Stay safe during the summer - Sunscreen and Suncare | #suncareweek

Monday 24 June 2019

Sunscreen Make P:rem UV Defense Me Blue Ray Sun Cream, Klairs Soft Airy Sunscreen, Krave Beet The Sun, Avene Sunsimed, Avene Clearance

Some people love suncare, others hate it because tan in some countries is a sign of healthy skin - even from a biological point of view tan is a protective reaction to sun radiation. Do you know how to protect yourself from sun damage of your skin, what SPF means and which substance protects you from UVA and UVB? What parts of your skincare you should change and how to survive the summer heat without ending up in a hospital? Are sunscreens bad or good for you and what are the differences between the US and the rest of the world if it comes to sunscreens?


Before we start the whole thing let me mention that I'm studying cosmetology in another language than English and some terms we use are impossible to translate still I'll try my best to make this topic as easy to understand for you and contains less physics than it normally should be - yes because UV radiation is nothing else than a wavelength.

What is a suntan? 

Who doesn't love suntan? Tanned skin is so promoted by media - at least in Europe and US tanning beds were ultra-popular back in the 2000s, now we are going more towards safety and thanks to Asian Beauty being popular we can see a huge difference even in people's mind - especially teenagers, at least that's what I see during my practice and conversations with clients. What Charlotte Cho did with her book "The Little Book of Skincare" was making many young girls aware that image created by media is not as pretty as it sounds because suntan is actually a protective reaction - we can understand it like UV being an activator of melanocytes that product melanin - this process is called melanogenesis - literally your skin is attacked by UV rays that need to protect your inner organs - even on DNA level from this attack. We can't exist without the sun but it doesn't mean that the sun is fully safe for us.

Why tan isn't visible right after tanning but after a couple of hours?

When you spend time on a beach you can't notice a tan on your skin but when you're back home your skin is red or brown and it hurts or even have blisters. The melanin reaction isn't immediate, it needs time so first results occur after 4-6 hours and the full effect of UV exposure should be visible after 24 hours.

Sunscreen Make P:rem UV Defense Me Blue Ray Sun Cream, Klairs Soft Airy Sunscreen, Krave Beet The Sun, Avene Sunsimed, Avene Clearance

What's UV? 

UV stands for Ultraviolet, its nothing else than the selected range of frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum. UV rays are not visible for humans but it doesn't mean that they don't exist. Each type of UV - UVA, UVB and UVC have different wavelengths and different properties.

UVA, UVB and UVC - what does each of them do and where you can meet them?

I'm sure you know about UVA and UVB but UVC or difference between UVA2 and UVA1? Let's start from the shortest wavelengths - UVC (100nm - 280nm) exist in a space and it's absorbed by ozone layer, it can kill a bacteria that's why on Earth you can find it in germicidal lamps - you might ask me, but these lamps are usually visible to a human - it's because they are made in a way that makes them safe for you and other people - you shouldn't enter the room when UV lamp is on and make people aware that the lamp is on we add other substances so the lamp has a blue/purple colour when it's on. This technology is used for example at labs and hospitals. We all remember about UVB (280nm –315nm) because it is told that B in UVB stands for BURN. Indeed, this UV length is responsible for sunburns but it also helps with the synthesis of Vitamin D - a vitamin which we all need because lack of it can lead to osteoporosis. UVB is focused on epidermis aka the outer layer of the skin while UVA (315nm –400nm) can penetrate through epidermis and dermis so it penetrates your skin deeper and A in its name stands for Aging. The bad news is that UVA can penetrate the glass and both UVA and UVB make lots of damage including skin cancer and oxidative stress. Which kind of UV you can find in a tanning bed? Stay with me and you'll know.

Pros and cons of tanning

There are some positive and negative sides of tanning/sunbathing your skin. Definitely, synthesis of Vitamin D and having a nice brown tan is a huge pro for some of you. The fact that you can level your vitamin D deficiency in a natural way is great but unfortunately, it's also full of myths. Before we talk about this problem let's focus on cons. First con - oxidative stress and photoaging. Then we've got pigmentation problems especially if you have some scars and dark spots on the skin, another problem can be sunburn and different types of skin cancer that can even lead to death. More cons than pros for me but maybe you can find another pro.

