Do you know that spending 30 minutes in a tanning bed (UVA light exposure) results in similar damage to that of spending an entire day at the beach?
This is because the UVA light emitted by the tanning bed goes deep in the skin; contributing to wrinkling, photoaging, brown spots, leathery skin, and the risk of skin cancer. Going to a tanning bed is like smoking a cigarette - they both can lead to cancer.
Is there a "healthy tan"?
No, not really. Minimal sun exposure is best. Studies tell us that a "base tan" does NOT prevent you from getting more significant sunburn or sun damage. It probably depends on how much sun you get overall. A little color prior to a Hawaiian vacation might be somewhat protective, but it is still damaging. Try to avoid mid-day (11 am-3pm) sun when possible.
IS AN SPF 15 SUNSCREEN THE HIGHEST YOU NEED?
In the past, dermatologists said an SPF 15 sunscreen was all that was necessary because it blocks 93% of UVB. Confusion arises because SPF 30 blocks 97% and SPF 40 blocks only 97.5% of UVB. So what is the point of the higher SPF? A higher SPF will do a better job especially since most people use only 1/3 to 1/2 as much sunscreen as they need. SPF is determined in the lab with a thick coat, so most people don't get the full SPF that a product is labeled. Use a half teaspoon each on the face and neck, each arm, and 1 teaspoon on each leg, back, and chest/stomach.
UNDERSTANDING CHEMICAL AND CHEMICAL-FREE SUNSCREENS
Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing UV energy when it hits the skin. Examples include octyl salicylate, octyl methoxycinnamate, oxybenzone & Parsol 1789. Chemical free sunscreens work by blocking, reflecting, or scattering the UV energy. These include titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Many sunscreens will include both types of ingredients. If sunscreen makes your eyes sting, make sure you use a purely chemical free product on your face (Neutrogena Sensitive Skin SPF 30 is one example). Chemical free products generally require more rubbing to get them to disappear, so apply in front of a mirror! Each dermatologist has their own favourite sunscreens (Anthelios, Ombrelle, Neutrogena, Ultrasheer DryTouch).
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN UVA AND UVB RAYS?
Both UVA and UVB rays contribute to skin cancer!
MY SUNSCREEN SAYS " WATERPROOF, SWEAT PROOF, RUB PROOF, ALL DAY 8 HOUR PROTECTION"; IS IT NECESSARY TO REAPPLY IT?
- UVB: These rays cause sunburn! They are strongest in summer, and from 10am to 4pm. Most sunscreens that are SPF 30 or higher protect against sunburn. The UVB rays cannot penetrate window-glass.
- UVA: These rays are responsible for wrinkling and premature aging! Unlike UVB rays, UVA rays are strong all day, and all year. The SPF does not tell you about the UVA protection. Because UVA rays DO penetrate glass, they shine on you while you're in a car or inside near a window. Both titanium dioxide and zinc oxide provide outstanding UVA protection, as do the new chemicals Mexoryl XL and Mexoryl SX (Ombrelle, Anthelios).
YES, you need to reapply it every three hours or if you have been swimming or participating in vigorous activity. You should apply sunscreen half an hour before and after your first exposure to the sun. These two quick applications allow for a better coat of sunscreen, and less chance of missing spots. Now go on out and SLIP, SLAP, and SLOP: meaning slip on a shirt, slap on your hat, and slop on generous amount of sunscreen!
We put academic qualifications, many years of combined experience, and training in a variety of special interest areas to work for your healthy, radiant skin. Our providers – Drs. Schachter, Hanna, Curtis, Abdulla, Pollack, and Taradash – welcome new patients for treatment at the Dermatology on Bloor practice on Park Road in Toronto. Our team is here to serve your needs