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With so many conflicting messages about sunscreen types, numbers and ingredients we went straight to the expert on all things sun and skin safety to find out what Dermatologist, Dr. Gary Goldfaden MD recommends for everyone. 

Physical sunscreens create a barrier on the skin that filter out UV rays, while chemical sunscreens absorb and scatter the sun’s harsh UV rays. Discover the 411 on Sun Screen breakdown.

What is a physical sunscreen? 

A physical sunscreen contains physical blocking ingredients such as Zinc or Titanium oxide. Both of these ingredients sit on the surface of the skin creating a protective barrier from UVA and UVB rays and deflect and scatter damaging UV rays away from the skin. They are white in color and work immediately on application. Another type of Physical block can be clothing. 

What is chemical sunscreen?

Chemical sunscreens have to be absorbed into the skin and then they are able to absorb the UV ray. Common chemical sunscreens are made up of ingredients such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate and avobenzone which create a chemical reaction and work by changing UV rays into heat.  

According to Refinery 29, “Chemical ingredients absorb rays instead of deflecting them, and are much lighter on the skin, so they’ve become the more popular pick for brands to formulate around in an effort to make sunscreen people will actually wear. The only problem is that now, years after they were introduced, we’re realising they might not be so safe.The main concern is on oxybenzone and octinoxate, two of the most common sunscreen ingredients that are also toxic for corals. We need the world’s reefs for coastal protection, food, ocean habitats, medicine, and so much more, but experts estimate that 90% of all reefs will be dead by 2050, and sunscreen could play a huge part in that on top of climate change and other stressors. But simply cutting back on chemical sunscreen won’t help — we must completely remove it from the market to see real change. That’s because one study found oxybenzone had a toxic effect on coral at a concentration equivalent to one drop in six and a half olympic-sized swimming pools.

PHOTO: ALEXIS ROSENFELD/GETTY IMAGES. 
Two live corals are pictured in front of bleached white, dying corals. Experts warn that on our current path, 90% of all reefs will be dead by 2050.

Hawaii governor David Ige responded to these startling facts last year by signing a bill banning the sale of oxybenzone and octinoxate, but Felton notes that others, like avobenzone, could be just as dangerous. “We don’t know,” she says. Key West in Florida and the island nation of Palau have followed, and more states, especially California, are likely soon ban the sale of oxybenzone and octinoxate as well.”

Chemical versus physical sunscreen:  

A physical sunscreen is always better than chemical. Chemical sunscreens, due to the nature of having to be absorbed into the skin, can interact and cause irritation, rashes or clogged pores. Another downside to a chemical sunscreen is that the sun has to actually touch and reach the skin, whereas a physical sunscreen is blocking the UV rays from ever touching the skin.

How do we choose?

This is really a personal choice but I always think the more natural the better. You can base this decision on what works best for your skin type and/or your level of health concerns. The best advice for sensitive skin types, who are worried about clogged pores and rashes, would be to patch test a few different types of physical sunscreens as these sit on the surface of the skin and do not penetrate. Remember that clothing is also considered a physical blocker. If you must go in the sun protective clothing, hats and glasses are all recommended in addition to wearing sunscreen. 

How much is enough?

The SPF number represents how long it would take the sun’s UV rays to start to burn your skin if you weren’t wearing any sunscreen. So for example, if you’re wearing a 30 SPF, it would take you 30 times longer to burn than if you weren’t wearing SPF. This is also dependent on your skin tone(melanin) and sensitivity to the sun. A good rule of thumb is to reapply every 30 minutes when in direct sun or after being in the water. However, if you’re very fair and or burn easily consider wearing a higher SPF number and applying more frequently as well as wearing protective clothing.

Discover some of our favorite natural sunscreens from Credo. Stay safe in the sun and Happy Summer!

Hyper-pigmentation is one of the most common complaints from women. Did you know that it is not only caused and activated by the sun but also by heat? This alarming truth is one of the reasons hyper-pigmentation and dark spots are so stubborn and challenging to get rid of.

So what actually happens?

Patches of skin become darker in color due to excessive melanin, the pigment that produces skin color. Types of hyperpigmentation include sunspots, which result from cumulative sun exposure; melasma, which arises primarily in women due to hormonal causes; and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, which arises from an injury or insult to the skin. While these conditions are conventionally treated with toxic topical agents such as hydroquinone, natural agents may also be helpful in managing them.

“Plant-derived agents such as alpha arbutin, kojic acid and birds of paradise have been found to be beneficial in lightening the appearance of the skin and evening its coloration,” says Dr. G!

Heat is also a culprit! Heat whether outside or inside increases vasodilation, which is the dilation or widening of blood vessels. This causes more redness to appear, particularly in areas of melasma. Heat can also lead to inflammation and stimulate melanocyte pigment production. While UV sources like the sun are defiantly enemy number one, there are many other triggers. Hyper-pigmentation can occur from heat sources like overhead LED lights, a BBQ grill, a hairdryer or the temperature in a hot yoga class. Wearing an SPF daily along with an environmental anti-pollution serum and dark spot corrective treatment will help combat many of these.

