Monthly Archives: May 2011

Sun and Aging Part 7. Do ‘Self Tanners’ Work?

Yes. They are the only safe way to get a ‘tan’. You can do it yourself (and that requires a lot of practice as well as acceptance of many strange versions of a tan), or you can get it done professionally. Brigitte at Sync Salon provides a wonderful organic spray-on tan service.

They are all made from DHA (dihydroxyacetone) which is a simple sugar involved in plant and animal carbohydrate metabolism. It interacts with protein (the amino acid Arginine) located in the outermost layer of your skin. It does NOT penetrate the skin.  It therefore is not permanent and will definitely exfoliate off over time as your skin naturally sheds the dead skin cells. It enables you to determine what shade of a ‘tan’ you want. It has been effectively used for Vitiligo suffers (white patches of skin with no pigment).

NOTE, you still need to wear a mineral sunscreen – DHA is NOT a sunscreen in any way.

Exfoliants like Alpha Hydroxy Acids, Beta Hydroxy Acids, Retinols, Scrubs, Microdermabrasion etc will all cause you to lose your ‘tan’, so exfoliate BEFORE application, NOT AFTER. A single application will last approximately 5 – 7 days.

Sun and Aging Part 6. OTC and prescription drugs that may make your skin more sensitive to the sun and more susceptible to sun damage

Many medications and topical products can cause photosensitivity reactions or increase a person’s risk of developing sunburn. There are possible long-term effects from chronic exposure to the sun and/or tanning apparatus particularly as this relates to photosensitivity reactions.

UVA contributes to sunburn or tanning and also augments cellular damage to contribute to aging effects and skin cancer. UVA may also cause cataract formation and activate herpetic lesions. Drug-induced photosensitivity reactions can occur in both the UVA and UVB range, but are more likely to occur in the UVA range.

Drug-induced photosensitivity, as described in “Color Atlas and Synopsis of Clinical Dermatology” by Fitzpatrick, Johnson, Wolff and Suurmond shows that not all individuals display reactions and not all who do, to the same degree. Drug induced photosensitivity results in the formation of toxic photoproducts such as free radicals. The principal sites of damage are DNA in the cell nucleus as well as the cell membrane. The UVA spectrum is the primary cause of this action. Drug induced photosensitivity can result in immediate sunburns (erythema), delayed sunburn patterns (16 – 24 hrs later), as well as delayed melanin hyperpigmentation (brown spots) in 72 – 96 hours – and later on in life. Indoor tanning apparatus, including salons, booths and beds, use a light source composed of more than 95 percent UVA radiation. As mentioned above, drug-induced photosensitivity reactions are more likely to occur in the UVA range, so tanning apparatus are even more likely to produce drug-induced photosensitivity reactions than natural sunlight. Basically though, the reactions stop with cessation of drug use, but the damage has been done and will continue, and definitely will result in wrinkles and brown spots

It is important to note that any pronounced display of photosensitivity should always be discussed with a dermatologist.

Groups of drugs that can increase sun sensitivity and potential for sun damage:
Anticancer drugs
Antihistamines (e.g. benedryl)
Antipshychotic drugs
Nonsteroidal anti-inflamatories (e.g. ibuprofen, naproxen…)
Acne treatments – e.g. retinoids/tretinoin/accutane/benzoyl peroxide
Oral contraceptives

Some small number of people also display photosensitivity to chemicals like PABA and Avobenzone that are designed to protect the skin from sun exposure in sunscreen formulations. For a full list of products and drugs see Mineral based sunscreens provide the least potential for sensitivity on all skins.

There are also numerous ‘Natural’ products that make your skin more sensitive to the sun and thus more susceptible to sun damage:
This is called phytophotodermatitis. It affects all skin types, and results in spotty dark pigmentation. The primary culprits are oil and juice extracts of lime, lemon, wild parsley, parsnips, carrot greens, figs, and meadow grass. Perfumes and after shaves containing oil of bergamot and musk ambrette will also produce phytophotodermatitis and the resulting long term effects on your skin..

Check out the FDA information at

What can you do about mitigating these sun sensitivity issues if you have no choice but to use the drugs or natural remedies mentioned above….
1.   Do not tan,
2.   Keep out of the direct sunlight as much as possible,
3.   Apply a good UVA and UVB mineral sunscreen to your skin EVERYDAY and reapply often during the day if you are spending a lot of time out doors (on average more than 2 hours).

