It’s a well-recognised call to action – if you want to choose just one anti-ageing or protective product for your skin, choose sunscreen. A whole marketing machine has driven the “slip, slop, slap” message and cosmetic shelves are lined with moisturisers containing SPF, make up containing SPF, sunscreen spray and increasingly higher protection factor sunscreens – it’s enough to confuse even the most dedicated skincare user. So, let’s sort through the facts and myths and clear the air on what makes a good sunscreen.
The actual reasons sunscreen application is important have become more varied, the sources of skin damage more prolific. In this blog, we’ll address some often overlooked sources of damage, as well as ways to protect the skin and tips and tricks for choosing the ideal SPF.
It’s not surprising to most people that we need sunscreen at the beach, or during the long summer months. It often does take more understanding to wrap our head around the importance of wearing sunscreen every single day, even on a cold, gloomy grey day or while working in an office all day.
We know that strong, overhead UV light from the sun causes significant (& insidious) damage, even more so if you live at a high altitude. In New Zealand, our UVA (A for “ageing”) rays are consistently high all year round and are quietly damaging skin, even during a gloomy overcast day, and especially at altitude. Yet, it’s not just our outdoor spaces that require the use of protection. Blue light, overhead fluorescent lighting and multiple devices that emit “junk light” all contribute to photoaging.
What Does Light Damage Mean?
Maybe we could consider reimaging the phrase “sun damage” to be instead “light damage.” By changing our vocabulary, we are closer to understanding the multiple sources where the damage originates. If you work under overhead lighting in an office, next to a window at your house, if you are working on a computer or looking at a phone or tablet, if you are driving in your car during the day: you are being exposed to damaging light..
Beyond causing eye strain and fatigue, the blue light from our screens has been shown to increase pigmentation in the skin and the formation of wrinkles. These wavelengths of blue light from our devices penetrate into the skin, causing more oxidative stress in the cells. We need to protect our skin from blue-light pollution by wearing both sunscreen and a topical antioxidant and understand the WHY behind the two important phases. We all need a reminder: Your screen time is aging your skin unless you protect it.
Even if you aren’t computer-bound for work, your screen time may occur in the evening. Even at night, if you’re going to be close to a screen, you should use a topical antioxidant and sunscreen combined, considering reapplication after a day’s work before your skin is further exposed to light emitting devices.
Antioxidants and Sun Care:
Do we need more than a “sunscreen” to protect us from sun/UV/junk light? Topical antioxidants and sunscreen ingredients work in different ways to protect the skin. A topical antioxidant, such as Kakadu plum (Bioavailable Vitamin C) penetrates the skin to absorb free radicals, inhibiting their ability to cause damage to cells.Sunscreen works by absorbing or screening light, preventing the formation of these excess free radicals. The two classes of ingredients work in tandem and provide the necessary protection to help ease the resulting effects of light damage such as hyperpigmentation, or loss of collagen and elastin.
Many sunscreens have antioxidants listed in their ingredients deck, and Juvenate ReShield takes that to another level by adding a botanical antioxidant clinically proven to protect skin from everyday environmental aggressors at the cellular level , ensuring total protection from junk light and also targeting Solar elastosis, - a condition that leads to a collection of abnormal elastin (elastic tissue) and loss of collagen in the lower layers of the skin due to the harmful effects of UVR. Considered the most common disorder of sun damage, solar elastosis appears on areas that receive persistent sun exposure, such as face, back and sides of the neck, V area of the neck and upper chest, and backs of hands. In its most common appearance, solar elastosis presents as heavily thickened, wrinkled, bumpy skin.
Even if your day involves nothing more than sitting inside in front of a screen, you should use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with antioxidant benefits. Turning on Night Shift on iPhone or Night filter on android devices also offers a level of protection. These settings will make the phone's tones warmer, filtering out some of the blue light. Also, limit holding your phone up to the ear when talking. Everyone is used to earbuds these days, and using them keeps the screen away from your skin.
