Effective sunscreens are essential to skin health to reduce damage from the ultraviolet (UV) rays of sunlight which have been proven to accelerate skin aging and increase the risk of skin cancer. SPF is a measure of the amount of time the sunscreen will protect you from damaging ultraviolet light, primarily UVA and UVB rays. Even though all available products that claim to provide sun protection factors (SPF) are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Agency (FDA), they can vary significantly in stability and effectiveness.
Sunscreens are typically classified into two categories, either chemical (active) or physical (referred to as mineral or inactive). Chemical sunscreen absorbs into the skin and works by converting UV radiation to heat and then releasing it from the body. Physical or mineral sunscreen does not absorb but sits on top of the skin and works by reflecting the damaging UV rays. Although high-quality chemical sunscreens can be very effective and have a longer duration, mineral or physical products are considered a safer choice for most people because they have less interaction with the deeper skin layers. This means less chance of irritation, allergies, and sensitivity, especially in children or after cosmetic resurfacing procedures such as lasers or chemical peels.
Medical-Grade vs Over-the-Counter Sunscreen
Although the FDA does regulate the SPF ratings on all sunscreens sold in the USA, research and clinical studies have confirmed that some of the ingredients and stability of these products and other added ingredients can vary widely and carry significant concerns. Many over-the-counter products were found to have unstable protective factors that broke down when exposed to direct sunlight and heat, some releasing damaging side products such as free radicals. Also, the duration of the SPF number labeled was often less than advertised. No sunscreen is truly ‘waterproof,’ but some are marketed as ‘water resistant’ and have greater protection time. In general, and depending on sun intensity, activity (sweat) levels, or water exposure, sunscreen should be applied at least every 2-3 hours when outdoors and in direct sunlight.
Medical-grade sunscreens are different from over-the-counter products in that they require independent clinical testing to confirm their safety and effectiveness, and in general, are made with higher quality ingredients that function to provide greater and more comprehensive protection to the skin from damaging light as well as other related benefits to optimize skin health and youthfulness. Medical-grade products and sunscreens are also research formulated to give the best protection to different skin types and are ideal after aesthetic treatments or for patients with skin sensitivities or higher skin cancer risk.
Top Sunscreen Options
Several clinically proven sunscreen options are available for purchase at EVOLV.
ZO Skin Health offers a range of effective, medical-grade SPF products suitable for varying patient needs. Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 50 is formulated with non-irritating mineral sunscreen, making it a good option for post-procedure skin or sensitive skin types. Smart Tone Broad-Spectrum SPF 50 self-adjusts in tint to complement most skin tones, effectively protecting from UVA/UVB rays while also providing a hydrated and even appearance. Daily Sheer Broad Spectrum SPF 50 is water and perspiration resistant and dries quickly for a sheer and matte finish. ZO Skin Health also offers two options that work well with makeup routines. Sunscreen + Primer SPF 30 doubles as a makeup primer with a matte finish, and Sunscreen + Powder Broad-Spectrum SPF 45 offers color-enhancing pigments for buildable coverage that is easily applied over makeup.
EltaMD UV Daily Broad-Spectrum SPF 40 is a very effective option and uses mineral ingredients but is formulated using nanoparticles, allowing it to rub clear into the skin and avoid any white cast. The product also contains natural hyaluronic acid, making it an excellent hydrator. This is excellent for those with dry skin types. There are also a few new options of EltaMD that we recently rolled out to our EVOLV patients. The EltaMD UV Glow Tinted Broad Spectrum SPF 36 provides not only mineral-based protection but also hydrates the skin and provides a gorgeous glow. The EltaMD UV Stick Broad Spectrum SPF 50 lets you take sunscreen on the go. This water-resistant, all-mineral SPF 50 is easy to apply, great on all skin types and absorbs quickly.
Alastin HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36 contains iron oxide to block visible light, preventing hyperpigmentation or sunspots. It is water-resistant and provides a tint to create an even skin tone and prevent white residue.
PCA Skin Active Protection Body Broad Spectrum SPF 50 is currently the only spray sunscreen that we currently carry at EVOLV. This sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays, goes on white to show coverage, and then dries clear. Good for all skin types and last up to 80 minutes in water.
Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield SPF 50 is a dry sunscreen that is brushed onto the skin. This is a great option for reapplying SPF over makeup, as sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours.
Ingredients to Look for In Sunscreens
Several ingredients may be used to provide protection from the sun. Previously, the FDA has found that 16 active ingredients are generally recognized as safe and effective (GRASE). Updated orders from the FDA have listed two active ingredients, zinc oxide, and titanium dioxide, as GRASE. Other ingredients will require additional testing and data before their safety and effectiveness can be confirmed. If you are particularly concerned about the safety of the ingredients in your sunscreen according to the FDA, you may choose those which use the mineral barriers zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Chemical sunscreens containing other ingredients have been found to be safe by other studies but require additional testing before they can be listed as GRASE according to the FDA.
EVOLV Medical Aesthetics offers a variety of the most advanced and research-proven sunscreens that provides not only protection from solar damage but also premature aging and skin cancer for patients of all skin types and activity levels. We invite you to discuss these exciting options and advantages with an EVOLV skincare professional.