Welcome to DermTV viewer question week for April 2012. Today’s episode will feature questions from YouTube viewers. And don’t forget as part of viewer question week I’ll be answering viewer questions over live streaming video at BeautyRxLive.com, so if you have a question tune in this Wednesday at 2 PM Eastern Standard Time.
Today’s first question comes from Flying Beagles, “People say that most of the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays accumulate during childhood. Is this true? And why is that? If it’s true, than is it too late to start putting on sunscreen now? Thanks Doc”. Flying Beagles, really good question. When I was trained in dermatology the dictum was, 90% of the sun damage occurred before the age of 18. We actually have found out that that’s not true. The sun damage is accumulating and continuing through your entire life, so regardless of how old you are, it is never too late to start putting on sunscreen or to continue using sunscreen because we now believe that sun damage accumulates as long as your exposed to unprotected ultraviolet rays so whether your 15, 25, 65 or 75 use your sunscreen everyday, use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 with UVA protection, reapply it every 2-3 hours and immediately after swimming or sweating and you will have done the most you can to protect your skin from premature aging caused by ultraviolet rays as well as from skin cancer.
Question number two comes from One Beauty Junkie, “Does exfoliation make skin more prone to sun damage? I usually go to the beach in the summer and I use sunscreen, but I like to get a little bit of a tan, I’m afraid to use glycolics in the summer because I'm concerned that I’m getting more sun damage then I would have without exfoliating”. All exfoliants remove the upper, dead layers of the epidermis. Both of those upper dead layers, to a certain extent, act as a screen or a little bit of a sunscreen impeding the penetration of the dangerous ultraviolet rays, so yes if you take off those dead cells you are making your skin ever so slightly more susceptible to the damaging effects from the sun. But, if you’re using an effective sunscreen and a sunscreen properly such as the types we’ve discussed again and again, with an SPF of at least 15 with UVA protection and reapplying it as I described in the answer to the last question, the amount of exfoliation that you’ve done in removing those dead cells is not going to make you any more prone to sunburn or sun damage than if you hadn’t exfoliated. You know that I believe that exfoliation is the single most important therapeutic procedure you can do for your skin on a regular basis. So whether it’s summer or winter, whether you’re going to the beach or not- exfoliate on a regular basis, use your sunscreen properly, to prevent sun damage and you will not be incurring any additional damage as a result of your regular and effective exfoliation.
Question number three comes from Dr. Love 1225, “Is there such a thing as safe sun tanning? I want to get vitamin D the natural way and I’ve read that in order to do that, 15 minutes of bare skin without sunscreen creates a copious amount of vitamin D”. I wonder if Dr. Love is going to be wearing a bathing suit? “What can you say in regards to moderate unprotected sun bathing? For example, 15 minutes a few times a week”. Dr. Love, here is the dilemma. Those fifteen minutes, here or there, whether it’s at the beginning of the day when the sun isn’t as strong, or in the middle of the day when the sun is much stronger. Those fifteen minutes a day without sunscreen are not going to give you any effective levels of vitamin D. And recently, an article was published in a reputable medical journal demonstrating that doing exactly what you’ve described is not going to give you enough vitamin D. And the only way that you’re going to get enough vitamin D naturally is to have so much unprotected sun exposure that you actually would be incurring sun damage whether its just degenerative damage that just causes aging of your skin or actually sick damage that causes pre-cancerous and then goes on to cause cancers. So I’m afraid that to get enough vitamin D from unprotected sun exposure is just dangerous and that’s not the way were going to suggest you do it, there are plenty of ways of getting effective levels of vitamin D from vitamin D supplements without having to incur the risk of dangerous or degenerative sun damage.
Question number 4 comes from Anita who actually signs in as A1N9E8T4A, and by the way Anita, I figured that out, those are the letters of your name and the numbers are 1984 and I will bet that Anita was born in 1984. She says, “Does applying make-up with brushes remove the sunscreen?” very interesting question, “And are there any types of products like powders which contain talc, which can destabilize the sunscreen and therefore reduce its effect? This is what I’ve read somewhere recently and want to confirm if it’s true. Thank you very much”. Anita, very interesting question. The reality is that once you’ve applied your sunscreen and it sets, whether it’s a traditional carbon based sunscreen or a chem-free sunscreen, once it has an opportunity to set, it’s very unlikely that the gentle pressure of a make-up brush is going to do anything to actually harm that sunscreen. And in fact, when we talk about powders, which contain talc and other particles, as those particles settle and themselves set on the skin they just add a certain additional level of sun protection to the sunscreen that’s there because these particles generally tend to be reflectors and reflect dangerous ultraviolet light. So as long as you’re not using a liquid and actually literally eluting or washing off the sunscreen that has already set, and were just talking about applying make-up products with a brush, I think there’s no problem and I think it’s a real good question.
Question number 5 comes from UMASS Kitty; well I guess we know where Kitty goes to school. “Also Dr. Schultz, are night creams in tubs less effective over time than if they were in a press and pump bottle? You see I just got a broad-spectrum lotion SPF 30” –that’s real good Kitty, “And I’m concerned the SPF wears out before I get to use up the entire tub. Thank you very much Dr. Schultz”. Well, the reality is, it’s not going to become any less effective or wear out any sooner in the type of container that you’re talking about and the only thing that bears on sunscreen expiration or whether a sunscreen fails is number one, every sunscreen has a date stamp which is usually two years from the time it was made, that tells you when it expires but the expiration date is only put there by the FDA to guarantee you that the sunscreen will be effective up until that point. After that date, the sunscreen doesn’t explode; it doesn’t all of a sudden become non-effective or ineffective and I believe that these products are effective for a long time after the expiration date. As long as the actual product, the material, hasn’t separated out into two different types of liquids or a water and a cream, as long as it hasn’t separated out, it’s probably still effective. But the real question here, is why would you have sunscreen for two years or for any extended period of time if you’re using it every day and using it regularly? It shouldn’t last that long. I don’t think there’s any danger in what you’ve described as compromising the sunscreen, I really question whether you’re using it enough and often enough to get effective sun protection.
So that’s it for today and don’t forget the subjects from so many DermTV episodes come from your questions which are so great. So please keep sending them in and I’ll keep answering as many of them as I can.