I’m passionate about sun safety, and I hear so often from friends that they don’t need sunscreen because they don’t get sunburn. Though I can tell them why they are wrong and why they need sunscreen even if they don’t burn, today I’m bringing in the big guns to drive this point home for me.
Dr. Justin Piasecki is a foremost skin cancer expert who founded The Skin Cancer Center, and he’s here to share why, even if you never burn, you should be wearing sunscreen.
Do I Need Sunscreen if I Don’t Sunburn?
Just because you aren’t getting a sunburn while in the sun, doesn’t mean your skin isn’t being injured. Sunlight is radiation, and radiation causes cancer. Skin cancer – the most common human cancer of all cancers – is caused by cumulative exposure to UVA and UVB radiation over many years.
This is regardless of sunburns. Sunscreen helps decrease overall exposure, and you should wear it every single day.
A common misconception is that if you put sunscreen on once in the morning, you now possess a “get out of jail free” card and have a license to run around all day without any ill effects. The truth is that sunscreen only blocks out some of the radiation, but not all.
Daily Sunscreen Habits:
Now for the big picture perspective: despite the fact that I treat skin cancer, I don’t recommend that you dive behind a bush every time the sun comes out. Life is best lived active and outdoors. That being said, you’ll have more life to enjoy if you don’t get skin cancer, and that means don’t ignore common sense.
You will need to protect your skin from the sun, and the best way to do that is with sunscreen. The best sunscreen on the market is the one you’ll actually put on your skin – there is no scientifically proven best sunscreen, so choose one that is affordable, comfortable, and convenient for your lifestyle.
The criteria to look for in sunscreen is SPF of 30 or greater, and “broad spectrum” protection which indicates coverage of both UVA and UVB radiation.
Sunscreen also needs to be reapplied every 2-3 hours or after getting out of the water from swimming (many are water-resistant, but none are towel resistant). This is because the active ingredients when exposed to sunlight become deactivated by the radiation after 120-180 minutes and no longer work.
I realize it’s not practical to reapply sunscreen to your entire body every 2-3 hours if you are hiking, so consider sun-safe clothing (look for UPF (UV protection factor) of 50), or at least consider one of the several brands of wash-in SPF powder that can be added to a load of laundry and make your clothing a UPF of 30 (the average clothing on the market only has a UPF of 5).
There are several iPhone apps too which permit you to enter a zipcode or will even track you with GPS to give you a UV index forecast for your location and recommend specific sunscreen regimens specific to your location and/or when to simply avoid being outside. You can also wear a sun exposure monitor that will let you know when you have been in the sun too long.
Foods That Protect Skin:
There are also several foods that are not only helpful in protecting the skin from the sun but improve the health and appearance of it also. Specifically, those that contain vitamin E, flavanols, selenium, folate, vitamin C, vitamin A, and omega 3 fatty acids are all great in that regard. If you’re out all day, a helpful trail mix recipe that contains the recommended daily allowance of all of these (and is fantastic both for an active day with respect to energy, and is convenient to carry/store) is: ½ cup dark chocolate chips, 1 cup sunflower seeds, 1 cup walnuts, 1.5 cups of dried apricots.
If you do get sunburn despite following all of the above tips, treat symptoms initially with aspirin, cool compresses, and moisture (aloe or 100% Tamanu oil) to facilitate healing.
Who is Dr. Piasecki? The Most Beautiful Doctor in America (named in 2013 by “The Doctors” TV show), Dr. Justin Piasecki, is much more than a handsome face; he is the foremost skin cancer expert, pioneer of the revolutionary “Plastic Micrographic Surgery,” and one of a handful of surgeons in the world certified in both Cosmetic Reconstruction & the Mohs Micrographic Surgery, a procedure that removes skin cells until only cancer-free tissue remains. Dr. Piasecki’s Plastic Micrographic Surgery is the most effective, cost/time-efficient, and convenient approach to skin cancer care in the world, and after his recent national guest spots on “The Doctors,” Hallmark’s “Home & Family,” and “Dr. Oz,” Dr. Piasecki is quickly becoming America’s #1 Skincare Doctor and the “go-to” expert for all sun safety, skin cancer prevention, and skincare needs.