Sunscreen Make P:rem UV Defense Me Blue Ray Sun Cream, Klairs Soft Airy Sunscreen, Krave Beet The Sun, Avene Sunsimed, Avene Clearance

UVB, sunscreen and supplementation of Vitamin D

If UVB helps with vitamin D synthesis doesn't it mean that we need it? I strongly agree that natural ways to level your vitamin D deficiency are better - I deal with that problem too but I'm fully aware that I live in a place where we have more gloomy days than winter days, I spend the majority of time at home or school so no matter what I still need to take supplements and eat veggies and fruits to balance my deficiency. Do sunscreens block vitamin D synthesis process? First of all, researches on this topic are still going and in future we will see them more often, second thing - none of the sunscreens can protect you from UVB and UVA rays in 100% but it doesn't mean that you don't need a sunscreen just because it doesn't protect your skin in 100%. And last but not least this year King's College in London published research which shows us that even if you use sunscreen the vitamin D synthesis is still in progress.

Should I wear sunscreen at home

We already know that UVA penetrates through the glass so do we need to use a sunscreen at home? Yes, especially if you spend lots of time working near the window then it's better to put a layer of sunscreen in the morning and have any type of protection at home as well. But you can also use window films to reduce the risk. Obviously, the choice is left for you, what I do is keeping my blinds on the window during the entire morning and when the sun is not that intensive because my windows are situated on the Eastern side the light usually starts to fade after 12 pm so when I wear sunscreen.

Is sunscreen safe for you?

Another study this year shows us that sunscreens can be absorbed into the blood. I saw people at local beauty groups going crazy like their world is ending. It's not like the only sunscreen gets absorbed into your bloodstream, there are a bunch of other ingredients including herbs that can get absorbed into your body. It doesn't always have to be bad, but it won't always be good. Same with this research - we still don't know if the absorption of the sunscreen into the blood is good or bad, how it goes in a long run, etc so before you stop using sunscreen I would recommend you wait for more data. My problem with this study is that only a few ingredients were tested, mostly ingredients like avobenzone, octocrylene, etc - ingredients approved by FDA and let's be honest FDA is like Internet Explorer of sunscreen regulation - late. It's okay to test ingredient before it's allowed to be in use but Europe, Japan and Australia + many other countries already banned many sunscreens which you can still find in the US and decided to use new types of sunscreens like for example Tinosorbs. Still, dermatologists and FDA itself recommended to use sunscreen and I totally agree because it's easier and probably cheaper to use sunscreen than cure skin cancer. 

Cosrx Sunscreen

Is skin cancer really a thing?

Skin cancer exists, it's not as rare as a unicorn and you might have it without knowing about it. There are different types of skin cancer like Squamous-cell Skin Cancer, Basal-cell Skin Cancer and probably the most known and the deadliest - Melanoma. Obviously, there are other skin cancers but this trio is the most common. I'm neither oncologist nor dermatologist so I won't tell you about statistics and information about skin cancer other than how I spot my client might have problem with skin cancer and how was my story with skin cancer. There are groups of people who have a bigger risk of getting skin cancer than others so before you go sunbathing think if
- someone from your family had a history with skin cancer
- what's your photo type? If you're blonde with pale skin you're at the bigger risk but it doesn't mean that you're totally safe if your skin and hair are dark
- how quickly do you get a sunburn and if you had sunburns before?
- do you use any treatments that can be photosensitizers?
- do you have any moles on your skin?

