With our current knowledge of the potential damaging effects of UV rays, it should be unthinkable to leave the skin exposed to the elements. Wearing a sunscreen whenever exposed to daylight is just a small way that we can boost our body’s defense against the ravages of UV radiation. Studies from Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Herston, Australia, have reported that individuals who wear sunscreen daily, even in winter, had 24% fewer Actinic Kerasotes (the most common precancerous skin lesion) than people who applied it once in a while.
Broad spectrum sunscreens protect us from UVA rays, the ageing rays of the sun, and therefore they can honestly claim to “aid in the prevention of premature aging,” or words to that effect. Since we have an enormous trend from the global consumer to look younger for longer, our sun protection products should easily be our number 1 best sellers.
As manufacturers respond to recent research, you’ll notice that the latest products being released in the sun protection category are also formulated with powerful antioxidants. These are used to counteract the negative photo aging effects of free radicals (from daylight) on the skin. There are a plethora of antioxidants, including vitamins and plant botanicals. Manufacturers now wishing to include antioxidants in their sunscreen products are faced with a new challenge: how to keep the antioxidants inactive on the skin until they come into contact with UV exposure and thus neutralize the free radicals. Recent research has come up with a very intelligent answer to this problem in the form of a patented DNA capsule that holds a potent mix of Vitamin C and Vitamin E, which are only released when the capsule comes into contact with UV exposure. So you can apply your sunscreen, knowing the antioxidants will release whenever it’s time to go outdoors.
Here’s a quick guide to effective, year round, sun protection products:
• Choose formulas that are multi-functional, such as those that can be incorporated in your moisturizer or even double as a daily moisturizer. Look for products that protect the skin from dehydration by providing a boost of moisture, and use formulas that have anti-inflammatory properties to help calm and soothe the skin and strengthen the capillaries to prevent leaking, which is negative of UV exposure.
• There are some fantastic moisturizing sun blocks that also include ingredients such as peptides, which address the condition of the skin and the signs of aging.
• Ultraviolet rays can cause hyperpigmentation (year round), so wearing sun protection can dramatically reduce the incidence of skin discoloration. Ideally the product will be fragrance free, as this prevents photo aging from chemical exposure.
• Many people avoid wearing sunscreen, especially in winter, as they believe it can cause breakouts. The answer to this is simple: look for non-comedogenic products, which won’t contain skin-clogging ingredients.
• Avoid sunscreens that contain artificial colors, which can not only be irritating, but also comedogenic.
• Remember to choose sun protection products that also contain a good dose of antioxidants to fight those very nasty free radicals that want to wreck and age our skin.
Some key, non-sunscreen related ingredients for sun protection to look out for are:
• Antioxidants: Green Tea, Grape Seed, Fumitory, Liquorice, Ascorbic Acid, Tocopherol, Retinyl Palmitate and Ginkgo Biloba.
• Anti-inflammatory ingredients: Green Tea, Lavender, Aloe and Liquorice, which all soothe inflamed skin
We have come a long way in the arena of sun protection, but we are by no means where we need to be. Too many people still go out unprotected daily, and as a result, suffer the perils of UV exposure. Having said that, it’s heartening to know that one of the fastest growing sectors of our industry is that of sun protection. This increased demand will, in turn, have a positive effect by fuelling greater and speedier advancements in ingredient technology and ultimately help prevent damage to people’s skin.