective concentrations. Vitamins C and E (tocopherol) are known to protect against skin cancer, particularly when applied topically as they prevent free radical damage from UV radiation. Certified organic shea butter, sesame and avocado oils have natural UV protective qualities, primarily due to their vitamin A and E content. Shea butter also protects against burning (UVB radiation) and is an excellent emollient, softening the skin and preventing the formation of wrinkles. Aloe vera, a plant which has been shown to prevent DNA damage to the skin following sun exposure and its use in treating burns of all descriptions is well-known and an excellent inclusion as a base ingredient. Antioxidant medicinal strength herbal extracts of ginkgo biloba, green tea and pomegranate are also excellent for their ability to protect against DNA damage from UV radiation.
A tan is something I have never been able to achieve. By contrast, my Mum tans so easily and for many years I desperately wished I had skin like hers…ahhh, in my dreams! The reality for me is that I will never tan and in some ways I have a lot to be thankful for. My sun consciousness has ensured that now in my late 30′s I have relatively little permanent sun damage despite living under a massive hole in the ozone layer! I am still amazed when I go to the beach and see people baking themselves and think that in some ways we have a long way to go before we get the balance between enough sun for vitamin D and too much right. This article by Tisha Dotson outlines some of the dangers of sun baking and tanning beds.
It’s interesting how fashions cycle over time. For the past several years, sporting a shade of perfectly tanned skin is the aesthetic ideal to which all who want to have the “look” aspire. This Mediterranean, olive-toned shade is natural for some, but for those of fairer mien, the look is acquired by tanning–either staying out in the sun for the express purpose of achieving darker skin or going to the even more harmful tanning bed salons.
As most of us know, excess tanning has a detrimental effect on the skin. But just how bad is it? Here are some facts to remind us all of what we risk by attempting to achieve a tanned look for the sake of fitting into a beauty standard.
1. Healthy Tanning?
Even though we would like to think that tans are not as bad for our skin as sun burn, the facts still stands that when you tan, the sun’s rays are still attacking the skin’s DNA, which drastically increases the risk for developing skin cancer. Ed note: A glowing tan is something that many Australians aspire to but in reality you are best to learn to love the colour of skin you were born with. There is no such thing as healthy tanning, however, if you plan to be out in the sun this summer, slowly introducing your skin to the sun is a good idea. Sun exposure in the early mornings and late afternoons allows your skin to gradually build up some colour and get sufficient vitamin D without burning. Twenty minutes is enough time. Remember by the time your skin starts to feel hot, it is already burnt.
2. Tanning booths are even worse than sun tanning.
Recently, the United States government went so far as to impose a tax on tanning salons. Why such drastic measures in a country that is usually lax on imposing government measures on business? This is simply because tanning salons, although they advertise as safe, controlled exposure to UV rays, are in fact far more damaging to your skin than tanning out in the sun. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the chances of occasional tanning booth users getting melanoma rose by 300%, while those who frequented tanning beds more then ten times a year heightened their risk by a whopping 800%.
3. The ageing effect
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the number of wrinkles you have later in life are directly determined by how much sun you’ve been exposed to. Aside from genetics and smoking, UV rays are the main culprit in premature aging of the skin.Twitter It!
Well I don’t know about you but as the weather warms up in Brisbane I have started to feel the burn from the sun again. As one with very pale and easily burnt skin, this is not a pleasant sensation and so I have been reaching for the sunscreen bottle with greater frequency. Unfortunately there is so much misconception and misinformation surrounding sunscreens, nanoparticles, SPF and UV absorbers and blockers so by way of explaination, the next few blogs will address these issues. This by article Tess Dingle ND goes a long way towards this purpose:
There is much misinformation and hype surrounding the topic of suntanning, burning, cancer and sunscreens. In this issue we will attempt to decode the catchphrases and steer you in the right direction.
The most obvious and important issue is that in Australia we enjoy a climate which sends us outdoors for much of the year and we are living under one of the thinnest sections of the earth’s protective ozone layer. It is well established that the UV radiation that beats down on us is harsher and more direct than in many other parts of the world. So what is this UV radiation and what are its effects?
UV or ultraviolet radiation is classified into three different wavelengths of light. Two of these wavelengths, referred to as UVA and UVB radiation, affect our skin. UVC radiation is largely absorbed by gases in the Earth’s atmosphere and does not reach our skin. While both UVA and UVB can cause DNA changes within the layers of our skin, it is predominantly UVA which causes the most common forms of skin cancer (melanomas) and accelerates the visible signs of aging. UVB predominantly causes burning. The purpose of a sunscreen is (or should be!) to
reduce the severity of UVA and UVB affecting our skin negatively (sunlight is also constructive for several biochemical processes, including our production of vitamin D and the regulation of our sleep – or circadian rhythm – obviously, it was once natural to spend time in the sun).
However, not all sunscreens achieve this. When you buy sunscreen you most likely look for the SPF number (Sun Protection Factor), but what does this number refer to? It indicates the length of time you can stay in the sun without burning relative to your normal burn time if you apply the sunscreen first. For example, if you would normally burn after one hour of exposure to sunlight and the SPF of the sunscreen you are using is 15, then technically you can stay in the sun for 15 hours before burning. This can be incredibly misleading. It means that the sunscreen guarantees to block out UVB radiation 15 times no protection but in fact there are no guarantees regarding UVA radiation, ie. radiation that causes melanoma.
Ed note: There is some confusion about the difference between say a 15 or 30 SPF rating and in the US even a 50 SPF rating. A higher SPF doesn’t necessarily mean better protection. To explain:
SPF 8-15: Is sufficient to give your skin ideal protection against the harmful effects of light for normal exposure to the sun like at home, at the office, in the city, day to day errands, but the more sun you are exposed to (an entire day at the beach, for instance) the higher the SPF should be to give your skin optimal protection. Higher than SPF 30 only jumps up 1-2% and no sunscreen give you complete protection.
If you feel safe staying in the sun for longer and there is no protection against UVA radiation in the sunscreen, skin cancer risk could be 15 times higher than normal. Queensland has the highest incidence of skin cancers in the world. Have we all been misled by the sunscreen marketing?
According to the American Food and Drug Administration website, no system yet exists to rate UVA protection. You must also reapply sunscreens after sweating or swimming unless the product states “water resistant”, meaning the SPF stands even after exposure to water.
So let’s look at the sunscreen ingredients themselves. Generally, sunscreen ingredients are divided into their modes of activity. They are either UV absorbers or UV reflectors or have a combined action. UV absorbers physically contain the UV radiation to stop it from reaching our skin. In this process, the active particles become energised to a higher energetic level (or frequency) to contain the UV radiation. This is the key to the problems with this type of sunscreen ingredient.
When UV exposure reduces (when you come out of the sun), the energetic level of the sunscreen particles drops to their former frequency, releasing energy again. The energy is released into the epidermis of your skin where it can then cause changes to the DNA, predisposing the skin to cancer.
UV reflectors work by scattering UV light so it cannot penetrate the skin. Generally, this process depends on the physical size of the sunscreen particles. Hence, application of these ingredients is usually thicker and opaque. It is the UV reflectors which are most effective at blocking UVA radiation. The possible downside of UV reflectors, apart from (or because of) the thick application necessary is that they tend to plug the pores of the skin which can produce miliaria, a consequence of blocked sweat glands. Due to both modes of action, all sunscreens need to be washed from the skin thoroughly once you have come out of the sun.
The next blog will identify which sunscreen agents are commonly in use and how to assess them. Below is a videoblog that covers off some of the issues above as well at looking at some other common issues with sunscreens:
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