SKIN

Should you be using medical grade sunscreen?

Hi Dr. Irwin ….what is the difference between sunscreen and medical grade sunscreen?

There’s often a huge difference!  It’s because most of the drugstore sunscreens use a combination of chemicals that don’t block UVA very effectively.  And even if they have zinc its less than 5% or  really chalky and unpleasant to use.

Why you care about UVA.

UVA generally won’t burn you, although it can.  Think about that burn you got being out a long time on a cloudy day.  But……..it goes deeper into the skin and does more damage to our collagen, elastic fibers, and blood vessels in the skin. This causes sagging, wrinkles, yellowing, and coarse texture.  Zinc is the only sunscreen ingredient commonly available that blocks UVA (to 380nm) well and also blocks UVB.  Titanium (also a mineral) is next best.  Look for zinc dominant sunscreen with a percentage between 9-20% depending on how much you are outside or in a window area.  UVA goes through most window glass, including your car.

Why you don’t care much about SPF as long as it’s over 30-40.

The sunscreen industry loves to focus consumers on SPF.  This is because it’s easy to remember, most consumers won’t dig deeper, and the sunscreens are cheap to produce.  They DO help prevent sunburns!  SPFs are misleading.  SPF only refers to UVB …nothing else.  Also, an SPF 30 reduces about 90-95% of the UVB available.  An SPF 60 is NOT double that.  You only get a small extra percentage increase from a 60 versus a 30.

What to look for in a sunscreen.

Zinc in a sunscreen between 9-20% is the best. These are generally “medical grade” sunscreens.  Please look in our shop at sunscreens for examples.  Look for Zinc plus maybe 1 other chemical sunscreen added, or zinc and titanium.  Avoid if you can as a primary ingredient……avobenzone, meradimate, oxybenzone, octocrylene, PABA, homosalate, octinoxate, ensulizole, octisalate.  For example, our MadisonMD Everyday Clear or the Tinted …as zinc 12%, and a little octinoxate.

I hope this helps,

Dr. Brandith

 

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