The "Driving" Factor to Sun Damage:
Driving contributes to light damage in profound ways as well. Look closely in the mirror or at your hands, and you will likely find your driving side shows more signs of sun damage. Tinting the windows in your car is the first step. It’s an investment that will protect not only the interior of your car, but your skin as well. To further protect the hands, it is a good idea, when applying your skin care in the morning to use the back of your non-dominant hand as a pallete. Take the product you’ve placed on your hand and apply it to your face, neck, and décolleté, and then rub the backs of your hands together. This way, you are not wasting product, and you are protecting your hands.
Sunscreen can be kept in the car for touch-ups, just remember that heat breaks down cream sunscreen over time. Many foundations contain iron oxides, which provide a slight physical barrier. However, foundation should never be the only choice for protection, even if it contains iron oxides or a high SPF. Most people won’t use enough of it to provide proper protection. The amount of foundation needed to provide light protection would not be flattering. Still, it does work as another protective step.
What SPF rating is best?
Gaining an certified SPF rating for a product is a strictly monitored process.
The effectiveness of a sun protection product is assessed in vivo according to the ISO 24444:2019 standard. This method involves inducing redness by means of a sun simulator, under controlled conditions, on the back of at least 10 selected subjects.
20 ± 4 hours after exposure, the redness is assessed, and the individual sun protection factor is calculated. The ratio between the UV dose that produces redness appearing over more than 50% of UV exposure subsite determines the SPF rating. If the unprotected side takes 5 mins to redden and the protected side take 50 mins to redden – this is calculated as an SPF 10. Knowing this, you’d naturally think the higher the SPF – the more protection, but it doesn’t work quite like that! SPF relates to protection UVB (remember the Burning rays) and doesn’t take into account protection from UVA (the ageing rays) Infra Red or AVL (blue or junk light). Not too dissimilar to locking your home up but turning off the burglar alarm, burglars enter the house (UVA enters the skin) but you have turned off the alarm (the reddening from UVB), you don’t burn (you don’t hear/see the burglars (UVA rays), but they have gained access quietly and are causing damage and chaos all the while undetected.
The news gets worse – if you compare an SPF 20 and an SPF50, it would be logical to assume the SPF 50 would more than double your protection. In fact, an SPF 20 protects you from 95% UVB and an SPF50 protects you from 98%. For the 3% trade off, you are likely to find more sun-filtering chemicals. These more potent chemicals are absorbed into your skin and have been implicated in allergic reactions, hormone disruption, and tissue damage. Since higher SPF sunscreen isn’t even proven to work better than lower SPF, you’re better off ditching higher SPF for that reason alone. Add to this, the fact that higher SPFs are more unbalanced in their broad spectrum activity – with a higher UVB protection meaning the ratio of UVA protection automatically decreases (you leave your burglar alarm off and the burglars cause havoc for longer)
This is why, after years of painstaking research, trials and prototypes – Juvenate are thrilled to launch ReShield; an SPF 20 that uses superfine zinc and titanium dioxide to filter UVA and UVB, added antioxidants such as Kakadu plum to mop up cellular damage. Multi weight hyaluronic acid to moisturise and protect, hemp seed oil, rich in omega fatty acids to balance oil production (just as suitable for oily acne prone skins as for dry dehydrated skins due to its oil regulating activity) along with an industry first use of a botanical antioxidant with impressive studies showing UVA, UVB, IR protection along with 100% blue light protection and protection against elastosis.
Sitting at an independently certified SPF factor of 20, ReShield gives broad spectrum, artificial chemical free, reef friendly protection for all ages and skin types but stays true to Juvenate philosophy of delivering true regenerative action and restoring cellular metabolism. Available in both tinted and untinted versions, its water free, omega rich formula, wear resistant formula makes a perfect BB crème or Primer under makeup. Offering AVL (blue light) protection, a must have for Indoor workers offering device protection. Soothes, calms and repairs Excema/ Dermatitis/ Chronic inflammation.
Can be prescribed as an Introduction to active skincare, suitable for teens, acneic and hormonally dysfunctional skin.