Sunscreen Guidelines for Patients

Dr. Vivian Bucay recommends following these guidelines when offering sun protection advice to your patients.

Q: Why is sun care so important, not only during the sunny months, but all year long?

Vivian Bucay, M.D., board-certified dermatologist, San Antonio, Texas: Daily use of broad-spectrum sun protection is the single most important step you can take to shield your skin from long term photodamage, premature aging, and even skin cancer. Much of that damage is caused by exposure to the sun’s UVA rays that penetrate deep into the skin. Unlike UVB rays, which cause sunburn and are more intense in the summer, UVA rays easily penetrate window glass and emit essentially the same energy all day long, every day of the year. The damaging effects of UVA are the same at 9 a.m. in December and 4 p.m. in July.

Q: What’s trending in sun care today?

Dr. Bucay: Beyond the surge in mineral sunscreens described in the following question, we are seeing growth in new forms and vehicles to meet consumer needs and preferences. For example, at TIZO we are seeing growth in TIZO® Sheerfoam, a unique lightweight mousse formulation that’s great for men because it spreads so easily and avoids the potential for inhalation inherent in sprays. In keeping with the desire for more natural ingredients, we are seeing a lot of interest in our latest launch, TIZO® Sheer Botanicals, created with mineral sunscreens in a plant-based vehicle.

We also see benefits added to specialty sun care, where sun care is the primary benefit. Examples are a mineral sunscreen that doubles as a primer and a sunscreen that’s specifically designed for the eye area that doubles as an eye cream.

Q: What sun care ingredients are popular in a COVID/post-COVID environment? Why are each beneficial?

Dr. Bucay: The mineral sunscreen ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are not new but are surging in popularity and use. These minerals are inherently gentle. They work by reflecting and scattering UV rays away from the skin, whereas chemical sunscreens absorb the UV energy onto the skin and create heat. Mineral sunscreens don’t penetrate or absorb into the skin, so they don’t cause irritation or make their way into other tissues. In addition, zinc oxide has excellent efficacy across a wider range of UV light than any other approved sunscreen.

The U.S. FDA recently proposed new regulations for sunscreens. In that proposal, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide were the only monograph ingredients identified as GRASE (Generally Regarded as Safe and Effective) without requesting additional data.

Antioxidant inclusion in sun care is also growing as more products pair the UV protection of sunscreens with reduction of damage from Reactive Oxygen Species.

Q: What factors should be considered when picking sun care products?

Dr. Bucay: Ingredients and aesthetic elegance are two critical factors. Look for mineral sunscreens, which are healthy for the skin and the environment. Read the label (“Drug Facts”) carefully to be sure that you are choosing an “all mineral” sunscreen containing just zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide.

Not all mineral sunscreens are created equal. That’s where aesthetic elegance comes in. You want to offer sunscreens that are not only safe and effective, but that your clients will be delighted to use daily. The TIZO® sun protection line includes a variety of all mineral products — from a tinted primer to a non-tinted plant-based body sunscreen — that meet the needs of various skin types. All are sheer and lightweight, blending invisibly on skin, and are fragrance-free.

Q: What are some sunscreen ingredients to avoid?

Dr. Bucay: Oxybenzone and octinoxate. These two chemical sunscreen ingredients have already been banned in Hawaii and Key West because of the harm they cause to coral reefs, and more bans can be expected in the future.

PABA and trolamine salicylate. In the newly proposed FDA regulations these two ingredients, although not widely used, have been specifically called out for safety issues.

In addition to avoiding these and other chemical sunscreen filters, sunscreen sprays should be avoided to prevent inhalation. Whether mineral or chemical, sunscreen ingredients are meant to be on your skin, not in your lungs.

Q: What are some of your most helpful tips for applying sunscreen?

Dr. Bucay: Sunscreen should always be the last layer applied before makeup. If you are using a serum and/or moisturizer, those should be applied first, followed by sunscreen.

The goal is a sheer, even layer. Don’t skimp, but don’t apply too thickly either. Apply to one area at a time to be sure that the sunscreen spreads and blends evenly, covering the exposed area of the skin.