Confused about which sunscreen to buy?
You’re not alone: a recent JAMA Dermatology study  found we’re really dumb when it comes to understanding sunscreen labels.
Just how dumb are we? The study found that only 43% of us understand the definition of sun factor protection (SPF)*.
Worse, only 7% of us know how to tell how much protection a sunscreen product has against early skin aging.
These levels of confusion are alarming given that rates of skin cancer have been increasing in both men and women since 2002 .
Why are We so Confused?
Paradoxically, because science has made significant advances in understanding how the sun can damage skin cells, sunscreen labels have become more complicated, evolving past a simple SPF rating to listing a bunch of confusing ingredients that somehow offer various levels of broad UVA & UVB spectrum protection – it’s no wonder the average consumer is now more than just a little confused.
“We need to do a better job of educating people about sun protection and make it easier for them to understand labels,” said Dr. Roopal Kundu, lead author of the study.
One way to make sunscreen labels easier to understand would be to have a simple star-rating system for UVA protection along with the current SPF system for UVB protection. When test subjects in the JAMA study where shown a 4-star-rating system for UVA protection, nearly 80% could accurately identify how much UVA protection a particular star-rating indicated and 90% could accurately determine the level of UVB protection when represented as an SPF value, all a far cry from the accuracy people have now, with current sunscreen labels.
How to Choose a Sunscreen
While sunscreen labels have become more complicated, choosing the appropriate sunscreen is a relatively simple matter if you keep these three criteria in mind:
- For UVB protection, choose a product with a SPF of at least 30. If you’re going to be in the sun all day, choose one with a SPF of at least 45, ideally 50.
- The sunscreen should be waterproof, esp. if you’re wearing it during the hot, sweaty, summer months.
- For UVA protection, there is no star-rating system, yet, so look for a product that contains at least one of the following ingredients: ecamsule, avobenzone, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, sulisobenzone, or zinc oxide.
Did You Know?
* SPF tries to estimate the amount of time you can stay in the sun without getting sunburned. For example, an SPF of 15 would allow you to stay in the sun 15 times longer than you could without protection. SPF is only an estimate because how quickly you’ll burn depends upon a number of factors including the time of the year, the time of day, your geographic location, and weather conditions.References:
- Betty Y. Kong, Sarah L. Sheu, Roopal V. Kundu. Assessment of Consumer Knowledge of New Sunscreen Labels. JAMA Dermatology, Published online June 17, 2015. [↩]
- Kohler, BA, Sherman RL, Howlader N, Jemal, A, Ryerson AB, Henry KA, Boscoe, FP, Cronin KA, Lake A, Noone, A-M, Henley, SJ, Eheman, CR, Anderson, RN, Penberthy, L. Annual report to the nation on the status of cancer, 1975–2011. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2015;107(6 [↩]
- Gilchrest BA. Skin and aging process. CRC Press. 1984; 124. [↩]
- Hughes MCB, Williams GM, Baker P, Green AC. Sunscreen and prevention of skin aging: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med 2013 June; 158 (11):781-790 [↩]
Out, damned spot! out, I say! ~ Lady McBeth
What are those Damned Brown Spots Anyway?
Brown spots are flat, oval areas of skin that are darker than the surrounding skin – hence called ‘spots’ – and they are typically tan, brown or black. While brown spots develop most often in people with light to fair complexions, those with darker skin can also experience small areas of increased pigmentation.
What Causes Brown Spots?
Prolonged and repeated exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun is the most frequent cause of brown spots in those that are genetically predisposed. UV light causes brown spots because the skin reacts by increasing melanin production in a localized area; increased melanin production is also how you get a tan to help protect deeper layers of skin from UV rays, but with a tan the distribution of pigment is even. Moreover, because it is UV light rather than the entire spectrum of sunlight that causes brown spots, commercial tanning lamps and tanning beds can also contribute to their development.
While UV light is the most common cause, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from skin injury, certain skin diseases, and certain medications that sensitize the skin to the sun can also cause brown spots.
The development of brown spots usually happens gradually over time. Because of their gradual development, they are sometimes called ‘age spots,’
Where do Brown Spots Occur?
