May 23

Sunscreen Breakdown – What You Need To Know

What’s in your sunscreen is just as important, if not more important as its SPF number. When deciding which sunscreen to purchase, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the multitude of choices out there. This is why Dr. Palm talked recently with Elle.com to discuss the differences between the two main “groups” of sunscreens and why one is very much superior to the other. The active ingredients in sunscreens are what separate the good from the not-so-good – and they are divided into two broad categories: physical and chemical. 

Physical vs. Chemical – The Breakdown

What they’re made of

Physical sunscreens are often referred to as “natural” sunscreens, because they are made up of either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (or both).  These are the only FDA-approved physical sunscreens and are both minerals, which is the reason they are often labeled as “natural.” 

Chemical sunscreens are made up with ingredients that are often hard to pronounce, such as avobenzone, oxybenzone, homoscalate, octinoxate and octocrylene. 

How they work

Physical sunscreen agents work by reflecting light that reaches the skin’s surface back into the environment. Many dermatologists, Dr. Palm included, prefer a physical-based sunscreen for this very reason. Zinc oxide has excellent coverage across the UV spectrum, even better than titanium dioxide, and published scientific literature shows that neither of the two are absorbed from the skin’s surface into the body. In fact, even micronized forms (where particles of sunscreen are invisible to the naked eye) cannot and do not penetrate the surface of the skin. They simply sit atop the skin’s surface, acting as a shield and reflecting the light back into the environment.

Chemical sunscreens work by converting light energy into heat on the surface of the skin, which may contribute to sun damage to the skin over time. The heat causes inflammation on the skin, which can cause premature aging. Anyone with melasma should be very weary of chemical sunscreens, as the heat produced on their skin by chemical sunscreens can further aggravate their pigmentation.

What to Look For When Shopping For Sunscreen

Dr. Palm recommends looking at the active ingredients on the label of the product. A physical sunscreen should list zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or both. She recommends using a zinc-based sunscreen with a 7% or higher concentration of zinc oxide. It’s also important that a sunscreen has an SPF of 30 or more and that it states it is “broad spectrum,” meaning it protects against both UVA and UVB. 

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Nov 21

Why We Love Mineral Makeup, And You Should Too!

This time of year brings many social gatherings, our calendars are filling up with fun parties and outings as we are sure yours are! We all want to look our best, so for many of us, that includes glamming up with our favorite outfits and of course having a bit of fun with makeup! There are so many choices out there, so we want to break the basics down for you and give you the information to be able to choose the right foundation for your skin's needs.

Benefits – Why We Choose Mineral Foundation

These foundations are great because the main ingredients in most of them (zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, ferrous oxide) are either anti-inflammatory, provide great sunscreen protection (as a physical blocking agent), or provide natural, mineral-based color for the skin.  They are ideal for many skin types, but in particular can help calm sensitive and rosacea prone skin and the anti-inflammatory properties of many of the formulations help to improve acne prone complexions.  The mineral based foundations work great with oily complexions, helping to absorb unwanted shine.  Newer liquid mineral foundations are better for mature skin, and don’t settle in fine lines the way earlier formulations sometimes could.

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Apr 4

Glowing Skin: Harper’s Bazaar Features Dr. Palm

First, Art of Skin MD continues to be trailblazing when it comes to cosmetic trends for Spring and getting glowing skin.  This month, I am featured as an expert that spills the secrets on getting glowing skin.  In the April issue of Harper's Bazaar on newsstands now, you can get my dermatology secrets to amazing skin with topical skin care products. Skin care product recommendations with Dr. Palm Art of Skin MD Harper's Bazaar In this two page feature, I divulge some of my favorite secrets to glowing skin for summer. Continue reading

Jul 27

Do It Yourself (DIY) Tips – Home Remedy Sunburn Relief

Sunny days in San Diego, California mean ample exposure with the sun.  Unfortunately, prolonged exposure, or lack of good sunscreens, can cause a nasty sunburn.  When you get a sunburn, your skin turns red and hurts. If the burn is severe, you can develop swelling and sunburn You may even feel like you have the flu -- feverish, with chills, nausea, headache, and weakness. A few days later, your skin will start peeling and itching as your body tries to rid itself of sun-damaged cells. If the unfortunate occurs, and you do experience a sunburn, what can one do to create sunburn relief? Continue reading

Jul 4

New FDA Rules on Sunscreens – What San Diego Adults and Kids Need to Know

Lovetoknow.com recently contacted me (Dr. Palm) wanting to know the scoop on changes in Sunscreen Labeling for the coming year according to the new FDA 2012 Rule.  Here are some of their questions and my answers below.

