Question: Sunscreens are always the last step of your treatment plans. I hear what you are saying, but sunscreens make my skin breakout– and I’m 34! And if I spend time in the sun, my skin actually clears up and looks geat. Could I be allergic to sunscreens?
Answer: I hear you too!. For years I found that sunscreens didn’t so much prevent a sunburn as they triggered more breakouts. Turned out that many sunscreens contain ingredients that provoke acne. Most contain oils, waxes, and polymers that clog pores. Others have chemical sunscreens like oxybenzone and homosalate that are irritants– and over age 30 acne is often provoked by inflammation rather than excess oils. To get the benefits of a sunscreen without problems, look for oil free physical sunscreens formulated with zinc oxide or titanium oxide. Mineal based powdered sunscreens like Brush -On Block by Susan Posnick provide great touch up durng the day.
I am also feeling your pain about the beauty benefits of a tan. Its absoutely true that in the short run, the sun can decrease oiliness, heal breakouts and even hide discolorations and blur fine lines. However in the long run, the sun rapidly accelerates skin aging. In fact up to age 60, over 80% of skin aging is due to exposure to the UV rays of the sun. Unprotected sun exposure also dramatically increases risk of basel cell skin cancer, squamous cell skin cancer and even melanoma. I find it sobering that melanoma is the leading cause of cancer deaths in young women.
A Safer Tan without Sunscreen
Doctors used to believe that a base tan would protect the skin from further sun damage. We now know this is so not true. There is no safe level of unprotected sun exposure and a sunscreen should be worn year round. To satisfy my craving for tan, I get a spray tan that lasts about a week. It looks so wonderful with a white dress or bathing suit that I strip down and get a full body spray once or twice a year. It costs between $50- 70 a session and is certainly less expensive than skin cancer surgery.