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Sunscreen and Everything you need to know to protect your Skin
Sol Lim, Senior Appearance Medicine Nurse
October 13, 2020

Skin Cancer is the most common cancer in New Zealand, but it’s also one of the most preventable.  New Zealand has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world and this is not a statistic that us Kiwis should be proud of.

We all know that we should use sunscreen to protect us from skin cancers and pleasantly there are some added cosmetic benefits from their use.

Too many people focus on the SPF number. SPF stands for sun protection factor, but it only accounts for UVB rays. In New Zealand, the recommendation is using an SPF 30 or above.

 

So, what are UVA and UVB rays?

UVA radiation goes deep into the skin, causing long-term damage such as wrinkles, blotchiness, sagging and skin cancer. I call this UVA for aging.

UVB radiation gets into the top layer of skin and can cause sunburn, skin damage and skin cancer. The ozone layer absorbs most UVB, preventing it from reaching the earth’s surface. I call this UVB for burning.

As shown here, and published by the New England Journal of Medicine, this picture features a 69-year-old man who has spent nearly three decades on the road.

For 28 years, the trucker has had his left side exposed to UVA rays transmitted through his window – whereas his right side was covered and relatively unharmed.

What can we do to prevent our skin from aging?

I believe that the active ingredient of the sunscreen is more important than the SPF. If the SPF is above 30, it is a good sunscreen. Below is the FDA monograph of sunscreen ingredients:

As you can see from above, zinc oxide is the only ingredient that offers extensive protection for UVA and UVB rays.

Commonly, many of us associate Zinc sunscreens as being sticky, greasy and white but pleasingly, they are not all the same. Here, we detail some of the sunscreens on offer at Skin Institute that not only contain Zinc oxide but also feel cosmetically elegant (non-sticky).

  1. Dermaquest Sheer Zinc– containing 18.6% zinc oxide and SPF 30 and one of my personal favourites, it comes in clear and tined (nude and sun kissed). Not only a brilliant sunscreen for sensitised and acne-prone skin, it is also suitable for use during Appearance Medicine treatments.
  2. Synergie Uberzinc – Sitting top of the range and highly recommended by Skin Institute’s Appearance Medicine Nurses, Synergie contains Zinc for UVA and UVB protection, and is a also a nourishing moisturiser.
  3. AO – Packed with antioxidants and also top of range, AO is Zinc-based and has some added sun-protection ingredients like niacinamide and astaxanthin.
  4. PCA Skin Sheer Tint Broad Spectrum SPF 45 – Cleverly offering 80 minutes water resistance and a blend of natural minerals Zinc oxide and Titanium Dioxide for maximum protection, it also features Ubiquinone, a potent antioxidant that fights free radical damage.
  5. Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-on Shield – A convenient brush on sunscreen rich in Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide, this is 100% mineral with the added bonus of 80 minutes water and sweat resistant. Offering the convenience of an on-the-go sunscreen, Colorscience can used alone or over makeup. I personally like to use this around midday as a touch up to top up my sun protection and also mattify my oily afternoon T-zone. Plus, you would not want to get all that UV damage through your window in the afternoon traffic!

These sunscreens are available at most Skin Institute clinics and from our online store.

If you’re concerned about sun damage or want to find out more about looking after your skin, book an Appearance Medicine Consultation or a Free Spot Check today.