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Sunscreen & Antioxidants – Your Sun Protection Power Players


Summer is just around the corner and for many Midwesterners that means it’s time to head up to the lake! Boating, waterskiing, jet skiing, and fishing are some of the most enjoyable parts of this season, but they are also the activities that can result in sunburns and extensive sun damage for thousands of us. With May being National Skin Cancer Awareness month, let’s take a closer look at how you can step up your sun protection game this Summer and still enjoy life out on the water!

Sunburn on woman's back

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the United States than all other cancers combined. 1 in 5 people develop some form of skin cancer by their 70th birthday. With sobering statistics like this, it’s essential to be proactive about how you care for your skin in the sun.

“I recommend sunscreen and antioxidants to all of my patients, especially during the Summer months in Minnesota,” says Amie, a Licensed Esthetician with FACE Cosmetic Skincare. “The combination of these two products is a more sophisticated approach to sun protection that ensures you have all your bases covered,” she continues. “Plus, certain antioxidants can actually reverse sun damage on the cellular level and improve the appearance of your skin over time!”

How does the sun hurt our skin?

The sun emits UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are shorter in length and tend to affect our skin’s surface in the form of a burn and overall inflammation, while UVA rays have a longer wavelength and can penetrate our skin more deeply. This deeper impact can lead to premature aging and extensive cellular damage.

Infographics about UVA and UVB

How do sunscreens work to help protect our skin?

“Sunscreens are generally broken into two categories,” explains Amie. “Physical sunscreens, with ingredients like zinc and titanium dioxide, reflect damaging rays off the surface of your skin,” she says. “Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing rays on the surface of your skin and converting them to light or heat,” Amie goes on. “Although certain formulations can have a bit of a white sheen to them, physical sunscreens tend to be superior in protection because they don’t trap heat against your skin and they have fewer chemical ingredients that can potentially irritate your skin. Regardless of what formulation you use, always be sure that is labeled BROAD SPECTRUM to ensure you are getting protection from BOTH UVA/UVB rays and that the SPF factor is at least 30.”

Infographics about physical sunscreens and chemical sunscreens

How do antioxidants work? How do they help protect our skin?

Many of us are familiar with antioxidants when it comes to our diet, but these vitamins and ingredients are also beneficial when topically applied to our skin because of their ability to neutralize free radical damage.

Free radicals are molecules that are lacking an electron in their outer orbit, or shell. This characteristic is also whey they are called “thieving molecules” because they attempt to balance themselves by taking an electron from any surface they come in contact with; like your skin! When successful, free radical damage will accumulate over time and cause extensive DNA damage to your cells that can lead to cancer, wrinkles, and premature aging.

Illustration of Antioxidant, free radical, and healthy cell

“When you wear an antioxidant serum or lotion, like a Vitamin C & E serum, those ingredients neutralize the free radicals that your skin comes in contact with, therefore preventing oxidative stress to your skin” explains Amie. “What’s even better is that many of these antioxidants like Vitamin C, also help brighten your skin tone and can improve how your skin functions and appears over time.”

Some of the most common and powerful antioxidants that you will find in skincare today are:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Polyphenols
  • Glutathione
  • Coenzyme 10
  • Flavonoids
  • Niacinamide
  • Resveratrol

“When you combine the power of sunscreen AND an antioxidant, it’s literally like wearing armor on your skin,” smiles Amie. “This is crucial if you’re serious about protecting your skin from potential skin cancers, but also for age prevention,” she explains. “We now know that sun exposure causes almost 90% of visible aging on the skin, so if you’re not wearing a sunscreen and antioxidant for cancer prevention, do it for vanity!”

Would you like to be matched up with your perfect sunscreen and antioxidant for this Summer? Schedule a complimentary consultation with Aimee, or another Face Cosmetic Skincare licensed esthetician by calling (651) 632-9700.