So, let’s start with the basics. Unfortunately, the sun damages skin in two ways; first there is the simple sunburn that we can see and feel and the second way, that we cannot see or feel, is by causing the production of free radicals (more about those bad guys later).   

There are two types of sun rays that do the damage.  The first are the UVB rays that are responsible for sunburns to the outer layers of the skin.   This damages the DNA of skin cells,  can increase the risk for basal-cell and squamous cell carcinoma AND make your skin look old and wrinkly before it's time. 

The second type of sun rays that are harmful are the UVA rays which are responsible for introducing free radicals into deep layers of the skin.  Free radicals are unstable molecules that lead to premature aging (think collagen breakdown, loss of elasticity, wrinkles, pigmentation and potentially serious skin conditions) Yech! - we don’t want that!  UVA rays penetrate 30-40 times deeper into the skin than UVB.  In fact, UVA rays penetrate clouds and glass, therefore, sunscreen is necessary for outdoors, indoors when next to windows, and when in a car – 365 days a year.

To really protect your skin and keep it looking young, your skin needs three defenses:   Sunscreen,  anti-oxidant (free radical) protection and a great hat.... As we said before, sunscreens protect against UV exposure. Here is what you want to look for in your sunscreen:

  • Look for “broad spectrum” labeling to ensure UVA and UVB protection.

  • “Physical” sunscreen (vs. “chemical”) is the most effective formulation.This type physically reflects UV rays, is effective immediately, does not deteriorate as quickly under the sun, and is far less irritating to the skin. Look for titanium dioxide and zinc oxide on ingredient lists.

  • The American Academy of Dermatology recommends SPF30 for everyday use.

  • Reapply every two hours for maximum protection, especially when in direct sunlight for extended periods.

Next you need good anti-oxidants to minimize those pesky free radicals to keep skin firm and bright.  Anti-oxidants can be ingested through fruits, vegetables and vitamins if you have a good diet. However, as we often don’t get as many veggies or fruit in our diet as we would like to, we also suggest that you include an anti-oxidant serum in your daily skin care routine. Serums that contain vitamin C really are the gold standard and our client’s favorites are Skinceuticals C & E Ferrulic, Phloretin CF  and Cosmedix Vitamin C mixing crystals. Our estheticians here just don’t leave the house without a good quality vitamin C on their skin. It’s a must!  You can also load up your skin with resveratrol at night, another potent anti-oxidant (oral supplement or topical), to renew and power pack your skin protection. Skinceuticals makes a great resveratrol nighttime serum.

Finally, believe it or not, eyes can get sunburned as well – wear sunglasses to protect them!  

You can rest easy pool-side not that you have the expert scoop on sun protection. Enjoy the summer sun without compromising your skin.  

SenSpa is a luxury wellness dayspa in San Francisco