  1. The FDA's new sunscreen regulations can make consumers worried and confused. How can they be sure they are choosing sunscreen that offers adequate and appropriate protection for their needs?   "There are two important things to look for...1. That the sunscreen is "broad-spectrum" meaning that it covers both UVA and UVB rays and that the SPF is sufficient. The FDA recommends a Sun Protection Factor of 15, many dermatologists including myself prefer at least 30 SPF." 2. Consumers could also be confused about UVA and UVB protection. Can you briefly explain the, and why people need to be protected from both kinds of rays?and UVB cover different wavelengths of the ultraviolet spectrum of light radiation.  UVA are longer wavelengths (340-400 nm)--I usually tell patients that the "A" in UVA stands for "Aging"--UVA can cause skin aging effects related to significant sun exposure and UV exposure. These include sun spots, pigmentation, and wrinkling related to sun exposure. UVA has been related to some melanomas."  
Melanoma screening by Dr. Melanie Palm, a cosmetic surgeon in San Diego diagnosed this melanoma early
UVB are shorter wavelengths (290-320 nm). UVB is blocked by window glass, but UVA is not. The "B" in UVB can bring to mind "Burning." UVB is related to the red sunburn response seen after significant sun exposure. UVB is strongly related to the formation of nonmelanoma skin cancers including basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Because both wavelengths have carcinogenic potential, a broad band spectrum sunscreen protecting against UVA and UVB is necessary.
Squamous cell carcinoma in San Diego

Squamous cell carcinoma of the scalp

  3. Many people buy sunscreen according to the SPF level. Under the new guidelines, will the SPF level still be as important, or is it more important consumers purchase one labeled broad spectrum?   "As explained above, these labels mean different things. SPF refers to the level of UVB protection. Broad spectrum coverage refers to the sunscreen's ability to protect against both UVA and UVB. Both are important, and understanding the difference is crucial to selecting an adequate sunscreen." 4. How will consumers be able to tell the difference between a sunscreen that was labeled according to the new regulations?   "These are relatively subtle changes in nomenclature--the way of describing the sunscreens. Waterproof is gone, replaced by water resistant and very water resistant. Broad spectrum will mean coverage against both UVA and UVB." 5. Many budget-conscious consumers purchase sunscreen at discount and closeout stores. After the FDA deadline, will these places still be able to carry sunscreen with the old labels? If so, what should consumers look for in the labeling to be best protected?   "My understanding is that these products can still be displayed as long as they are not expired. Products manufactured after the new FDA rule is in place will have to abide by the new Rules. Consumers should look for labels stating both UVA and UVB coverage. Ingredients such as zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, Mexoryl, and avobenzone (oxybenzone) are key ingredients for adequate UVA coverage. An SPF of 30 or above should be sought for adequate UVB coverage." 6. The new rules won't allow sunscreen to be labeled waterproof, only water-resistant. How long does a sunscreen, even one labeled water-resistant, really last?   "Water resistant is defined as sunscreen effective for at least 40 minutes of activity in the water. Very water resistant allows for 80 minutes. Sunscreens are strictly tested to be awarded this designation. However, patients are encouraged to reapply sunscreens after heavy activity including water sports by many dermatologists. At a minimum, most dermatologists recommend reapplication every hour and one-half to two hours when outside." 7. Do you have any other tips on what individuals should consider when it comes to purchasing their sunscreen protection?   "Choose a formulation you will use. If a product is thick and a body area needing to be covered is hair-bearing, this does not make for a good outcome. Apply sunscreen evenly and liberally. Rub in spray on products. Furtermore, the vast majority of consumers under-apply sunscreen. A full one-ounce should be applied to the body with each application (size of a shot glass). This means a typical bottle of sunscreen should only last 4 applications."
Proper sunscreen application is explained by Dr. Melanie Palm, a board-certified dermatologist in San Diego, CA

Proper amount of sunscreen (1 oz.) for full body application