The most important thing in skin cancer prevention is to use sunscreen - especially if your work has a lot in common with the sun (you spend all day in the sun because you're a driver, water rescuer, etc) - and checking your skin every day. Maybe your mole started to look different than before? Or maybe you've got a new skin change? In some countries dermatologists do skin cancer check-ups for free, in others you have to pay but it's better to pay and feel safe. In my case, everything starts with acne treatment and having my skin burned all the time because back, when I was a teenager sunscreen, wasn't trendy and your dermatologist told you to burn in sun if you want to treat acne... I'm very pale, I'm in an I/II phototype - when we agree that phototype I is albino and phototype II is a typical light skin that easily burns but is not as delicate as albino skin. I never had a good tolerance for the sun and the fact that I had teachers forcing me to stay in the sun without any protection is just sad. Acne treatments, different medicines, herbs or even tea when you add the sun can be really dangerous. One day, after a couple of years of sun exposure and always burned nose I saw a black dot on my nose which I couldn't remove. I went to a dermatologist who just told me "it's a blackhead, use this treatment, 2 weeks and it'll be gone" - one year later it's still there so I asked my mom to get this removed because I can't look at myself anymore. The day came and before I got skin cancer removed my doctor tells me - it's skin cancer, we can remove it but we also have to remove two other skin changes on your nose because they might not be visible with a naked eye but dermatoscope is right. I still believe that I have to do check-ups all the time but since then I feel better and safer but I also lost trust in local dermatologists.

Sunscreen Make P:rem UV Defense Me Blue Ray Sun Cream, Klairs Soft Airy Sunscreen, Krave Beet The Sun, Avene Sunsimed, Avene Clearance

Is darker skin also in danger of skin cancer?

Yes, even if darker skin has more melanin than white skin its a myth that darker skin doesn't need sunscreen - no matter what skin colour you have you still need to apply sunscreen.

Mineral and chemical? Organic or inorganic? Which one to choose?

The biggest problem with sunscreen is to choose the right one. But what's the difference between mineral and chemical? Or organic and inorganic? Mineral sunscreen is also called a physical sunscreen or inorganic sunscreen, only 2 substances are in this group - Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. Mineral sunscreens usually leave a white cast on the skin and usually if you're allergic you'll go for this type of sunscreen because products made with the older type of ingredients can be sensitizing. Chemical sunscreens also known as organic sunscreens are a huge group, Avobenzone, Oxybenzone, Octocrylene, Octyl Methoxycinnamate are probably the most known sunscreens, the newer types are allowed only in selected places like EU, Japan, South Korea or Australia, these sunscreens exist under names as Tinosorbs S, Tinosorbs M, Mexoryl XL, Uvinul T 150, Uvinul A Plus. Organic sunscreens won't make your skin look white, usually formulas are less greasy but some sunscreens like Avobenzone needs a partner to work well that's why usually Avobenzone is mixed with Octocrylene. But how to choose a sunscreen? Some sunscreens provide only UVB protection and we are aware that sunscreen doesn't only need UVB protection but also UVA protection so choose the one that will protect yours from both.

Sunscreen Make P:rem UV Defense Me Blue Ray Sun Cream, Klairs Soft Airy Sunscreen, Krave Beet The Sun, Avene Sunsimed, Avene Clearance

Nano and non-nano sunscreens

Mineral sunscreens exist in two versions - nano and non-nano versions. Nano sunscreens contain nanoparticles while non-nano is based on bigger particles that might be less effective than nanoparticles but some studies are worried that nanoparticles might be absorbed into the blood. Should you be scared of them? I haven't tried non-nano sunscreens but I still agree that any sunscreen is better than no sunscreen.

Why not every sunscreen is good for you aka do sunscreens really protect you?

As I said before some sunscreens cover only UVB (280nm –315nm) wavelengths or UVA2 instead of UVA2 (320nm - 340nm) and UVA1 (340nm - 400nm) like Homosalate - absorbs wavelengths 290-306 nm and we know that it covers mostly UVB and it's not effective if it comes to UVA. You don't have to know wavelengths and all that stuff, sunscreens have special systems which are easy to understand for a consumer.

