What's new under the sun for skin care
New sunscreen products are incorporating moisturizers, makeup, anti-aging components and self-tanning elements.
Los Angeles Times
The beginning of summer always seems to be accompanied by an onslaught of sunscreens. The market is crowded with lotions and sprays, powders and lip balms, and, increasingly, multi-tasking products with inventive application methods that are touted for their ability to do more than just block the UVA and UVB rays that lead to sunburns, skin cancer and premature aging of the skin.
Indeed, many of the season's new sun care products were designed to marry broad-spectrum sun protection with anti-aging compounds, moisturizers, makeup — even self tanners.
"The world of sun care has changed. It used to be enough that you just had an SPF product. You were going to the beach or pool and you knew you needed sun protection. But sun damage happens every day, so we're looking for more out of our formulas," said Holly Thaggard, owner and founder of Supergoop, in San Antonio — a maker of broad-spectrum sunscreens that incorporate anti-aging compounds in formulas that are free of parabens, fragrance, oxybenzone and other chemicals common to mass-market brands.
Earlier this month, Supergoop (sold at Sephora, Nordstrom, Macy's and other retailers) introduced a broad-spectrum 20 SPF sunscreen and self tanner that works gradually and doesn't rub off on clothes or towels. In February, the company also introduced a lightweight 30 SPF serum for the face, which absorbs quickly and doesn't look or feel greasy.
"The whole idea is to get away from the lifeguard, white-nose look. Everyone wants it very transparent," said Chris Birchby, founder of COOLA, an Oceanside, Calif.-based company that makes a broad variety of certified organic, chemical-free, broad-spectrum sunscreens. Among COOLA's offerings is a matte-finish tinted sunscreen for the face that is incredibly lightweight and utterly unlike the gooey formulations of so many other mineral sunscreens that make wearers resemble Mummenschanz.
COOLA products are made with zinc and titanium, which work by reflecting sunlight, but the particles are encapsulated and coated to make them disperse more equally and, therefore, more transparently, said Birchby, who added that he was inspired to bring COOLA to market in 2009 after both his parents were diagnosed with melanoma.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with the incidence of its most deadly form — melanoma — increasing 2.3 percent for men and 2.5 percent for women annually. More than 2 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year, according to the American Cancer Society.
Ironically, the incidence of skin cancer is growing even as the market for sunscreens expands. But most of us don't use enough protection. A shot glass full of sunscreen should be applied to exposed skin every day, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, but most people apply just 25 percent to 50 percent of the recommended amount.
If the best sunscreen is the sunscreen people will use, multi-tasking products that are easy to apply and fold into busy lives may offer a solution.
"I have three kids and a hairy husband, and getting lotion on them is a major hassle," said Valerie McMurray, founder of Soleil Organique, in Bronxville, N.Y., which this year launched a broad-spectrum 45 SPF sunblock mist that also includes anti-aging ingredients such as red algae and the anti-inflammatory Bisabolol. She chose a mister instead of an aerosol spray because it lessens the inhalation risk, she said, and is easier for the user to know the skin is adequately covered because it needs to be rubbed in.
"Unfussy" was the mandate for Jennifer McKinley, founder of Cor Silver in Mill Valley, Calif., which makes a broad-spectrum SPF 15 soap that uses a non-silver silica compound as an antibacterial for cleaning, and a Japanese compound called CSC for anti-aging and sun protection properties. Sericin is the main sun protectant in the soap. The silk protein attaches to the keratin in the skin during washing to form a UVA and UVB protective barrier, she said.
"I'm a super-busy person, and I'm not terribly girlie," said McKinley, who speaks for a lot of women when she added: "I don't want to have to do a gazillion steps in the morning and the night."
SPF AND HOW IT WORKS
Despite the constant admonishment to use, then reapply, sunscreen every two hours, the entire product category can be confusing. Here's our cheat sheet:
Ultraviolet, or UV, light is the sun's radiation. There are three types of UV light, only two of which reach the Earth and impact skin.
UVA accounts for 95 percent of the sun's radiation that reaches the Earth's surface. It penetrates the skin and contributes to skin damage, such as wrinkles, and skin cancer.
UVB accounts for the remaining 5 percent of ultraviolet radiation that reaches the Earth. It is responsible for causing sunburn.
Broad-spectrum sunscreens are designed to protect users from UVA and UVB rays.
A sunscreen's Sun Protection Factor, or SPF, measures only UVB protection. An SPF 15 blocks 94 percent of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97 percent and SPF 45 blocks 98 percent. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends sunscreens with an SPF of 30.
Natural sunscreens use two active ingredients: titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, the latter of which can temporarily whiten skin. Both work by physically blocking the sun's rays.
Traditional sunscreens use chemicals such as oxybenzone and avobenzone to absorb ultraviolet rays and prevent them from causing damage. Avobenzone absorbs UVA; oxybenzone, UVB.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which oversees sunscreen labeling, will adopt new rules designed to give consumers better information about the effectiveness of over-the-counter sunscreens and, for the first time, UVA protection, in December.