Sunscreen Effectiveness – Sunscreen Consumers May Be Getting Burned
Is your sunscreen adequate sun protection? One consumer advocacy group has questioned sunscreen effectiveness.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit agency whose objective is to protect public health and the environment. According to the EWG, four out of five sunscreens are either ineffective or contain unsafe ingredients.
The EWG scrutinized more than 900 sunscreen products. Sunscreens were evaluated for their effectiveness against both UVA and UVB rays, and contains only active ingredients that remained stable in sunlight and were deemed safe by the group.
Only 15% of the sunscreens tested met the EWG’s standards.
Some of the EWG’s top picks:
- Blue Lizard products, without oxybenzone
- California Baby SPF 30 or above
- CVS with zinc oxide
- Jason Natural Cosmetics Sunbrellas Mineral Based Sunblock
- Kiss My Face “Paraben Free” series
- Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunblock
- Olay Defense Daily UV Moisturizer
- SkinCeuticals Physical UV Defense
- Solar Sense Clear Zinc for Face
- Walgreens Zinc Oxide for Face, Nose, & Ears
If you believe the big brands offer the best protection, the EWG says think again. Some of the biggest names in sunscreen, like Coppertone and Banana Boat, were also some of the worst offenders. And just to add to the confusion, different products from the same brand may have vastly different scores. For instance, Neutrogena’s sensitive skin sunblock received high marks for sun protection, while other Neutrogena were labeled ineffective.
But sunscreen manufacturers take issue with the EWG’s findings and are standing by their products. They assure the public that all products are rigorously tested for safety efficacy, and approved are by both scientists and dermatologists alike.
The greatest problem lies in that many sunscreens only protect against UVB rays, the rays that cause sunburn, but don’t provide any protection against UVA rays. UVA rays don’t burn the skin, but they do cause sun damage, wrinkles, and skin discoloration (age or liver spots). It’s thought UVA rays also are responsible for causing skin cancer.
The SPF rating system, first implemented in the 1970’s, is only a measure of protection against UVB rays. So it’s possible to have sunscreen with a high SPF but still not get any protection from UVA rays. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is working on upgrading these standards.
Many skincare professionals are afraid that, because of this controversy, people may stop using sunscreen altogether. And with all the confusion, it’s easy to wonder if your sunscreen is really doing you any good. The American Academy of Dermatology hasn’t changed its recommendation to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day. So, don’t forgo the sunscreen! Instead, look for products that offer protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
Daily sunscreen use is especially important if you are using acne medications that make your skin more sensitive to the sun. For acne-prone skin types, use only noncomedogenic or non-acnegenic products. And remember to reapply often, especially after sweating or swimming.
The best tip is to read labels, carefully select your products, and apply your sunscreen correctly. These simple actions will help keep your skin happy and healthy.
A Makeup Artist’s Guide To Avoiding Sunburn – Avoid Sunburn With This Simple Guide
Avoid sunburn with my easy makeup artist’s guide on how to protect your skin and still get color over the summer months!
Whether you’re going on vacation or just a way to the beach for a day, it’s imperative in these summer months you take care of and protect your skin. While we all know UV rays can be damaging on many levels, the most important thing to remember is daily prevention. Here’s my makeup artist’s guide to avoiding sunburn that will keep you cool and comfortable all summer long:
1. Apply SPF In the Nude. You heard me.
Strip down and apply it everywhere before putting on your bathing suit to ensure you don’t miss any spots that could be potential for sunburn. It’s how you can avoid awkward burn lines and cover all your bases.
Top Product Pick: Sun Bum Original Sunscreen Lotion
2. Wear a Higher SPF on Your Face. If you’re someone who wants to really protect your face from the sun (as you should) applying a high SPF like 50 or 60 will keep rays and wrinkles away.
Applying this every day before your makeup is a great way to protect yourself daily and is a very easy habit to form. Just making this small change can make a world of difference for you and your skin.
Top Product Picks: La Roche Posay Anthelios 50 Tinted Mineral Face Sunscreen
3. Fake It ‘Til You Bake It. While most of us can get some good color from the sun, the safest way is to use a self-tanner that will give you natural-looking color without turning orange. Since I’m fair, it took me years to find the right self-tanner, and once I did, I started using it constantly and recommending it to clients of all skin tones and types. Get your color from a bottle and continue to lather on the SPF to ensure you get the best of both worlds.
Top Product Pick: St. Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Mousse