How to properly protect and treat:

The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Skin: The process of exfoliation is a lot like peeling away the dry, outer skin of an onion to reveal the living layers beneath. Whether the exfoliation is done using mechanical abrasion or a controlled chemical reaction, removing dead and damaged skin cells on the surface allows the fresh new skin underneath to become visible. This newly exposed layer of skin feels much softer and smoother. Its surface reflects light better, making fine lines and other small imperfections harder to see. Age spots and other areas of unwanted pigmentation are less noticeable because the dead skin cells containing the pigment have been removed. Exfoliation unplugs clogged pores and allows for the release of natural skin oils. Regular exfoliation also helps to maintain open pores, decreases pore size, and minimizes many types of superficial scarring. In addition, removing the top layer of dead and damaged cells allows other health-promoting agents such as moisturizers, antioxidants, and collagen-boosting ingredients to better penetrate the skin and work more effectively.

As a bodyguard:

Not only does your skin shield your insides from ultraviolet radiation and other forms of physical damage, it also carries a powerful defense system that seeks out and destroys any foreign invaders that manage to get through. When you consider that every square inch of your skin can be covered with millions of micro-organisms, you can understand how vital this is.

Look at your skin as “in defense” during the day. Integrate antioxidants into your AM regimen.

The nutrient, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the polyphenols found in antioxidants that span across tea, fruit, plant derivatives, have been scientifically proven to combat the effects of photo-aging.  Cumulative exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun produces free radicals that can damage the sensitive lipids, proteins and DNA in your skin cells. This UV-induced damage to your skin can result in gradual loss of tone, wrinkling, discoloration, increased redness, and even cancer. Topical treatment with antioxidants has been shown to help prevent the DNA damage that leads to skin cancer and to support the general health and long-lasting beauty of your skin.

Dr. Goldfaden’s advanced brightening and antioxidant serum help aid against the appearance of photoaging and free radical damage while leaving skin feeling hydrated and looking radiant. Stay protected.

Don’t forget SPF. Here are some of our clean favorites from Credo Beauty. 

A daily regimen is on everyone’s mind, but how many steps and products do you really need? Sadly there is no magic bullet to deliver all our skincare goals, but with 5 easy steps, you can turn back the hands of time and keep your skin looking youthful. Five may sound daunting but below explains why you need each step to achieve glowing healthy skin.

Exfoliate:

The process of exfoliation is a lot like peeling away the dry, outer skin of an onion to reveal the living layers beneath. Whether the exfoliation is done using mechanical abrasion or a controlled chemical reaction, removing dead and damaged skin cells on the surface allows the fresh new skin underneath to become visible. This newly exposed layer of skin feels much softer and smoother. Its surface reflects light better, making fine lines and other small imperfections harder to see. Age spots and other areas of unwanted pigmentation are less noticeable because the dead skin cells containing the pigment have been removed. Exfoliation unplugs clogged pores and allows for the release of natural skin oils. Regular exfoliation also helps to maintain open pores, decreases pore size, and minimizes many types of superficial scarring. In addition, removing the top layer of dead and damaged cells allows treatment ingredients to penetrate the skin and work more effectively.

**Exfoliate your skin two to three times a week, unless you suffer from rosacea or eczema. Depending on the season and climate where you live, exfoliation can be increased or decreased.

Cleanse:

Cleansing or washing the face should happen at least once a day if not twice. Upon waking, washing the face will remove the residue from applied night treatments and regimen. If you choose to cleanse in the AM, make sure to use a cleanser that won’t strip or dry the skin. Cleansing the skin at night is a must! No exceptions here. The skin is exposed to many pollutants from just stepping foot outside your home. Soot, car exhaust, sun, second-hand smoke, and many other pollutants wreak havoc on the skin leaving a layer of dirt and free radicals. Makeup also needs to be removed no matter what.

**Sleeping in makeup is one of the worst things you can do for your skin. Clogged pores will lead to breakouts and or rashes.

Treat:

Pollution releases microscopic particles or free radicals that can go deep into the skin and cause damage to otherwise healthy cells. The outcome is a loss of elasticity (wrinkles and sagging) and Hyperpigmentation (dark spots). Pollution can cause uneven skin tone, dehydration, dryness, dark spots, expedited aging, wrinkles, sagging and deterioration of collagen.  Consider using products that employ the highest regarded pollution fighting ingredients, such as, Organic Red Tea, Ferulic Acid, Vitamin C, Vitamin B, Vitamin E, Retinol and Resveratrol.

Hydrate:

Look for ingredients that hydrate and repair. Plant stem cells are powerful ingredients that hydrate and repair damaged, aging, sagging skin. Organic Red Tea extract also restores important anti-oxidants and Birds of Paradise restore skin’s youthful appearance by reducing uneven skin pigmentation, dull and lackluster complexion resulting in an increased illuminated glow. Plant and botanical based oils are also a terrific way to get hydrated! Loaded with Vitamins C , E and F, Baobob, Kalahari, Marula, and Mongogo oils not only deliver hydration but also overall brightness and luminosity.

Protect:

Sun protection is crucial all times of the year but especially during the summer. Reapplication every hour when in direct sunlight and up to three times daily (AM/Mid—day/Afternoon) when going in and out of indoor/outdoor areas. As a general rule of thumb: if you are going to be outside for 20 minutes or more, SPF is recommended.

** “I always recommend an SPF of at least a 30. Wearing SPF safe clothing, like hats and glasses are crucial and extremely beneficial for sun protection.” Dr. G.