The information provided here is not meant to diagnose or cure any medical conditions. Please see your doctor or a trained medical professional should you have any concerns.

Sun and Aging Part 5. What should I do to try and salvage my skin from the damage I have inflicted upon it?

There are treatments and products that will help you reduce the effects of your past sun indiscretions. The essential steps in your home care regimen, are:
1.   Exfoliate the brown spots and wrinkled skin with an appropriate strength glycolic acid (or a slower acting enzyme if your skin does not tolerate the glycolic). A low pH glycolic is more irritating to the skin so not appropriate for sensitive and weaker (unbalanced) skins. Options: Clear Skin Ultra Gel (3.9pH – mildest), Age Limit (3.5pH – mid strength), Glyco-A-Gel (3.2pH – strongest). Some people prefer retinols or prescription strength retinoids to remove brown spots.
2.   Improve the integrity of the epidermis with lipid based creams (see Skin Renu products) if you are exfoliating with aggressive ingredients like glycolic and retinol.
3.   Apply stem cell activating and DNA repairing serums as well as hyaluronic hydrating gels to start building more collagen and elastin fibres in the dermis, and to keep the skin well hydrated for it to carry out more repair and regeneration.
4.   Use a skin brightening gel with licorice extract or bearberry extract to slow the production of melanin (so slowing or preventing the appearance of future brown spots).
5.   Use a good UVA and UVB mineral sunscreen.

In terms of professional treatments, a lite or full strength Jessner Specialised Peel may be appropriate to help remove sun damaged pigmentation from your skin. I will be able to assist you with that decision once I get to know your skin through a regular facial treatment. If your skin is not strong enough and balanced to accommodate a peel of this nature, having one done will probably leave you with highly sensitive and very red skin for a long time afterwards….and may not be worth going through. Please check out the required home care regimen for a Jessner peel – it is quite a committment.

Do the brown spots and rough skin disappear overnight? No, it took you quite a few decades to damage your skin to the point it is at today, so don’t have unrealistic ‘instant gratification’ expectations. Instant gratification treatments are really aggressive and very often lead to longer term damage to the skin. It is the only skin you will ever have so treat it well for the long haul…

The information provided here is not meant to diagnose or cure any medical conditions. Please see your doctor or a trained medical professional should you have any concerns.

Sun and Aging Part 4. Now that the damage is done, why should I bother about sunscreen?

UVA rays constantly damage your skin so unless you dramatically reduce the rate and quantity of this damage, you will never enjoy any benefits from cosmetics or medical procedures aimed at helping you look younger. You will just continue to age at a faster rate than someone who does not tan. Obviously genetics does come to the rescue of some people, but in the end, Mother Nature will ensure that the majority of us will look a whole lot older if we don’t counteract the negative aspects of the sun, than if we did.

A UVA and UVB protecting mineral sunscreen will also protect your skin’s antioxidant enzymes so that they will work effectively at reducing free radical damage to your cell DNA. You will also be able to ensure that the Cell Youth Actif and Hale Dermist hyaluronic serums you use will help you build more collagen that will increase the firmness and moisture content of your skin and thus give you that younger looking skin you are seeking. Further, you will want to prevent even more hyperpigmentation (brown spots) from appearing in the years to come.

For more information view the videos Sunscreen: the critical facts as well as Sunscreen myths

Sun and Aging Part 3. How to wear sunscreen

Find a mineral sunscreen that works on your skin and that makes you feel comfortable wearing it. Wear it everyday. Think of it as a morning mantra of ‘brush your teeth, put on sunscreen’…naturally I would like you to first cleanse your face and apply your age-slowing serums…

Sunscreen should be the last cosmetic you apply to your skin (unless you are wearing makeup in which case your foundation and other makeup items go on top of the sunscreen). You must apply it evenly over all exposed skin – face, neck, décolleté, hands, legs, feet – basically all exposed skin under every day conditions of going about your business whilst wearing clothes. If you are naked and out in the sun, then cover EVERYTHING in sunscreen  Sports people (golfers, tennis players etc), often have sun damage and even cancer on their ears because they forget to apply sunscreen to them….

I highly recommend Mineral Sunscreen SPF 40 for the face and Mineral Sunscreen SPF 35 for face and body. See the video ‘Sunscreens I Love’ Sunscreen: the critical facts as well as Sunscreen myths