It’s also time to get rid of all that sun damage that your skin accumulated over the past several months… and not just to look better. Sun spots of any color (brown, red, black or blue) can be, or can become, dangerous if they turn into something more than just a little extra pigment. Don’t forget, the sun is a giant ball of radiation that not only burns the skin’s surface, but also damages it’s DNA, which is how skin cancers begin.
Keep Reading to learn more about the 3 P’s of Sun Protection so that your skin looks fabulous, and so that you keep the number of damaged cells to a bare minimum…
- This just in… you have to use SPF for it to work! Don’t be guilty of leaving your sunscreen in your purse or in your medicine cabinet! Nowadays, there are plenty of wonderful cosmetics that have some level of SPF, and there are a myriad of wonderful light sunscreens that can be worn under makeup. Make sure that you have something with a sun protection factor on your skin every time you leave the house… summer, winter, fall and spring.
- UVA vs UVB. UVB rays are the key to sun damage because UVB rays are the ones that burn and damage your skin (remember UV”B” for burning). The only product that really blocks UVB radiation is zinc oxide, which is not a standard ingredient in most over the counter sunscreens. The problem is that there are not many great options for clear, light, non-comodogenic versions of this product. Keep reading for our #1 recommendation for a zinc oxide sunscreen…
- Recommended Products. There are two products that I never go anywhere without. 1) La Roche Posay Antihelios Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid. My skin tends to be oily, so I’ve spent years testing products in the search for a sunscreen that doesn’t feel like I have a mask on, and doesn’t smell like I’m on vacation. La Roche’s Ultra Light Fluid sunscreen is the first product that accomplishes all three of these goals! It’s so light that it feels like I have nothing on, it has almost no odor, and it protects my sensitive skin very well in even the strongest sun. 2) Dermaquest Clear Zinc Sunscreen. This is, in my opinion, the best clinical sunscreen on the market right now. It’s a clinical grade product, which means that you’ll have to purchase it through a medical office, and that it will cost more than most over the counter products. It’s light enough to wear under makeup, it dries clear even though it has zinc oxide, and it does not clog pores.
- It’s the best way to treat sun damage! IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) therapy is a fantastic way to treat sun damaged skin. The light (sometimes referred to as a “laser”, although it is not technically a laser) is absorbed by the damaged pigment cells on the skin’s surface which causes them to disperse and eventually disintegrate. This naturally leads to less brown and red spots on your skin, which is wonderful, but also gets rid of the damaged skin cells that could potentially turn into pre-cancerous or cancerous lesions in the future.
- What is an IPL treatment like? The treatment itself takes about 30 minutes depending on your level of sun damage, and on whether or not any specific spots or vessels will be targeted. Your skin will be slightly red and warm for up to a few hours (but usually less), so this is a treatment that you could have on your lunch break. Brown spots will look darker initially, and then will slowly start to fade away over the course of the next several weeks. A series of 2-3 treatments ;spaced about 2-3 weeks apart is always recommended for best results, especially when your sun damage is at its maximum right after the summertime.
- Is an IPL treatment the same thing as a “photofacial”? IPL and photofacials both involve Intense Pulsed Light, but they are actually different treatments (or at least they should be). Many media-spas use the terms interchangeably, but this is not accurate. A real IPL treatment involves very fine adjustments in the treatment settings to direct the pulsed light towards specific types of pigments and skin damage. An IPL treatment is longer, more focused, and should be performed by a highly qualified and well trained practitioner. A photofacial also utilizes pulsed light technology, but it is simply one or two passes over your skin with a set of fairly generic settings that aren’t focused on any particular pigment types or levels of skin damage. Think of it this way… a photofacial is like Tylenol, and a real IPL treatment is like Percocet. They both do the same thing, but one is much more effective and requires professional supervision.
- Low Strength. Light chemical peels come in several varieties, but the most common agent is glycolic acid. Glycolic peels are excellent for first timers, but can also be tailored to meet just about any skin care goals. The lightest glycolic peels may only lead to 24 hours of flaking, while the stronger glycolics may leave you flaking for a few days. These peels are only mildly uncomfortable during the treatment, and very rarely lead to problems like hyperpigmentation (dark spots) or hypopigmentation (light spots). Low strength peels are excellent for the spring and summer when the sun is too intense to be using stronger peels.
- Medium Strength. Medium strength peels are typically of the TCA (trichloroacetic acid) or Lactic Acid variety. Your skin will definitely peel (as opposed to flaking) with these agents, but the duration of the peeling can be tailored from 1 to 3 days depending on the concentration of the product. Medium strength peels burn a bit more during the treatment than lighter peels, but they produce a much better result in a much shorter period of time. Plan on 3-4 days of downtime after a medium strength peel, but be prepared for gorgeous bright skin after it’s healed!
- High Strength. Concentrated TCA and phenol are the strongest peels available. These peels are only for peel veterans, or for highly sun damaged skin, and should only be performed a few times a year during seasons when the sun is less intense. The results with high strength peels can be quite dramatic in terms of refreshing the surface of your skin and removing damaged cells, but the risks of temporary hyper or hypopigmentation are slightly higher than with lighter peels, especially when using phenol. Plan on at least 3-4 days of peeling (more with phenol), and at least a full week of downtime with a high strength peel.
If you have any questions about any of the treatments or products listed above, or if you would like to schedule a complimentary skin care consultation, please feel free to visit out website at www.MASNewYork.com or give us a call or text message at 917-703-7069.