In the case of UV exposure, brown spots usually occur on those parts of the skin that have had the most sun exposure, e.g., on the back of the hands, the top of the feet, on the face, or on the shoulders and upper back.
How Can I Get Rid of Brown Spots?
Before using a laser or IPL to get rid of a brown spot, see your doctor first to make sure the spot is not pre-cancerous or cancerous.
You’ll especially want to see your doctor if you notice that a brown spot has any one or more of these characteristics:
- It is darkly pigmented
- It is rapidly increasing in size
- It is greater than 5mm
- It has an irregular border
- It has an unusual combination of colors
- It is accompanied by itching, redness, tenderness or bleeding
If your doctor tells you it is safe to remove a brown spot, if you only have 1-2 spots, liquid nitrogen is quite effective. Sometimes, however, more than one treatment may be needed to fully remove a spot and repeated treatment with liquid nitrogen can cause blotchy pigmentation over time.
IPL, on the other hand, is equally effective in removing many brown spots at once while also maintaining skin tone; in fact, the goal of IPL treatments is to make your skin more evenly colored by decreasing the irregular brownish and reddish areas that have developed as a result of aging and sun damage. In addition, IPL also brightens the skin and gives it a more youthful glow.
It should be noted, however, that the effectiveness of IPL in removing brown spots depends somewhat on your skin tone; while IPL can be adjusted to your skin tone, if your skin is too dark, your best bet is to use a Yag or Q-switched Yag laser.
Kissing lines, or perioral lines, are wrinkles that form around the mouth by way of repetitive facial expressions.
As skin matures, it loses its elasticity and fine lines begin to form and deepen around the corners of the mouth and above the upper lip.
An effective anti-aging measure to prevent these lines from deepening is a routine peel or exfoliating treatment. Chemical, enzyme, and crystal peels (microdermabrasion) work to slough away dead skin cells revealing a brighter, firmer layer of skin.
For best results, opt for a spa treatment over an at-home kit. Spas use professional grade products which are more potent than those sold in stores. Plus you can relax knowing the procedure is being administered by a trained skin care expert!
Other tips to prevent lip lines:
- Refrain from smoking
- Apply sunscreen regularly
(product recommendation: Chemfree Superblock)
- Keep lips hydrated by using a lip balm
(product recommendation: Honey Vanilla Lip Balm )
- Apply an anti-aging cream or serum daily
(product recommendation: Primrose Eye & Upper Lip Treatment Cream)
Check out our current spa deals >>
A recent article in Fox News Magazine highlights creative ways to use the summertime heat for great skin.
Read on for Shizuka’s summertime tips for eliminating dull dry skin:
To make sure your skin is in tip-top shape, it’s especially important to cleanse properly when the temperature rises. Experts say now is the time to thoroughly exfoliate every week to remove impurities from the skin and keep pores clog-free. New York City-based celebrity facialist Shizuka Bernstein suggests applying a hot towel to the skin for five minutes after removing makeup and washing skin thoroughly. Follow this by exfoliating gently with a scrub that’s ideal for sensitive skin.
Summer is all about being outside; whether it’s building sandcastles on the beach, picnicking in the park, enjoying a backyard barbeque, or just basking on a some steps — outdoors is the place to be!
While the warm sun feels wonderful on your skin, it can really dry it out (even if you’re in the shade!), eventually leaving your skin starving for some nutrient-rich moisturizing.
In the name of summer and all things relaxing, we came up with a list of our most popular “sun repair” spa treatments that will heal and soothe sun drenched skin, providing deep hydration and relief (& will prepare you for some more fun in the sun!)
For the Face:
- The Geisha Facial – The Geisha Facial has received a lot of press due to its much lauded ingredient, Uguisu no Fun or Nightingale droppings. But many forget is that this is a full service facial including a hydrating camellia oil facial massage and antioxidant-rich Green Tea Collagen mask. The mask works to reduce signs of aging by encouraging further collagen production and saturates the skin with free radical fighting antioxidants.
- GentleWaves® LED Facial Rejuvenation – This facial incorporates specially coded LED lights that promote a process called photomodulation in the skin. Much like photosynthesis in plants, the LED lights work to stimulate and promote healthy skin production.
