SKINCARE 101 : Sunscreen aka Age Prevention 🌥🌤☀️
I just have to say it.
There is nothing — not a single skincare product — you can use on your face that is more effective against slowing the signs of skin aging than a daily sunscreen.
Not an anti-wrinkle cream, not a firming serum, not an alpha-hydroxy acid peel. Nothing prevents aging like a broad-spectrum SPF lotion, cream, serum, gel — no matter the form. Why? Because the sun's UV rays damage our skin at the molecular level, right down to the DNA in our cells. Every single layer of your skin is impacted by UV— from the outermost epidermis or stratum corneum (aka the skin barrier) to the dermis (where the collagen and elastin your skin needs to stay plump and youthful is found) and down to the hypodermis, a cushiony layer of fat cells.
To be candid, if you have a genuine concern for skin aging and the overall health of your skin, you cannot omit sunscreen from your morning skincare routine. You may as well not even bother washing your face — let alone spend a dime or the time on costly skincare products.
From an early age, I recognized the vital importance of sunscreen. In my early 20s, I managed a cosmetics department in a dinosaur of a department store in Los Angeles. I heeded the warning of the older German woman who ran the Elizabeth Arden counter, where Eight Hour Cream was still a top seller and those kooky little Ceramides capsules hadn't even launched yet. She looked great for her age (at least 70!) and was adamant that I use SPF every single day. Thirty or so years later, I look at least 10 years younger than I am thanks to my former Skin Frau! A lot of that is directly attributable to the fact that I have made a concerted effort to protect my skin from UV damage. I love the sun as much as the next guy (minus the trips to the beach!), but as with everything you love in life, it has its drawbacks. Don't kid yourself — you need to wear sunscreen even on cloudy, seemingly sunless days. If the sun is out, its invasive, invisible UV rays can and will reach deep into your skin. The obvious and most visible effects of UV damage are skin cancer, hyperpigmentation (sun spots) and fine lines and wrinkles.
There is a difference in the kind of UV rays the sun projects onto (make that into) our skin — both of which are a direct cause of skin damage. UVA rays are proven to accelerate signs of aging, while UVB rays burn skin and stimulate melanin production, resulting in that coveted golden tan we're conditioned to believe we should want.
UVA rays = Aging
UVB rays = Burning
Both UVA and UVB rays cause skin cancer.
Again, the sun’s UVA rays penetrate skin deep into the dermis, where the youth-preserving collagen and elastin are found. Over time, unprotected sun exposure degrades levels of both of these in your skin with the results of that becoming more apparent later in life. Our levels of collagen and elastin already diminish with age; sun damage only accelerates the natural process — and makes the visible effects worse. With the loss of collagen and elastin, skin literally collapses on itself, leading to deeper wrinkling and creasing, loss of firmness and sagging. Start to think of sun protection as anti-aging at its very best! Find yourself a well-formulated broad-spectrum sunscreen like one of these:
If you need proof of the very real effects of sun damage on skin, take a look at identical twins Jeanne and Susan. The sisters looked exactly alike growing up. But Susan has spent her life in Florida worshiping the sun (she's also a heavy smoker, a double whammy!) while sister Jeanne lives in Ohio and has generally avoided overexposure to the sun (and smoking) throughout her life. While both were 61 when the accompanying photo was taken, meticulous scientific study of Susan's skin showed an 11-year age difference. Susan has more extreme hyperpigmentation (sun spots), far deeper wrinkles, and degradation in skin elasticity —which means her un-elastic skin is sagging. I trust Susan is a lovely woman with a kind heart, but she hasn't shown herself as much love as she deserves.
Dr. Dennis Gross Dark Spot Sun Defense SPF 50 from my friends at Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare has been in my AM regimen now for a year. It took me a long time to love a mineral sunscreen and this formula is now my holy grail. The texture is perfect for me and I love that it doesn’t leave such a white veil over my face that I look angelic. I am far from an angel, but I’m very close to the sun. I’m grateful that I had the smarts to avoid the sun early in life. As I’ve learned more and more about just how pro-aging UV rays are (in addition to cancer causing!) I’ve stepped up my game. Always SPF 50 broad-spectrum for me. I don’t leave home without it (along with my AMEX!)
So, unless you're ready to throw it all in like Thelma and Louise, wear a daily sunscreen. Your life and youth are depending on it.
*National Institutes of Health, Ultraviolet radiation, aging and the skin: prevention of damage by topical cAMP manipulation, May, 2011
**National Institutes of Health; How UV Radiation Triggers Melanoma; February, 2011
***National Institutes of Health; Ultraviolet radiation, aging and the skin: prevention of damage by topical cAMP manipulation; May, 2011