May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and with summer just around the corner, we want to help you understand how important it is to use sunscreen with a proper SPF to protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun, even while indoors.
What many people are unaware of is that with the increasing use of phones, computers, and tablets, it is also important to make sure to protect the skin from visible light. Dermatologists in the United States are recommending to their patients products that, in addition to protecting the skin from electromagnetic radiation, provide complete coverage.
Dr. Ana Cristina Laureano, a board-certified dermatologist focused on delivering comprehensive general and cosmetic dermatological care to both adults and children, spoke with BELatina News about the ingredient that is revolutionizing the industry, in which product we can find it, as well as the difference between sunblock and sunscreen.
What is the difference between sunblock and sunscreen?
Perusing the aisles of your local drug store, you may notice that some sun protection products say sunscreen and some say sunblock. You may be surprised to know that there is a difference between the two!
A sunblock literally blocks out the sun’s UV rays. The product sits on top of the skin and reflects the sun’s rays away from the skin, essentially blocking these harmful rays from penetrating the skin. As a dermatologist, we call this a physical sunscreen. When you read the label of a sunblock it will have titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide as the active ingredients.
A sunscreen filters or screens the sun’s rays. These products contain a chemical compound responsible for absorbing and diminishing the sun’s ultraviolet rays. So sunscreens transform the sun’s UV rays into non-damaging wavelengths of light and heat. Reading the label of a sunscreen you will find active ingredients such as cinnamates, salicylates, and benzophenones like oxybenzone or avobenzone. As a dermatologist we refer to this as a chemical sunscreen.
Why is it so important to use them?
Sunscreen and sunblock are both excellent forms of sun protection. It is so important to use either form as the sun can have harmful effects on your skin. The sun emits both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are known as “aging” rays and are responsible for fine lines and wrinkles and also pesky dark stains and spots on the skin. UVB rays are known as “burning” rays and are responsible for causing sunburns and skin cancers like melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, or squamous cell carcinoma.
I always suggest that you read the label and pick a sunscreen or a sunblock that protects against both UVA and UVB rays (it will say “broad spectrum” on the label), has a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or greater, and is water-resistant. It is also important to reapply every 2 hours. A life hack that helps me to remember to reapply is a recurring alarm on my cell phone set for every two hours!
What happens to the skin when we expose it to the light of our phones, computers, and tablets?
The light that is emitted from our cell phones, computers, and tablets is called visible light. It is a high-energy, short-wavelength light that is also known as “blue light.” The recent evidence shows that blue light can contribute to pigmentation and brown spots on the skin, and worsen a skin condition called melasma. In addition, studies have shown it can contribute to photoaging, leading to the breakdown of collagen, thus causing wrinkles and loose skin.
It is important to note that your sunscreens and sunblocks may not protect against visible light. The inclusion of a tint (like a tinted sunscreen) or iron oxide protects against visible light. You can read this on the label of sunblock or sunscreen but will be found in the inactive ingredient list.
Why are dermatologists swearing by products with iron oxide, like “Flawless Creator”? Can I use it every day?
Dermablend’s Flawless Creator Lightweight Foundation is a zero weight, full-coverage liquid foundation, which is formulated with only 10 ingredients. Created oil-free and noncomedogenic, Flawless Creator features high-performance pigments that give full coverage in one swipe without leaving makeup looking heavy or cakey. The water-free formula, which is dermatologist-tested and follows Dermablend’s strict Skin Security Standards, shies away from harmful ingredients that clog pores to deliver a flawless finish that lasts up to 16 hours, with every application. This foundation can be used every day and is suitable for all skin types, tones, and conditions.
Also, as a dermatologist I love this product because it contains iron oxide! Thus if you use it daily it will protect you from visible/blue light! In addition, given that it is a liquid pigment, you can add it to your favorite sunblock or sunscreen to transform it into a tinted sunscreen, protecting you from UVA, UVB, and visible/blue light.
Can sensitive skin use “Flawless Creator”?
Because Flawless Creator Lightweight Foundation follows Dermablend’s strict Skin Security Standards and is dermatologist-tested for safety, this foundation can be used on sensitive skin without causing any harm.
Why do you think skin cancer is skyrocketing among Latinos?
Melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer rates are rising in Latinos across the globe. Sadly, most diagnoses are now occurring at an advanced stage of the disease, resulting in a poorer prognosis. Why is this?
It is accurate to say that Latinos with a darker complexion have more protection, (than Caucasians), from skin cancer because of increased melanin production (melanin is produced by cells called melanocytes and provides some protection against skin damage from the sun), BUT increased protection does not equal immunity. No one is immune from skin cancer and it does not discriminate. I do believe that some Latinos may consider themselves low risk for developing skin cancers because of this so-called “protection.” Furthermore, the studies do show the use of sunblock and sunscreen is not yet common in the Latino population in the United States. Moreover, Latinos may face other obstacles to healthcare such as lack of health insurance and/or language barriers. Without appropriate access to healthcare in this population; later presentations of skin cancer will occur.
Increased awareness of skin cancer and ways to prevent it has the potential to decrease incidence, increase early diagnosis, and improve outcomes among Latinos. Physicians can help to educate Latino patients in a culturally appropriate manner on skin cancer risk factors and how to identify abnormal lesions. I strongly believe that education and access to healthcare are the only ways to change these statistics.