- Naturopathica’s Natural Face Lift Facial – Combined with ultrasonic and microcurrent technologies, this high performance treatment uses Naturopathica brand products including Plant Stem Cell Serum (a powerful antioxidant blend) to deliver deep hydration and gently firms and tones the skin.
For the Body:
- Coffee Break Mud Wrap – This 50min heated treatment uses a natural body scrub that includes Black Silt Clay and Coffee Arabica to exfoliate and draw out impurities. It also includes Indian Sarsaparilla and Shea Butter to clarify skin and seal in moisture
For the Hands & Feet:
- Espresso Mud Pedicure -This sensually invigorating pedicure uses a mud mixture to exfoliate and deeply hydrate your feet. In addition to nail and cuticle care, and buffing/color; this treatment includes added moisturizing and light massage.
- Sakura Pedicure & Nagomi Manicure – These are our signature manicure and pedicure treatments that include the most pampering and nail care. We use the natural harnessing power of ingredients like Crystallized Honey, Rice Bran, Sake-Kasu, and a handmade and chemical free Yuzu Massage Cream to fully exfoliate and deeply hydrate the hands and feet.
The Nesttalks with Shizuka Bernstein, Celebrity Esthetician and Owner of SHIZUKA New York Day Spa, about summer beauty products in their article:
Shizuka describes Naturopathica’s Lavender Protective Moisturizer SPF 17 as an ideal summertime skin care product that’s great for use year round.
This moisturizer from Naturopathica is a perfect makeup base in the summer, offering UVA and UVB protection with a smooth, matte finish,” says Bernstein. “Micronized zinc oxide is a physical sun blocker, so it doesn’t penetrate the skin, which means it doesn’t irritate it. But the secret ingredient is turmeric root, which reduces redness and helps inhibit melanin production for added protection. I love this product and use it all year round!
Lavender and skin care go hand in hand. Its soothing aroma is useful for treating anxiety and insomnia while its antiseptic property acts as an all natural antibacterial component to purify the skin. Infuse lavender skin care into your summertime beauty routine!
During these hot summer days, we invite you to give extra attention to keeping your skin free of bacteria that can lead to acne. Relax with these soothing lavender skincare facial cleansers:
Aloe Cleansing Gel – A foaming sulfate-free cleanser with a refreshing blend of Aloe Vera and Lavender that gently clarifies the skin while maintaining natural moisture.
Lavender oil, known for its antioxidant and antibacterial properties, can be found in our Shizuka New York Skincare System as well:
Shizuka NY Moisturizer – This moisturizer is a non-greasy and absorbs immediately to hydrate, condition and rejuvenate, and works to clarify and brighten the complexion.
Shizuka NY Foaming Cleanser -This Foaming Cleanser is used in most facial treatments in our NYC day spa and contains a slew of other nourishing ingredients leaving the skin renewed, softer and more supple.
Check out the latest mention of our Halloween Week Special – Geisha facial here! There’s still time to take advantage of our exclusive Halloween Week spa deals. So hurry, offers end October 31st, 2011!
While the idea of a daily facial seems unlikely, especially for those constantly on the go, there are a couple things you can do daily to keep your skin happy and healthy this season.
As the weather gets cooler and the air dryer, it’s important to remain mindful of the foods we eat. It’s difficult to determine the exact correlation certain foods have on skin conditions, but for most, a slight change in the way we eat can bring a drastic improvement to our skin. Samantha Heller, MS, RD, a clinical nutritionist at NYU Medical Center in New York City, says, “Everything you eat becomes a part of not only your inner being, but the outer fabric of your body as well. The healthier the foods are that you consume, the better your skin will look”.
To ensure you’re getting enough essential vitamins to nourish your skin from the inside out, we’ve compiled a list of seasonal winter foods to look out for the next time you go grocery shopping. For ultimate skin protection, we’ve paired them with our vitamin-infused topical serums and potions for a customized mini-facial everyday!
