Monday, August 18, 2014

Skincare, Sunscreen, Science, and Silliness

According to a few reports I've recently seen, somewhere between 10% and 30% of adults apply sunscreen when exposed to the sun...

We don't listen to really good science when it's provided to us; the link between sun exposure and skin cancer is pretty well documented.

But we DO listen to all kinds of nutty science claims that tell us that our skin will be revolutionized because of some new and amazing ingredient - preferably something natural.


Our capacity to objectively judge claims seems to completely vanish when confronted with the promise of looking younger.  My favorite claim HAS to be anti-gravity.


I like the precision of 212% improvement, or 42% increased firmness.  How is firmness measured?

sigh...

                        Neiman Marcus Last Call (Neiman Marcus)


17 comments:

  1. Janice,
    So true. As I sat at the pool last week, I was amazed at the people, women especially, that were tanning. Not just sitting in the sun with loads of sunscreen and a hat....but trying to become tanner! I was covered with sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and under an umbrella. The recent statement by the Surgeon General (a dermatologist) was quite clear..... tanned skin is damaged skin. And don't even get me started on skincare products. Good post.

    Warmly, Kathleen

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  2. My daughter and I are faithful sunscreen users--I wish I could be around to see my daughter when she's an old woman with great skin!

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  3. My mother who is Irish/Scottish is covered with skin cancer and frequently requires "cutting out" or "burning off". I avoid spending time in the direct sun. Proper cleansing, hydration, a healthy lifestyle and a little extra weight are probably the best skincare "products." Hopefully, your post will discourage readers from believing the false promises of costly potions.

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  4. I can't believe people are still tanning. I just don't get it.

    As for skin care products, well, some have worked wonders for me. So while I don't believe the ridiculous claims, I also know that my skin would not look as good if all I ever used were a $10 moisturizer. (Believe me, I've tried.) There are certain ingredients which do make a visible difference in my skin, and unfortunately for my wallet, the expensive versions usually (not always) perform better than the drugstore versions, even when the "active" ingredients are supposedly the same.

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  5. Speaking of cheap moisturizers, I have a friend in her 70's who has the best skin I have ever seen. Her secret? Vaseline. She is very fair and burned easily, so she never got out in the sun as a kid or as an adult. When she was about 30 her GP told her the regimen to follow. Wash her face morning and night and apply Vaseline right after. Let it sit for a minute or so, then wipe it off with a damp cloth. This is not a person who could afford fancy soaps, so she used/uses none of that. She also has never used makeup beyond lipstick. She followed his advice and looks good today. I am just enough younger than her that I tanned (or got sunburned) and spent a lot of time out on the water until I was about 20. Anybody remember baby oil and iodine? No sunscreens available back then. And I have paid for it with multiple skin cancer removals in many places. My mother worked in the sun her whole life and she had the same skin cancer issues. Oddly, my dad, a bricklayer, also worked out in the sun his whole life and never got a single one. Just my luck, I'd get my mother's skin instead of my dad's.

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  6. I have found recently that sunscreen applied each morning works just like a moisturizer.....I realized this would work when I bought a brown spot preventive and realized it was just sunscreen, only much more expensive!!

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  7. Sunscreen: Don't forget the nose, the whole nose, even the nostril area. (I speak as someone who always, I mean always, wears sunscreen and who never goes to the beach--but who had to have Mohs surgery and a skin flap reconstruction last week because of skin cancer on the very tip of my nose. Looking like the Bride of Frankenstein at the moment, but hoping my zigs will, with time, zag less.)

