While many of us know just how important it is to protect our skin from burning while out in the sun or on holiday, did you know that it’s also essential to protect your skin from the effects of aging? And that those UV rays that penetrate deeper into the skin are also those that can pass through the glass window of your car or office? Bus drivers and office workers in the BBC’s ‘The Truth About Looking Good’ documentary, saw for themselves just how much the sun’s exposure can age the face, causing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. In fact, around 75% of the effects of aging we perceive at our skin’s surface is due to sun damage alone. Dermatologist, Professor Chris Griffiths, from the documentary explained how, if a person were to remain inside rather than exposing their skin to the sunlight over their life, they would likely not see the traditional effects of aging at the skin’s surface until around the age of 80 years old! This makes sun protection one of the most powerful preventative measures you can use to protect your skin from aging, read on to learn more about how exactly it is able to protect you, and which sun protection would be best for you.
What is it that’s doing all the damage?
The answer is a combination of different types of radiation found not only in sunlight, but also in any form of light, whether it be from your computer screen or the lights of your office space. UV, or ultraviolet radiation, is the one we hear most about, but you might be surprised to know that not all sunscreens are that effective against all types of UV. UVB is the radiation that the SPF factor on your sun-cream protects against. This type penetrates only to the shallow epidermis of the skin, causing burning and, eventually, skin cancer with chronic overexposure that affects the nuclei of melanocyte cells. UVB is also the main culprit behind photodamage in the skin, which causes melasma and the hyperpigmentation that we associate with aging. UVA, on the other hand, reaches the 2nd layer of the skin, the dermis, and causes the majority of premature skin aging. This form of UV radiation can pass through glass to reach our skin, even when we are inside, and is often not mentioned in the protection from favourite SPF suncreams. UVA affects the creation of collagen and elastin in the dermis, meaning the epidermis has less support and we begin to see texture of the skin’s surface become rough and uneven, and fine lines and wrinkles start to show. The final types of radiation are visible light and infrared radiation, both of which travel all the way down to the 3rd layer of the skin, the hypodermis, and the subcutaneous layer, where we find the facial fat pads, which give us much of the volume of our face. Here this radiation causes these fat pads to shrink, stealing volume from the face and contributing to the hollow look of the aging face.
So, what is Trikwan’s advice to you?
Our advice is to always make sure you are effectively protecting yourself from the sun, whether you are away on holiday, outdoors in the UK, or working inside your office or home. Besides seeking shade, wearing hats and glasses and avoiding tanning (whether by the sun or UV booth), this means finding yourself a truly effective sunscreen. Unfortunately, not all sunscreens are created equal and many will not give you the protection you need against all types of radiation. That’s why it’s so important to know what to look for when choosing a sunscreen, and how to wear it so that it works best for you.
What makes an effective sunscreen?
What’s most important in an effective sunscreen is its SPF and UVA ratings. At Trikwan Aesthetics we always recommend following evidence-based dermatology guidelines which state that any sunscreen you wear should be at least SPF 30+ to be truly effective and have at least a 4-star UVA rating. SPF stands for sun protection factor, and it is a measure of how many times longer a sunscreen will protect you from UVB radiation than if you were unprotected. Many of our favourite makeup products will claim to contain an SPF and protect you from the sun, however the SPF is often low (10/15) and not broad spectrum (protecting from UVA and UVB) and therefore will not effectively protect your skin and prevent aging due to sun damage.
How do I wear sunscreen correctly to protect my skin?
To gain the maximum protective benefits from your sunscreen, our Trikwan Doctor Duo, Dr Sanjay Trikha and Dr Zoya Diwan recommend applying an effective sunscreen every day as a part of your skincare routine. On top of this make sure you apply 15 minutes before you head out into sunny weather, anywhere your skin is unprotected, and reapply every 2 hours or after swimming or sweating. We also recommend that you take care to inspect your skin from head to toe, for any changes every month, and see a doctor each year for an annual skin exam. If your skin tone is between 1 and 3 on the Fitzpatrick scale, you are especially at risk for developing skin cancer, but this does not mean it isn’t important for all skin tones to stay aware of their skin’s condition and check-up regularly.
What does Trikwan offer?
At Trikwan Aesthetics we prescribe evidence-based and high-quality sun protection from Obagi. Some of these sun protections are included within the larger Obagi skincare systems, but all options are compatible with all Obagi skincare products. There are 5 water-resistant Obagi Sunscreens that we offer.
Obagi Sun Sheild MATTE Broad Spectrum SPF 50: This is a combination sun protection which has been tested to the highest level for its effectiveness against UVA and UVB radiation and has been given the stamp of approval by the Skin Cancer Foundation. It is especially suited to those that suffer with acne and oily skin types, however those with a darker skin tone have said that it may give a white tinge to their skin. To avoid this we recommend rubbing the product between the palms first, before applying to the face, to lose the whiteness.
Obagi Sun Shield TINT Broad Spectrum SPF 50: These 2 tinted combination sun protection creams provides a matte finish and needs to be patch tested in order to decide which cream is most suitable. The warm tint is better suited to a darker complexion that tans well and darker skin tones whereas the cool tint is suited more to a pale complexion that burns easily. Unfortunately, neither of these tints are suitable for a level 6 skin tone on the Fitzpatrick scale and so other options would be recommended for someone with this complexion.
Obagi Hydrafactor Broad Spectrum SPF 30: This is a dual function moisturiser and chemical sun protection that is very well suited to males and those with very dry skin, leaving you with a healthy sheen finish. However, this cream is not suited for those that suffer with melasma.
Obagi Professional-C Suncare Broad Spectrum SPF 30: A chemical silicone-based sun protection which protects against both UVA and UVB radiation and has been given the Skin Cancer Foundation Stamp of approval. This formulation gives a very nice aesthetic sheen finish and contains L-ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) to help combat signs of aging.
Obagi Nu-Derm Physical SPF 32: This physical sun protection provides broad spectrum protection against UVA and UVB radiation. It is especially suited to those with sensitive skin, including those with rosacea, and to those whose natural skin barrier as been impaired.
Ultimately, not all sun protections are created equal and it is important to make sure that whichever regular sunscreen you are using, that it is a sun protection that really does protect your skin from the full effects of the sun. Which sun protection is best for you depends entirely on your skin type and tone and our highly-trained Trikwan doctors can help you make this decision during our detailed skincare consultations in-clinic at one of our Harley Street or Mayfair locations.
BOOK YOUR SKINCARE CONSULTATION WITH DR ZOYA DIWAN OR DR SANJAY TRIKHA HERE