Proper Use of Sunscreens – Before and After Spa Services

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Exposure to ultraviolet light, UVA or UVB, accounts for 90% of the symptoms of premature skin aging including wrinkles. The most important skin-care product available to prevent wrinkles is sunscreen, but most people do not use sunscreen correctly.

When to use sunscreen

Most sunscreens aren’t effective until about 30 minutes after application.

The key ingredient of many sunscreens is PABA, or para-aminobenzoic acid, which protects the skin by absorbing ultraviolet light. But PABA has to bind to the skin to be fully effective, and that takes about half an hour once the screen has been applied. So apply it every day after you shower and before you go out into the sun.

The International Dermal Institute (IDI) advises us not to only use sunscreen on warm, clear days, but also on sunny winter days, when it’s cloudy and even while driving. “We need to protect our skin any time it’s exposed to daylight, not just when we think our chances of exposure are higher,” says Dr Diana Howard, vice-president of Research and Development for The IDI.

Research shows that daily low-grade exposure to sunlight can be just as damaging as short, intense exposure with sun protection. Howard adds, “The proper application of sunscreen on a daily basis is as mandatory to skin health as proper cleansing.”

Before application, shake the bottle well before use to mix particles that might be clumped up in the container.

Use sun protection on all parts of your skin exposed to the sun, including the ears, back, shoulders and the back of your knees and legs. If blemishes or sensitive skin is an issue, special non-oil-based sunscreens are available for use on your face. Be sure to apply enough; as a rule of thumb, use an ounce, approximately a handful to cover your entire body every couple of hours. Apply it thickly and thoroughly, and get help for hard-to-reach places like your back. Two trouble spots that don’t work so well with suncreen: Your scalp and your eyelids. So use hair care products with a sunscreen wear a hat and wear sunglasses.

Keep in mind that sunscreen wears off. Put it on again if you stay out in the sun for more than two hours, and after you swim or do anything that makes you sweat.

The constant use of a photoprotector can promote an apparent reversion of photoaging giving skin a younger aspect. A great improvement may occur with suppression of exposure or photoprotection, even when started late in life. There is formation of neocollagen and new elastic fibers, giving the same aspect as seen in nonexposed skin

Look for sunscreen products that provide “multi-spectrum protection” and “broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection.” Make sure sunscreen has the right ingredients to protect you from both rays.

Two of the hottest new sunscreen technologies for protecting our exposed epidermis are Helioplex in the Neutrogena brand and Active Photobarrier Complex in the Aveeno product line. Both technologies stabilize the critical ingredient avobenzone (Parsol 1789), promoting maximum protection. Dr. Kimberly Edwards of Dermatology Associates, PA, suggests a sunscreen that uses this new technology. Neutrogena’s Ultrashear SPF 70 is her sunscreen of choice and she recommends that you make sure the words “broad spectrum” are written on the tube so you can protect against the wrinkling effects of the sun, as well.


The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation for Sunscreens listed alphabetically.

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