Reduce wrinkles, curb inflammation, improve skin tone, increase collagen levels: Eat foods rich in Vitamin C like sweet potatoes, red peppers, pineapple, oranges, and dark green leafy vegetables. Vitamin C is best known to strengthen your immune system but can also protect your skin’s cells and tissues from premature aging. Apply our Vitamin C Power Gel for a Vitamin C boost and Beech Tree & Ginseng Daily Moisturizer.
Soft, smooth, radiant skin: Eat foods rich in Vitamin E like fortified cereals, almonds, turnip greens, tomatoes, pine nuts, and avocado. Vitamin E helps fight off toxins in your body and acts as a powerful antioxidant.
Build up anti-aging defense mechanisms in your skin, even skin tone, reduce skin irritation and itchiness: Eat foods rich with Beta Carotene like carrots, pumpkins, squash, sweet potatoes, broccoli and spinach. Beta Carotene promotes cell growth and increases immunity. Apply Pumpkin Purifying Enzyme Peel to naturally exfoliate dead skin cells, and for mature skin apply Sweet Cherry Brightening Enzyme Peel which is infused with both Beta Carotene and Vitamin C.
Reduce the appearance of dark under eye circles and skin discoloration: Eat foods rich in Vitamin K like olive oil, scallions, Brussels sprouts, kale, asparagus, broccoli, and pears. Vitamin K plays an important role in blood clotting and bone health but also helps heal skin discolorations and scarring. Apply Vitamin K Brightening Eye Serum to under eye circles and our Anti-Redness Gel (also infused with Vitamins C and E) to reduce the appearance of redness and small capillaries.
Smoother, naturally hydrated skin: Eat foods with Hyaluronic Acid like fish and poultry. Hyalauronic Acid helps to hydrate and tightly bond skin cells together. Apply our Hyaluronic Acid Gel for deep skin hydration and Glycolic Purifying Peel for both exfoliation and hydration, for normal to oily skin.
Healthy glowing skin: Eat foods rich in complex B vitamins like whole grains, poultry, fish, and eggs. B vitamins helps build healthy cells and can help even out skin tone.
Check out our current Spa Deals here>>
Can’t make it to the spa? Check out our online store>>
The summer solstice today marks the beginning of the season of beaches, parks, and sun. Just in time, the Federal Drug Administration has recently issued new rules that are intended to improve the way sun protection products are marketed and used.
Here are a few important points to keep in mind when purchasing and using sunscreen this summer:
- SPF only refers to protection from the sun’s UVB rays. In order to prevent sunburn, premature skin aging, and skin cancer, you need broad spectrum UVB and UVA protection.
- SPF is based on testing that uses large amounts of product on the skin. In order to be effectively protected, apply more sunscreen than you may want to, and more often than you normally would.
- There is no such thing as a waterproof sunscreen. All sunscreens lose effectiveness when you sweat or swim. In these cases, reapply frequently.
- There is very little difference between SPF 30 and SPF 50. There is no need to purchase a sunscreen with SPF higher than 50. Rather, look for broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection and reapply frequently.
- In addition to using sunscreen with SPF 30-50 daily, you should protect your body with clothing and light-blocking hats and umbrellas.
When you venture outdoors this summer, take care of your skin to prevent sunburn, premature aging, and skin cancer.
Recommended Sun Protection Product:
Super Sheer Sunscreen SPF 50+
By DCL Skin Care
DCL Skin Care’s Super Sheer Sunscreen SPF 50+ combines high UVB absorption and powerful UVA blockage for broad spectrum protection in an elegant silky sheer, matte finish that leaves the skin residue free.
The superb photo protective performance of ultra microfine zinc oxide contributes to the high SPF protection while supplemental antioxidants safeguard the skin from environmental free-radical damage.
Size: 1.7 Fl oz / 50 mL
We’ve been telling you about the dangers of tanning for awhile now. In case you need a quick refresher, here it is in a nutshell:
- Tanning is a MAJOR cancer risk, according to the World Health Organization, along with arsenic and mustard gas, due to the UV rays in sunlight and in tanning beds.
- Tanning is your skin’s natural reaction to DEFEND itself from the sun’s UV radiation, not encourage you to stay out longer.
- Tanning seriously ages your skin, weakening connective tissues in your skin, causing fine lines and wrinkles as well as hyperpigmentation (sun spots).
