Skin Care

By Andrea Toochin

Summer inspires images of beaches, frozen margaritas and extended vacations. While students bask in the sun on their three-month hiatus’ and mothers drone over the thought of kid-filled days, we editors pine away, looking for the best ways to achieve a natural summer glow, avoid perspiration, and shield the sun.

In America, we’re known for Hollywood, blue jeans and fast food. These may not sound like profound contributions to society, but imagine a world without Star Wars sequels ad finitum, Levi’s and the Big Mac. Step outside the world of pop culture, into science and technology, and we contribute very little to the international science community, outside Silicon Valley companies and Boston area research institutions. It’s this reason skin care companies are setting higher sunscreen standards, comparable to international values. Since the New Year, the FDA has released new policy statements, regulating the labeling of cosmetics and warning against the use of sunscreens with alpha-hydroxy acids, which have been shown to increase skin’s sensitivity to UV rays.

Sun exposure is one area where most people are misled or uneducated. How can we get tanned in the pool, or with clothes on? Why are we at risk of aging, even if we coat ourselves in sunscreen from head to toe? Because there’s no one chemical that blocks all UV rays. Furthermore, most don’t protect against infrared light, which comes closest to the earth’s surface. The latest industry development is Zcote, a clear version of Zinc Oxide, an opaque substance that resulted in an ugly white cream, a physical barrier to the sun. Another substance, Mexoryl, is a UVA blocker developed by Loreal Labs, which is approved almost everywhere but the U.S. They’ve been selling products with Mexoryl in Europe since the early 90s and in Asia since the late 90s, and they even have it in South America and Mexico. It is currently under review by the FDA.

As for the rumors advocating unprotected sun exposure to stimulate vitamin D production, I’m never one to jump aboard an iffy statement, especially one where results may correlate to skin cancer occurrences. Data from a recent American Academy of Dermatology conference concluded that the absorption of vitamin D through UVB exposure is unnecessary. While a fair skinned person can produce vitamin D through minor exposure (five minutes twice a week), those with darker skin and more melanin don’t absorb vitamin D as well. Furthermore, as we age, our ability to synthesize vitamin D worsens. Doctors recommend tapping into vitamin supplements or nutritional sources, ingestible via pills, milk, dairy products, fish or orange juice.

Over the next few years, scientific research will not only bring us new, more protective ingredients, but it’ll also encourage stricter regulations on the part of the FDA. Until then, wear sunscreen year-round, check the expiration date on your sunscreen, and be aware of the medications that make you more prone to sun damage. Don’t go overboard on products that claim to mend all your wrinkles while shielding the sun’s rays. Instead, focus on learning the key ingredients and keep an eye out of for items that meet European and Australian standards. Next time you leave the country, stock up on some skin care items with Mexoryl SX or Mexoryl XL – I’ve a feeling we’re going to be waiting a while for this one.

Face & Body

DDF’s Moisturizing Photo-Age Protection SPF 30, which is included in their new sun kits, contains one broad spectrum physical barrier, Titanium Dioxide, as well as chemical UVA protection from Parsol 1789 (Avobenzone), and chemical UVB barriers like Octocrylene and Octinoxate. Vitamins A, C and E moisturize and relieve inflammation, while Co-Q10 and lutein combat free radicals.

Rodan & Fields, the Estee Lauder subsidiary started by two female dermatologists, produces Essentials Protect Sunscreen SPF 15, an oil-free lotion that shields skin with chemical protectors, including Parsol 1789, Octinoxate, and Oxybenzone, and stimulates cell turnover and combats free radicals with vitamin C (Ascorbyl Palmitate).

Babor’s Moderate Protection SPF 20 is a face cream meant for sensitive skin. In addition to Parsol 1789 and Titanium Dioxide, it also contains sunflower seed oil, macadamia seed oil, and vitamin C. What differentiates it is the inclusion of Babor’s Skin Protection Complex, their signature anti-aging formula that treats lines and combats photo aging. This lotion also comes in a high protection formula, which is waterproof.

Golden Door’s Walkabout Sunblock Moisturizer is a thin, fast-absorbing SPF 25 lotion contains the chemical UVA barrier, Parsol 1789, and a broad-spectrum physical protector, Zinc Oxide along with aloe, green tea and vitamin E. It’s virtually scent-free and clear and lasts the usual two-hour period.

Pevonia’s Ligne Soleil Hydrating Sunscreen SPF 30 contains Titanium Dioxide and two chemical blockers. The thin and moisturizing lotion actually creates a slightly more uniform skin tone through the subtle white tint of Titanium Dioxide. It also contains green tea, aloe, French rose extract, and vitamins C and E.

Tahitian Noni TePoema Environmental Shield is a chemical sunscreen for the face and neck, with the added benefit of Noni’s signature ingredients, Noni leaf extract, seed oil and fruit juice. Other natural tropical agents include Tiare Flower, vanilla extract, and red algae.