Sunscreen Make P:rem UV Defense Me Blue Ray Sun Cream, Klairs Soft Airy Sunscreen, Krave Beet The Sun, Avene Sunsimed, Avene Clearance

SPF and MED dose

How to choose sunscreen if wavelengths are too problematic to remember? Go for SPF and PA/PPD system. But what's SPF? SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and we use SPF to inform the customer about UVB protection. But how we know that SPF 50 is better than SPF 15? SPF tells us how much time we can spend in the sun after the use of sunscreen, it's not always accurate since when we go swimming or do some activity - water and sweat can remove the sunscreen from the skin. To figure out how long the sunscreen will protect you, you need to know your MED - Minimal Erythema Dose, I don't know if there are any doctors running such tests for other than research/therapy purpose and please don't do them on your own. We use UV lamps and special patches, each place gets different amount of UV - one fragment of the hand gets 1 minute while other 10 seconds - time depends on skin type then we just wait 24 hours to see the result and first fragment of the skin before fragments that are red/brown is nothing else than MED. So if you get tanned after 5 minutes and you want to use SPF 10 all we need to do is to simply calculation - SPF x time (MED) = time which you can spend without reapplying sunscreen. So 10 x 5 = 50 minutes but if you use SPF 50 then it's 50 x 50 = 2500 minutes, still please reapply sunscreen after 2-3 hours.

SPF 50 or 100? Maybe I should buy a sunblock?

For some of you this question might be weird because SPF 100 in Europe is very rare just like the name sunblock - you won't find it on products made in Europe or for European countries because the law in the EU is strict - right now new law banned brands to use information like "free from" or "hypoallergenic" from the labels so you can't label your product being free from silicones or essential oils. But sunblock ban came way earlier, I was a teenager back then and I remember how one year you were able to buy L'Oréal sunblock and the next year it was hard to find a sunscreen with SPF 50+ because using the sunblock name was banned and SPF 50+ started to be the highest SPF. Sunblock name was banned in the EU because sunscreen/sunblock can't block rays in 100%. You also won't find SPF higher than 50+, from what I was told - it's because the difference between SPF 50 and 60 is not significant. The US has some different rules on sunscreens.

PA - what does that mean and why you should focus on PA/PPD the most?

PA and PPD are two systems which producers use to let you know how good their product is in UVA protection. PPD stands for Persistent Pigment Darkening while PA is nothing else than Protection Grade of UVA. I barely ever see brands using PPD system but also the PA system is mostly used by Asian brands. If you're a European please check your sunscreen - if you're living in any other place check them as well, for example in Europe Avene and La Roche Posay have information UVB + UVA - UVA is in the circle, so what does that mean? I know that La Roche Posay is promoted as a sunscreen with high UVA protection because even my lecturer told me but I've checked BASF website and I found a graphic there which stated that this UVA sign in a circle is equivalent of PA+++ and PA++++, while PA++++ is an equivalent of PPD 16 and over and PA+++ stands for 8-16 PPD. Personally, I'm a fan of the PA system because it's easier to use.

Cosrx Sunscreen

Oils are not sunscreens

There are people who believe that oils are sunscreens so let me clarify that - oils are not sunscreens! Natural oils are antioxidants and they can be positive for your skin. If you believe that raspberry oil gives you SPF 30 or SPF 50 protection level then try to sunbathe with a pure oil on - I do not recommend you to do that. In this research, you can find that oils have max SPF 8 and they are a great company to chemical and mineral oils. Oils are a good addition to your skincare because the majority of them are antioxidants or contains minerals and vitamins which your skin needs. If your scared of chemical sunscreens - go for minerals.

How much sunscreen you should use and which part of the body you should protect but you probably forget about

2 tablespoons of sunscreen sound like a huge amount? Every face is different but 2 tablespoons is an amount which is way too much for your face. I like to use 2 finger lengths method because this amount is enough for me and my face is quite small according to people I know. But I want to mention something that you probably forgot about. Have you ever applied sunscreen on your eyelids, neck, under your chin, on your ears and above them, on eyebrows, hands and feet? I caught myself wear ago that I keep forgetting to cover the space between my socks and pants with sunscreen and thanks to this I've got funny delicate sun lights on my feet. That's why I recommend you check your skin well and cover all visible parts with sunscreen - for example, this year I already have erythema on my eyebrows because girl forgot to put sunscreen on them... I'm still trying to figure out if there's any product which I can use on my scalp because wearing a hat or walking with UV umbrella is going to make me look like I'm a weirdo and the hat will make me sweat even worse than now.