Here’s more bad news for the tanners out there. If you’ve been in search of that ever-elusive full body tan, you will be searching a long time, according to a new study.
Published in Experimental Dermatology, the study found that some parts of your body (ex. buttocks) are just less prone to holding a tan. There’s tan through swimwear out there in addition to nude sunbathing, tanning beds, and that guy above. However, our bodies seem to be telling us that there are some places that are just not meant to be tan. Staying out for hours in the sun may not get you closer to the full body tan and it only increases your risk of skin cancer.
So stick to spray tanning or, better yet, no tanning. Keep in mind that skin cancer is on the rise, especially among younger women, and ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS protect your skin with a sunscreen of at least SPF 30 daily.
A study this year at Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University used a unique method to show the effects of lifestyle choices on aging. Researchers photographed and interviewed 186 pairs of twins during the 2006 and 2007 Twins Festival in Twinsburg, OH and compared these data to find clues into how our daily choices affect the way we age.
In the above example, researchers recorded an over-11-year gap in perceived age difference between 61-year-old twin sisters Jeanne (left) and Susan (right). “We don’t have the same taste in men and weather,” says Jeanne who lives in Ohio and has aimed for “as little sun exposure as possible” in contrast with her sun worshiping Floridian counterpart. In addition to her tanning habit, Susan also smoked a pack-and-a-half per day for 16 years during her 20s and 30s.
The evidence of aging is far stronger in twin sister Susan’s hyperpigmentation (sun damage and age spots) and the greater appearance of fine lines and wrinkles under the eyes and around the mouth.
In addition to sun exposure and smoking, another major factor in the appearance of age in the twins was weight. In women below 40, lower weight generally translates to a more youthful appearance. However, in women over 40, more weight contributes to a younger look by filling in fine lines, wrinkles and skin sagging. In the case of the above 46-year-old twins, Laurie (left) weighs 38 pounds less than her sister Lisa (right) which contributes to her more pronounced wrinkles and sagging in the eye area.
Other factors that could contribute to aging include birth control pills (younger), antidepressants (older) and stress (older). [MSNBC.com]
In case you need yet another reason to eat your veggies like mom always told you to, Penn State University has recently found that compounds found in green vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage, when combined with selenium, could be a potent drug to fight melanoma.
So far, the new skin cancer treatment has only been tested on lab mice, but researchers speculate that the new drug could be effectively delivered to humans intravenously, or as an additive in sunscreen products.
Source: Penn State Live
Celebrity funny-man Will Ferrell of Anchorman and Saturday Night Live fame uses his best “assets” to support cancer survivors with his new line of sunscreens.
With provocative names such as “Sexy Hot Tan,” “Forbidden Fruit” and “Sun Stroke,” 100% of the proceeds of Ferrell’s signature sunscreens benefit Cancer For College, an organization that provides college scholarships to cancer survivors. According to CFC’s website, over 10,000 bottles have already been sold.
In true Ferrell form, the descriptions of the SPF 30 sunscreens are equally as hilarious as the very exposing pictures of him on each bottle:
- Sexy Hot Tan
Are you Sexy? Are You Hot? Then who wouldn’t want a sexy, hot tan? This sunscreen is made with our very own streaking strength formula plus one.
- Sun Stroke
What golfer wouldn’t want to sport a rich dark tan and add 57 yards to their tee shots? This sunscreen provides improved accuracy, added distance and the ultimate bronzing power…we think.
- Forbidden Fruit
Honestly, the less we say about this one the better for fear of being cast into a pit of fire.
More information about Will Ferrell Sunscreens and Cancer For College at CancerForCollege.org.
Experts in the cancer branch of the World Health Organization have now moved tanning beds and other forms of ultraviolet radiation into the top cancer risk group along with arsenic, mustard gas, smoking cigarettes and chimney sweeping, among others.
Tanning beds have long been considered “probable carcinogens” likely to lead to skin cancer by the WHO, but this news, published in the medical journal Lancet Oncology, concludes through the analysis of about 20 different cancer studies that skin cancer risk increases by 75% in people who start using tanning beds before the age of 30.