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    1. Gail, you will be amazed by the results. My husband had the same several months ago and it's the strangest procedure but his scars are fading very quickly. Honestly!! Hugs--Erin

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    2. Gail, I second Erin. I had Mohs 5 years ago and also felt like the Bride of Frankenstein at that point--in technicolor! (Turquoise sutures in the top layer and green, purple, and yellow eyes--mine was near the bridge of the nose.) Anyway you can only see the scar if you get very close to my face, and I had a half-inch "crater" there before they stitched me up. I've been wearing sunscreen for decades, but the doctor thinks this one was probably from exposure in my childhood before we knew better. So even dedicated sunscreen wearers should be sure to inspect their skin regularly. Leslie

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    3. Erin and Leslie, thanks so much for your reassuring notes. Yes, there's no doubt that sun exposure in childhood is the main culprit for all of us--and that unprotected exposure takes a few decades to cause serious problems. I'm realizing now that, no matter what, it's a good idea for persons over the age of 40 or so (I'm way over the age of 40!) to have a dermatologist's check-up every year. I didn't see anything at all suspicious, I actually had a person giving me a facial tell me that the skin on the point of my nose FELT as if I might have some cancerous or pre-cancerous cells! So, maybe everyone should treat herself to a yearly facial too!

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  8. I wear sunscreen as we are boaters and we get a double dose of rays as they are reflected off the ocean...a good friend of mine had skin cancer and we all wear hats and sunglasses too.
    I have been tempted by some skin care products but found most were not worth the price. I love L'Occitane almond oil and lotion and use Avene face wash and cream for sensitive skin as I have rosacea.
    Always read the labels to see what the company outs in a product.
    You have a very good message today.

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  9. Sunscreen: reapply often.

    I live in the south and learned years ago from my excellent dermatologist something most women don't adhere to; you must reapply sunscreen throughout the day. For example, if you layer it under your makeup in the morning, another coat would be required mid morning. Sunscreen effectiveness, no matter what SPF value, diminishes after several hours.

    Very few woman remove their makeup, apply sunscreen and then reapply their makeup during the day. His suggestion was to make sure you are covered with hats and clothing. I've even noticed a difference in the left and right sides of my body just from a daily car commute.

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  10. Sunscreen is the only thing with data showing that it makes you appear younger if you apply it daily! This link is a decent summary of the actual journal article in June 2013 Annals of Medicine: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/03/slathering-on-sunscreen-shows-results-researchers-find/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

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  11. I am pale redheaded person (with very few freckles at all) and I have never tanned. There was never any point. So, now I am in my 40s and am always being asked "what do you use?" And "what have you had done?" As apparently I look much younger than I am. They don't want to hear that its sunblock and just staying out of the sun.

    Baking yourself in the sun will turn you old - just as you leave a tomato out to make sundried tomatoes. Same process.

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  12. Are you telling me that there are no miracle creams, Janice? I'm devastated!!! I don't remember putting on suntan lotions as a child and I'm pretty sure that I only used baby lotion when I was working in Gibraltar over 40 years ago and went out in the sun! The only time I burnt while I was there was when a friend persuaded me to go down to the beach and said she had some suntan oil I could put on. Luckily I'm not a sitting in the sun type of person - I get bored too easily. Nowadays, living in Spain, I use suntan lotions religiously, always walk or sit in the shade and avoid the heat of the day whenever possible.

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  13. While I agree with all the good advice about covering up, it is important to be aware of one downside, which has been linked by some (but not all) specialists to the extent to which we do all use high factor protection these days: Vitamin D deficiency. My doctor just told me that 80% of the population of our city are Vitamin D deficient - in my case severely so, for which I have been prescribed supplements. There are a host of issues raised by Vitamin D deficiency, the most recent being evidence of a probable link to the development of dementia. The last recommendation I saw was for modest exposure of 10-15 minutes daily - not by any means heavy sunbathing, of course.

    auntkitten's comment about reapplying is spot on - as is remembering that high factor sun cream is supposed to protect you more for the same time of exposure - not to allow you to be exposed for excessive amoutns of time. The same articles I read about the Vitamin D issue also mentioned that some sun-worshippers are causing themselves more problems because they think they can sta in intense sun longer.

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