Approximately one third of sunscreens provide less than half of the SPF claimed

Medscape (5/19, Doheny) reported, “About a third of sunscreens tested by experts…provide less than half the SPF protection claimed on the label,” according to Consumer Reports’ annual sunscreen report. According to the article, the Food and Drug Administration does not routinely test sunscreen products’ SPF.

Dr. Bader recommends sunscreens that have a high concentration of zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as the active ingredient(s). These are physical blockers, that reflect all of the suns rays (UVB and UVA).

Chemical blockers only work for specific wavelengths and break down, often within a few hours of sun exposure.

What is the best way to avoid getting wrinkles?

Most facial wrinkles come from ultraviolet rays, from the sun or tanning beds. So, the best way to avoid getting more is to avoid getting sun damage. Avoiding midday sun, wearing protective clothing and hats, and, of course, using a good sunscreen. I recommend a sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher with a high concentration of zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. These are physical blockers that act like little mirrors that reflect all of the suns rays.

Another common cause of wrinkles is smoking. No surprise here. Smoking affects the blood vessels, which has an effect on the skin. With so many aids to help one in quitting, there is no better time than now to give up the cigs.

A good topical regimen can help reduce sun damage, improve skin texture, even out skin tones, and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Without question, the most studied drug in this category has been Retin A. This Vitamin A derivative is a great medication to improve the skin. In fact, it is more effective than virtually any other cream available and is often much less. Retinol, an over the counter product, is a pro-drug–it gets converted into tretinoin, the active ingredient in Retin A once it gets in the skin. But beware!!!! Not all Retinols are the same. In fact, nearly all have no clinical studies on them showing how effective or ineffective they are!!! So, if you decide to go the over-the-counter route, or even buy one in your local spa or Doctor’s office, ask to see the clinical studies on that product (not just a general study on Retinol, but on their exact product).

Topical antioxidants have been hot in the last decade. These help by reducing free radicals in the skin and therefore reduce damage in the skin, mostly caused by the Sun’s ultraviolet rays. Vitamin C has been the most well studied. There are some good Vitamin C products out there and a lot of bad ones. Choose carefully as these products are not cheap. One’s that oxidize quickly (turn brown) will not work well. Several other antioxidants have been put into products, but are less well studied.

In short, a good topical anti-aging regimen should contain:

1. A titanium-dioxide and/or zinc oxide containing sunscreen, preferably SPF 30+

2. A well-studied Vitamin A derivative product, such as Retinol or Retin A

3. An anti-oxidant, such as topical Vitamin C. But, just any topical Vitamin C product will do.

The new U.S. FDA guidelines for rating and labeling sunscreens

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United Stated. One should use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. The SPF rating system only applies to the protection the sunscreen has against UVB and will still be used. Here are the changes in labeling:

  • The highest SPF rating will now be 50+. You will not see any sunscreens with a rating of 70 or higher.
  • Only products with an SPF of 15 or higher will be able to claim that they protect against sunburn, skin cancer, and photo-aging.
  • Manufacturers can no longer claim that their product is waterproof or sweat-proof. Products can labeled water-resistant.

Recommendations:

  • Apply sunscreen liberally–do not use too little.
  • Reapply sunscreen often–at least every few hours and immediately after swimming.
  • Try to use water-resistant sunscreens that work for 40 or 80 minutes (under the new labeling system)
  • Always use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are two active ingredients that work well against all of the suns rays.
  • Use a sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or greater.