“People need to be reminded of the risks of sunbeds,” remarked Vincent Cogliano, one of the researchers. “We hope the prevailing culture will change so teens don’t think they need to use sunbeds to get a tan.”
Studies show that the use of tanning beds has increased in the under-30 generation, including teens. This is easy to believe due to high visibility of bronzed celebrities gracing our movie theaters and television screens (see our previous post on Tanorexia and UV protection).
Cogliano went on to elaborate that ultraviolet radiation is not healthy in any form, whether it be from a tanning bed or even the sun. This research only further emphasizes the need for us all to limit sun exposure and to always protect our skin by wearing sunscreen or sunblock daily with an SPF of at least 30. In addition to the cosmetic problems such as hyperpigmentation and wrinkles that prolonged sun exposure can cause, it has now been confirmed what a serious health risk tanning can be.
As an alternative to tanning, the American Cancer Society recommends cosmetic bronzers and self-tanners as an alternative to tanning beds. Let’s all remember to protect our skin this summer!
More information about this story at USAToday.com.
What is Tanorexia?
Tanorexia is basically an addiction to sun tanning. Tanorexia is a condition in which a person participates in excessive outdoor sun tanning or use of other skin tanning methods (such as tanning beds) to achieve a darker skin complexion because they perceive themselves as unacceptably pale.
Could that “healthy glow” actually be unhealthy?
Absolutely. Keep in mind that a suntan is your body’s natural way of defending itself from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV exposure causes the skin to produce more melanin (the pigment that gives your skin its natural color). While you may enjoy the look of a tan, the UVA and UVB rays also work in ways you may not appreciate as much:
- UV light weakens connective tissues that give your skin firmness and elasticity, resulting in wrinkles and thinner, more translucent skin.
- Hyperpigmentationâ€”usually seen as small dark spots or frecklesâ€”occurs when an excess of melanin is produced in these small patches of skin.
- In extreme cases, overexposure to the UV light can lead to skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Facts and Figures 2009, over 70,000 Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year, and New York State ranks fourth in the nation for the most estimated new cases in 2009 following California, Florida and Texas.*
America’s Next Top Tanorexic is…
It is not surprising that California ranks #1 for melanoma risk with the great number of tanning salons and the abundance of very tanorexic celebs such as the ones pictured above, including Victoria Beckham. However, BeautyNewsNYC also reported last year that there are a growing number of celebrities who are staying away from tanning beds and “fake bakes” and sporting more Geisha-like porcelain complexions (think Anne Hathaway, Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman and Dita von Teese).
Tanorexia Makes You Look Old
As further proof of the need to protect your skin from sun damage, scientists have found through computer imaging that hyperpigmentation directly influences how old we appear to others. Using digital images of 169 women, aged 17-70, the color distribution on each woman’s face was imposed on a generic 3-D form devoid of fine lines, wrinkles, and other traditionally age-defining characteristics. Faces with more even color distributions were perceived to be healthier and younger in appearance.
Protect Your Skin This Summer!
Summer is the time for New Yorkers to flock outdoors en masse to sunny destinations such as Central Park, Coney Island, the Hamptons and Jersey Shore to soak up those intoxicating rays and work on their tans. As great as it feels to be outdoors during the summer, be careful (i.e. not a “tanorexic”) and protect your skin every time you are outside with these summer skincare tips:
- Minimize sun exposure, especially between 10am – 4pm when the sun is at its brightest.
Always protect your skin by applying sunscreen 30 minutes before you step outside.
- If your schedule requires you to be in the sun for extended periods of time, wear protective clothing such as hats, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants.
- Remember that you can burn as easily on an overcast day as a sunny one.
- Be cautious of reflective environmental surfaces such as sand, water, concrete, and snow as these can multiply the power of the sun’s light.
- Stay away from tanning salons, tanorexic conventions, and UV tanning beds, and beware of false advertising claims that indoor tanning with UVA light is safer than sunlight.
- Teach children the dangers of tanorexia and the benefits of proper sun protection from a young age. The effects of sun damage accumulate over their lifetimes, and it is never too early to create good habits.
- Although darker skin is less likely to burn, it is still important for those with darker complexions to protect their skin with sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, wrinkles and other signs of aging.