• Lynn Gallagher

I Am Still Inside, Do I Need Sunscreen and Antioxidants Daily?

Fun Fact: May is National Skin Cancer Awareness month and May 27 is National Sunscreen Day

Why do I need sunscreen if I am not outside in the sun during quarantine?

Would you be skeptical if I said you actually CAN use sun protection while your spending hours inside? I was skeptical, too. But, the answer is YES. Now, maybe you don't need your highest level of broad-spectrum chemical sunscreen because you're not directly exposed to the harmful UVA/UVB rays the sun emits while you're outside. HOWEVER, hear me out!

As much as I want to be ocean-side, soaking up the sun (while covering up with linens, hats, and sunnies), majority of my time (and for most of us) is being spent indoors. So, why do we need sunscreen, still?

1. Using a zinc-based mineral sunscreen protects your skin from the UVA rays that can penetrate through windows to prevent photo-damage and aging. UVA rays can compromise the collagen in your skin (yielding wrinkles), create dark spots, and lead to a weakening of the elasticity/collagen fibers that keep your skin taut, strong, and subtle.

2. In addition, research (source: Dr. Joshua Zeichner Dermatology) is suggesting blue light emitted from our screens may contribute to possible damage to our skin's cells. Studies are still being conducted to understand if this hypothesis is supported, but we already know how blue light can affect our levels of melatonin, which regulates healthy sleep cycles. It is suggested that in order to potentially slow the negative effects blue light can have on collagen, one could use a mineral-based sunscreen with zinc oxide and antioxidants to filter out this light.

As we know, 90% of aging comes from photodamage from the sun's harmful rays - so when in doubt - use your broad-spectrum sunscreen to allow your skin to defend itself against harm...even while you're inside- it won't hurt!

Do I need antioxidants like Vitamins A, C, E if I am not exposed to the elements outside daily?

To further the point above, for safe measure, stick to your skincare routine as you normally would. Because the seasons are shifting (here on the east coast), its best practice to start to switch out some of your skincare products as well. Rule of thumb: your skincare changes like your wardrobe. Every 3-4 months, I need to re-up on products and rotate in terms of what will benefit my skin concerns. For example, as a combo skin type, in the winter I need more fatty acids, oils, and balms to combat my dehydration whereas in the summer, as my oil production is more active, I take out heavier oil-based products and swap for lighter, hydrating humectants. Moreover, I up my Vitamin C/E usage to twice a day and reduce my vitamin A usage to three times per week.

Let's say a little bit more about Vitamin A specifically. Vitamin A can have an irritating/sensitizing effect on some so you MUST up your usage of broad-spectrum SPF (30 or above) when you are using a Vitamin A product (the over-the-counter retinol will be the term used hereafter)

Understanding Retinol:

- when it comes to determining what is best for over-the-counter retinol, know that like most things - all products are not created equally

- retinol is a derivative of vitamin A and comes in many forms, these derivativess must be able to convert to retinoic acid in order for the skin to receive and benefit from it

- retinyl palmitate (a common ingredient in come "retinol" products) is not photosensitizing as other retinoids but is not as effective

- retinol boosts the results of your AHAs, so air on the side of caution with other exfoliants when beginning

What to look for:

- dark, opaque packaging to ensure your product has not oxidized and therefor lost efficacy

- concentration level (in terms of percentage) and stability: start with lower percentages (.5-1% is best for beginners)

- formulations with encapsulated retinol is best to ensure concentration/efficacy

- formulations with l-ascorbic for additional brightening, tightening, anti-aging benefits (which remain fresh during the first of using few weeks with no oxidation when properly stored and in right containers)

What to avoid:

- fillers and irritating preservatives (parabens and sodium benzoate)

- avoid exposing your product to the light

- avoid if pregnant or nursing

How to use:

- have a consistent regimen in place and know that your skin's barrier is healthy, intact, and strong enough to withstand a retinol (you should not be in the state of sensitzation, reactivity, inflammation, etc)

- introduce the proper concentration into your routine, three times a week to start

- only use retinol at night to over photosensitivity

- balanced with other products that nourish the skin and promote healthy barrier function

How to get the best results without side effects:

- retinol will have an instant exfoliating effect from the properties of the acids, so its best to be gentle when first starting

- retinyl palmitate gives the achieved results without harsh side effects (not as effective in terms of resurfacing)

- make sure to use SPF 30+ daily

What to expect:

- may have a retinoid reaction such as temporary dryness, redness or flakiness which should not last for the long run and can later help your skin reach its ultimate level of results without reaction

- purging is common if your skin is "ingesting" too much of the vitamin and cannot use it: you may experience a few breakouts but it is commonly not damaging to the skin and doesn't last long-term

- you must first get accustomed to retinol and over the course of about 12 weeks, you will start to see results so be patient and consistent!

Curious as to how to introduce a retinoid into your routine or make a switch in your current product"? Let's chat in a virtual skin consultation!

*This page includes affiliate links that will benefit me if you make purchases. These companies take from their pockets to give me a small portion as a "thank you", not from your pockets*.

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