Although the study notes that further research is needed to investigate the actual UVA protection provided by the products, the researchers conclude that many day creams do not offer long wave UVA protection.
The BBC run the Horizon Programme with a title “The truth about looking young” on Monday 23 July 2012. The introduction to the programme says. “Plastic surgeon Dr Rozina Ali leaves the operating theatre behind for the frontiers of skin science and asks if it is possible to make your skin look younger without surgery. She discovers the latest research about how the foods we eat can protect our skin from damage, and how a chemical found in a squid’s eye is at the forefront of a new sun protection cream. She also finds out how sugar in our blood can make us look older, and explores an exciting new science called glycobiology, which promises a breakthrough in making us look younger.”
There is an interesting finding to follow, however, the programme was in my view slightly unbalanced and two-dimensional, featuring primarily Unilever and L’Oreal research.
Skin is a visible and large organ – 20 square feet. Facial skin defines us – it is the first thing we look at when approaching other people. We all look for credible evidence in terms of our skincare products. By now, we understand the daily battle with the sun that degrades our collagen fibres – these normally give skin youthful volume and plumpness. When destroyed, skin deflates, wrinkles and saggs. A study of lorry drivers shows that glass filters out UVB – the short wavelength that burns us – but not UVA. Prof Chris Griffiths from the University of Manchester explains that there are more deep wrinkles on the right side of our face compared to left. (Also the eye brow is lower (sagging) and the nasolabial line might be more pronounced (Marionette line)).
And that is the interesting finding: Even in people that are not driving for living, the right side of their faces has more/deeper wrinkles than left – just from everyday driving!
UVA ages, UVB burns. Sunscreen every day is imperative and also 5 star UVA protection.
Today, most mainstream skincare products include UVA protection in combination with UVB protection (SPF). Research studies, like the one above, show the impoartance of consistent, daily use of skincare products with both broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection to help protect skin form the sun ageing effects all year round and help maintain the skins elasticity and firmness. UV A penetrate not only glass but also clowds, causing direct damage to collagen and elastin. SPF protects skin against the tanning and burning. The SPF number indicates the ability of a sun protection product to filter out UVB rays. An SPF 15 will filter out approximately 93 % of UVB rays and SPF 30 will filter out around 96 %. An SPF 15 and SPF 30 are recommended in skincare for autum/winter and spring/summer period, respectively.
Research shows that not all daily moisturising creams that contain UV filters and claim to provide broad spectrum UV protection provide UVA protection. Day moisturisers are an established part of our skincare routine and skincare manufacturers are increasingly adding UV filters to skin care products as the link between UV radiation and photo-ageing progresses has been proven.
A review of the ingredients of the 29 top selling day creams with claims of broad spectrum UV (using sales volumes from the US website Amazon) assessed the level of UVA protection that could be expected from the product, looking for the presence of the UVA filters – avobenzone, octocrylene, ecamsule (L’Oreal patented Mexoryl SX) and zinc oxide.
- 6 of these 29 products contained no active ingredients that provide UVA protection.
- 7 of the remaining 23 contained zinc oxide but only 3 contained levels greater than 5 % required to provide ‘adequate’ UVA protection.
- 16 products contained avobenzone but only 3 had adequate concentrations of octocrylene necessary to stabilise the avobenzone, notoriously unstable on contact with UV rays.
The tanned face is attractive but over-exposure to the UV light is damaging to the skin cell’s DNA and causes sunburn (in severe cases also blistering and pain). Take care and prevent skin cancer (melanoma), now the most common cancer amongst women in their 20s!
Stay Safe in the Sun
- Avoid the sun during the hottest part of the day, between 11am and 3pm. Find shade under umbrellas, trees or other shelters.
- Always cover up, sunscreen alone is not enough. Wear T-shirts, wide-brimmed hats and UV protective sunglasses.
- Apply sunscreen generously, also when travelling as sun will still have an effect on your skin through the windows.
- Use sunscreen with UVB protection of at least SPF 30 (SPF 50 for children and people with pale skin) and also high UVA protection.
- Keep babies and young children out of direct sunlight!
If concerned about changes in your skin following sun exposure – particular attention should be paid to moles that change in shape, size or colour – consult a local specialist. FaceWorkshops have teamed up with a Consultant Dermatologist, Dr James Britton, at Spire Hull and East Riding Hospital. You can see him privately or your GP can refer you via the NHS, please call for his contact details.