Sunscsreen - The good, the bad and the truth

These days I find one of the most controversial topics around skin care centred on the debate related to sunscreen.

Here we are in summer and what to do? Well, here are my personal thoughts and they are by no means academic or physician-centred recommendations, just my own philosophy around how to take care of my skin in the sun:

  • Sunlight is good for skin and important for our well being and overall health (including staving off some cancers);
  • Many sunscreens are designed to block UVA rays yet UVA is needed to help our bodies produce Vitamin D, an important component of many of our body’s systems and a cancer fighting agent;
  • Vitamin D helps with controlling high blood pressure, blood sugar, and foggy thinking and depression;
  • We need at least 20 minutes of sun to get our quota of vitamin D (based on current RDA levels which in my opinion are on the low side), and
  • If you know you are going to be in the sun for a long period of time then by all means use a natural sunscreen, and protect your face with a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and hydrate yourself.

Our faces are exposed 24/7 so it’s not hard to imagine they need protection from not just the sun, but all the elements i.e. wind, dust, pollution, etc. I recommend something as “natural” as possible, a sunscreen without harsh chemicals, synthetics, preservatives, parabens, etc.  At our clinic, we finish off our treatments with mineral powder as it is a “clean” way to offer good protection from the sun without clogging pores and exposing the skin to bad things. We also recommend a line, Suntegrity from California.

Here are some additional tips from one of my favourite anti-aging doctors, Dr. Al Sears:

  • Skip the big commercial skin care junk across the board and focus on natural, healthy ways to promote skin health.
  • Antioxidants represent your first and best line of defense against all forms of skin damage, from age-related wrinkles, sunspots, and cancer to a clear and radiant complexion. They neutralize the action of free radicals, rogue molecules that bind to healthy cells, mutate DNA, and accelerate cell death.
  • Antioxidants are your skin’s most potent allies against free radical damage and you can find them in supplement form in health food stores or online:
    • Vitamin C: In addition to fighting the action of free radicals, vitamin C reduces inflammation and boosts immune response. Take 500 milligrams twice per day with food.
    • Carotenoids: Key antioxidants that not only promote skin health, they are great for your eyesight and also lower your risk of lung and breast cancer. Be sure to look for mixed carotenoids when you buy. Take 2,500 IU daily.
    • Vitamin A: This is another fat-soluble vitamin in the carotenoid family. Take 2,500 IU per day.
    • Vitamin D: In addition to all the health benefits I outlined before, this is a powerful antioxidant. Take 1,000-2,000 IEUs per day.
    • Vitamin E: A major ally in skin health. I use 400 IU per day in my patients. Look for vitamin E as mixed tocopherols on the label. These are the organic compounds most readily absorbed by your body.
    • Alpha Lipoic Acid: “The universal antioxidant,” ALA fights free radicals in both the
    • fatty and watery tissues of the body. It also recycles and extends the life of other
    • antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E. Take 100 mg per day from the alpha lipoic family.
    • CoQ10: A critical antioxidant every cell in your body needs to convert fuel into energy.
    • Take 30 mg per day, 60 mg if you’re over 60.

It is best to look for skin care products that contain natural ingredients such as plant-based oils (palm, coconut, and jojoba are all great for your skin) as they are rich in “phyto-nutrients,” antioxidants,and amino acids, the basic building blocks your skin needs to regenerate, heal, and look great.

Great skin needs attention, care and water. Make your skincare a daily habit and watch how it improves!

Product Recommendation: Suntegrity Primer for the face as well as the 5 in 1 Tinted Sunscreen. Thee products have very low rating on the Skindeep Database. They offer great protection and do not leave your face covered with a white film. Users love the citrus scent!