Photosensitive substance - good or bad? How they are used in phototherapy but might be bad for you when you use them during the summer? 

Do you know that some substances which you eat or apply to your skin can be photosensitive? What does that even mean? Photosensitive substances are substances that we use in phototherapy to get a better effect on the skin, psoriasis is one of the diseases that sometimes need phototherapy. It gives a better effect in therapy but when you use them during the UV exposure without control - they can make your skin vulnerable to UV exposure. Photosensitive substances are different groups of products like drugs/medicines - contraception, histamine, etc But also herbal teas and some skincare ingredients like bergamot or lemon peel oil, calendula, angelica or even food like carrot, parsley and celery are photosensitive.

Sunscreen Make P:rem UV Defense Me Blue Ray Sun Cream, Klairs Soft Airy Sunscreen, Krave Beet The Sun, Avene Sunsimed, Avene Clearance

How does your summer skincare should look like? Which products you should avoid?

Knowing that some substances can be photosensitive and make your skin burn let's change your skincare routine. What kind of products you should remove from your skincare? Acids - glycolic acid, lactic acid, etc. I would only leave low-level PHA and BHA as long as you use skincare products but any chemical peels and treatments - wait 2-3 months and you'll be able to use them again, you don't want any sunburn and additional dark spots to heal your skin. Heavy moisturizers - unless your skin is ultra dry, just go for lightweight formulas. Some acne treatments that can be photosensitive - just leave the mild ones in. Any pro treatments that can peel off your skin like microdermabrasion are banned during the summer, in general instead of grain scrubs go for enzyme scrubs.

Alternative to suntan

You might ask me now, okay if UV is bad but I want to have this lovely darker skin since I feel better with tan on, what can I do? It's not like you have no choice, you can try an airbrush tan - even if it's not the cheapest option. If you need to spend less money then what you can do is - use beta carotene supplements (in moderation) and drink carrot juice. Your skin won't get brown but your natural colour will look darker and get healthy skin look. I do not recommend beta carotene supplements if you smoke. There's a huge number of beauty products like Vita Liberta self-tanning products or the body shop honey bronze drops. Avene released Autobronzant Hydratant, Bioderma has a similar product - I had it before but honestly, I've never tested it. Clarins Self Tanning Instant Gel might be an interesting option for some of you. Garnier, Dove, Bielenda, Lirene, Lancaster, Dior, Sisley, Guerlain, Collistar and many other brands are selling Self Tanning products. Some brands are mixing fake tan with SPF protection - last year my mom was testing a product like this from Nivea. I wish I could make a review on products like this but it's not gonna happen - I don't enjoy having tanned skin, I find it traumatic.

Tanning beds - bad or good? 

Ultraviolet rays aren't good but sometimes they have positive meaning for example - for medical purposes. Shocked? Yes, they can be used in medicine, for example, PUVA - Psoralen Ultraviolet A, a therapy based in UV light which we can use to treat psoriasis. But how about tanning beds? Tanning beds are mostly based on UVA, the use of UVB is very small in comparison to UVA lamps so tanning beds won't help with vitamin D synthesis. My problem with tanning beds are light bulbs - I do not trust tanning beds owners since they should change all light bulbs in a tanning bed even if only one bulb is broken. The other thing is air - there should be an airflow if we want to keep the space safe for the customers. Not to mention the addiction from using tanning beds and a higher risk of skin cancer. There are other alternatives to tanning beds.

Sun damage - what you can do about it and how to regenerate your skin?

Your skin got sunburned? Please don't stay on a beach and just stay in shadows, the next step depends on the condition - if you don't have any skin changes besides dark red or brown skin colour try to use medium water (not too cold) and take a shower, next step can be a product recommended for sunburns, Panthenol or Aloe gel. The regeneration process will take some time but during this time don't spend more time without sunscreen, cover your head and stay hydrated.