Kids

The expansion of skincare products has provided more than new chemicals – we also have new forms of sunscreen from Colorscience’s powder, to pads and wipes. We’ve all seen kids squirm and squint, waiting for the application of sunscreen to pass. These new products eliminate the fuss of creams and lotions via disposable wipes, and add fun elements to the packaging.

Dr. Neal Schultz, a NYC-based dermatologist, sells an entire skin care line out of his Upper East Side office. Chemical agents in the Solar Protection Pads SPF 30 protect against UVB rays and most UVA rays; the pads can be used all over the body and are excellent for trips.

But, one of the best sunscreen lines on the market is actually an affordable line of lotions that meets Australian sun care standards, Blue Lizard Australian Suncream. This is a great product for kids because the bottles feature a fun, interactive element; each bottle is clear plastic with a blue or pink cap. Like the Technicolor tee shirts, the bottle changes color when exposed to UV light – so when the bottle turns blue or pink, you know it’s time to apply block.

The regular face and body creams from Blue Lizard contain the usual chemical UVB/UVA blockers, but they also contain 6% micronized Z-Cote, which goes on white, but leaves no residue or color behind. However, the sensitive and baby formulas really set the bar for the competition. These two products contain no chemical sun protectors or fragrances, since some people have allergic reactions to chemical blockers. Both contain 5% Titanium Dioxide and 10% Zinc Oxide. Not only is this line cheap, it shields 99% of UVA light. Finally, all Blue Lizard sun creams are very water resistant – their tests show SPF 30 is maintained after four hours in a spa or whirlpool. This does not hold true in salt water or any kind of moving water.

Dr. Hauschka’s new Sunscreen Spray for Children and Sensitive Skin is another waterproof physical protector comprised of Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. A certified organic product, it contains organic plant oils and extracts like Rose Hip, Avocado Oil, Shea Butter, and Quince seed extract.

Extras

In the event you forget to reapply or pass out with bare skin, a variety of soothing, natural agents expands your options beyond the usual, sticky-variety aloe gel. Dr. Hauschka’s After-Sun Lotion is a thin, quick-absorbing moisturizer comprised of quince seed, sweet almond oil, carrot extract, jojoba oil and anthyllis extract, all of which moisturize and sooth, to cool skin and prevent peeling.

Pevonia’s Phyto-Aromatic Mist is a light water-based spray infused with aloe, chamomile, calendula, rose extract and hyaluronic acid. A multi-purpose spray, it can be used to cool skin after sun exposure, to seal make up, or to refresh skin any time of day.

If you’re scouting new self-tanners, check out Au Courant’s new Platinum line. The Sunless Tanning Spray is a great idea and the brown tint makes it nearly fool proof, but it’s not the best option if you have a brand new, stark white bathroom – as we all know, if it’ll stain our body, it’ll stain our palms and our walls too. The tanning lotion moisturizes too, but has no tint, so it’s not the best choice for newbies. The body tanners are very mild, so it takes a few applications to get real color. If you’ve never tried self-tanner for fear you’ll end up orange or Florida-esque, the is a great product to start with. One application will make veins less noticeable and create a uniform skin tone, without adding much color.

The face gel is the best product in the line. I’ve always been apprehensive about using self-tanner on my face – I was a virgin until now. Not only do you get immediate results with the bronzer, you can mix this with your moisturizer, and use more regularly to maintain your faux-tan.

DDF Moisturizing Photo-Age Protection SPF 30 – 4 oz $24 Sephora

Rodan & Fields Protect Sunscreen with SPF 15 – 2 oz $35 Henri Bendel

Babor Moderate Protection SPF 20 – $26 Takashimaya 693 Fifth Ave at 54th St. 212.350.0100

Golden Door Walkabout Moisturizer Sunblock SPF #25 – 4 oz $29.50 http://www.goldendoor.com

Pevonia Ligne Soleil Hydrating Sunscreen SPF 30 – 5 oz $34, Ligne Soleil Phyto-Aromatic Mist 6.8 oz $28, Spa at Essex House, A Westin Hotel & Park Avenue Spa 212.484.4583 & Fitness Center Swissotel New York, The Drake 212.371.4190

Noni Environmental Shield SPF 20 – 1 oz $26 http://www.tni.com

Stallex Solar Protection Pads SPF 30 – Jar of 60 $30 Park Avenue Skin Care 1130 Park Avenue 212.369.9600 or http://www.parkavenueskincare.com

Blue Lizard Face/Body, Sensitive, or Baby – 5oz $12.50

Zitomer Pharmacy – 969 Madison Ave. 212.737.5560, C.O. Bigelow Chemist 414 Sixth Avenue 212.533.2700

Dr. Hauschka Sunscreen Spray for Children – 5.1 oz $29.95, After-Sun Lotion 3.4 oz $19.95 Whole Foods Market and Sephora

Au Courant Platinum Sunless Tanning Spray – 8 oz $35, Sunless Tanning Lotion 8 oz $35, Bronze Face Gel 1.7 oz $30, Barneys 236 West 18th Street

Originally published June 2005
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