The summer is almost here and we are urging all of our clients to wear sunscreen during these upcoming hot and sunny days. It’s important because as most of you know, the laser is seeking out pigment in the root of the hair- we don’t want your skin color to compete with that due to sun exposure. Using sunscreen and keeping the area covered is key in being able to continue your treatments through the summer months.
Some new regulations go into effect via the FDA as of June 18, 2012:
- Sunscreens will only be labeled as broad spectrum if they protect from both UVA and UVB rays- and will be listed as SPF 15 (or higher if applicable and only up to 50+). Sunburn is primarily caused by UVB. Both UVB and UVA can cause sunburn, skin cancer, and premature skin aging. A certain percentage of a broad spectrum product’s total protection is against UVA. Anything that is between SPF 2-14 only protects against UVB rays.
- Companies cannot claim that their product is waterproof anymore. Only water-resistant or sweat-resistant, and also must provide information on how long it can be expected to last (either 40 minutes or 80 minutes).
- In addition to the final regulations, in June 2011 FDA proposed a regulation that would require sunscreen products that have SPF values higher than 50 to be labeled as “SPF 50+.” FDA does not have adequate data demonstrating that products with SPF values higher than 50 provide additional protection compared to products with SPF values of 50.
Lets get a little technical here so you can understand what you should be using and why:
UVA rays are known as the “aging” rays. The UVA rays cause tanning and photo-aging, and penetrate deeper into the skin than UVB rays. However, in the US, UVA ray protection is not quantified (SPF numbers refer to UVB rays only.) One popular way that European sunscreens quantify UVA rays is by using a PPD system (PPD stands for “Persistent Pigment Darkening” and is like SPF for UVA rays). In the US we haven’t done that much yet, but the Asian system uses PA (and can be seen on some US products currently). Here is how it compares: PA+ = PPD 2-4, PA++ = PPD 4-8, and PA+++ = PPD 8 and above. It’s recommended to use a sunscreen with a PPD/PA of 8 and over (as high as you can find). There are websites that list approximate PPD/PA rating depending on US sunscreens.
UVB rays are known as the “burning” rays (also tanning). SPF values refer to the protection from these rays only. However, it is important to wear a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects from both, and a minimum of 30 in the summer months.
It is also important to note that there are different types of sunscreen- ones that have chemical filters (ex: avobenzone, octocrylene, mexoryl sx), and ones that have physical filters (zinc oxide, titanium dioxide). Chemical sunscreens require that you apply them about 20 minutes prior to sun exposure, while physical filters can be applied directly before sun if necessary.
There are a ton of brands out there on the market, as well as a lot of information. We urge you to wear maximum protection during your time out in the sun (and to limit your time in the sun during peak hours), as well as to do your research to find out what works best for you.