Safe summer - remember about these things during the heatwaves

Heatwaves are dangerous so please avoid going out or sunbathing between 12 pm to 4 pm. If you plan to go out, take a bottle of water with you and some food - even if you won't need them, you might see someone who will need your help on the street. Heatwaves are dangerous especially for kids and older people. Protect your head and eyes as well, hats and sunglasses might be useful. Reapply your sunscreen every 2-3 hours, if you're active then work out in the early morning or late evening.

Krave Beauty Beet The Sun, The Saem sunscreen cushion

Sunscreens of the year 2019

I've tried a couple of different sunscreens lately and I want to mention some of them. On my Instagram @betweendots I just started #suncareweek I'll post there some reviews and skincare tips. Majority of the sunscreens I've tried are the ones which you can use on your face. You might know Klairs Soft Airy sunscreen* well if you check kherblog regularly. It's a sunscreen based on Tinosorbs which I really enjoy but after all, it worked better as a body sunscreen for me than facial sunscreen. Krave Beauty Beet The Sun is a sunscreen which I'm going to review this week, it's a gel formula ideal for dry skin, also based on Tinosorbs. Avene has 3 sunscreens that caught my eye, I used Avene when I was a teenager and I went to Spain - I never had to deal with sunburns when I used them. Avene Dry Touch and Avene Cleanance SPF 50+ sunscreens. What's surprising Avene makes products that always smell so good - like a moisturizer. Year ago I've tried mineral sunscreen from Avene and it was a big no for me. Dry touch version is nice but for dry and combo skin while Clearance formula is lightweight. Sunsimed is an option that got me interested the most since its not a drugstore sunscreen but a "medical device", it's based on Tinosorbs, Uvasorb HEB and Parsol 1789. This sunscreen is recommended for people with sensitive skin, light skin and it can be helpful if you had skin cancer before. I enjoyed this sunscreen a lot and I'll probably buy it soon but I have one problem with it - I can't use it on my eyelids. La Roche Posay Anthelios is probably one of the most popular sunscreen series, it was even recommended by my lecturer as a sunscreen with the highest UVA protection grade. I haven't tried it yet, I only have a sample and I guess I might give it a chance since it's recommended for people with a sun allergy. Nivea Protect & Moisture SPF 50+* is an affordable brand and I was happy when I saw that this year Nivea reformulated their products to be safe for the coral reef and I have mixed feelings about it. Indeed it doesn't contain some ingredients that are bad for coral reef but this formula literally peels off of my skin after 30 minutes of the use. It's not a good sign. Cosrx released two new sunscreens this year - chemical and physical one. I already tried Cosrx Shield Fit Snail Essence Sun which is a chemical sunscreen and my face just can't get along with it. It doesn't work with makeup and the scent is very heavy. I still have to try Cosrx Shield Fit All Green Comfort Sun Cream so if everything goes well in July I'll introduce you to this sunscreen. Make P:rem is a brand which I wanted to try for a long time but I've heard that the brand changed their sunscreens this year so once I got the new one I'll post my opinion of Make P:Rem UV defense me Blue Ray Sun Gel. This year I saw many sunscreen sticks, even if they look awesome they aren't as good since the coverage is not ideal and you can leave some bacteria on the stick and I bet you won't disinfect the stick after every use. Mists aren't popular and even if they are a good idea for reapplication they also have some coverage problems. If you search for a product to reapply sunscreen go for sunscreen cushion (I own one The Saem sunscreen cushion but I haven't test it yet).
*Pr gifted sunscreens

Blue light, IR and other stuff you can find on your sunscreen

One of my friends asked me about IR protection in a sunscreen. I barely ever seen sunscreens that protect from Infrared or Blue light. It's a topic for another post. I'm aware that some people also mistake visible blue light with UV rays. Do you need such protection? Start with UVA and UVB protection.

This post was really long but I hope you've learned something new. Should you be scared of UV? Don't be afraid, we need to find the balance and keep the safety but we can't freak out. Remember that during the summer you shouldn't only use sunscreen but remember about your safety as well as the safety of the people around you. Tell me, do you use sunscreens? 


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