How to Get Four-Star Sun Protection
We discuss the FDA’s new sunscreen rating system and learn how to be sun-smart with local expert Celeste Hilling, host of “Skin Health Today” and founder and CEO of Skin Authority, a San Diego-based healthy skin lifestyle company.
Still using the same bottle of sunscreen you purchased last spring? According to Celeste Hilling, it’s about time you throw it out. The CEO of Skin Authority—whose products can be found at San Diego day spas like Rock Spa and Spa Terre—Hilling says the average-size person should be applying 2 ounces of sunscreen every day. Not only that, but you should also reapply every 45 minutes when you’re in the sun…which means, you really shouldn’t have a half-used bottle laying around by end of summer.
It’s hard enough just figuring out which bottle to buy in the first place, right? Let alone having to remember to apply and reapply. Sunscreen, however, is a necessity, not a luxury—so much so that the FDA is leveling out the playing field and making it easier for consumers to choose wisely. Skin Authority’s Sunscreen Moisturizer is the first to receive the highest rating (4 stars) from the FDA, based on a new system they’re using to rate products claiming any level of sun protection. The Skin Authority Sunscreen received 4 stars because it provides broad-spectrum protection against the sun—protecting against both UVB and UVA rays, with an SPF of 30. And unlike other products, it isn’t greasy or scented, making it a perfect moisturizer for men, women, and kids.
The sunscreen-moisturizer combo is genius. But you wouldn’t expect anything less from Hilling. She has held executive positions at Compaq and other technology firms, so when she decided to launch her own skin care company, she didn’t do it on a whim—she researched the world over until she had a solution she could feel good about. Today, Skin Authority offers 25 homecare products and 19 professional products. Clients can take the first step toward new skin at one of their North County centers for skin health excellence, or at day spas and resort spas approved to carry their products. What’s more, customers also get access to a certified skin care coach available via telephone or online. Clients range from spa newbies to high-profile men such as Hercules himself, actor Kevin Sorbo, and the founder of UGG Boots, Aussie Brian Smith. A woman that can get even these manliest of men to start taking care of their skin has got to be worth her salt.
Here’s her take on sun protection…
Q: There are so many sunscreens on the market. What would you suggest consumers look for?
A: I can make it really simple. The most important thing with sunscreen is to apply some level every day. Even a little is going to go a long way. But make sure your product can protect against both types of rays: It should have the ability to fight burning rays (UVB), which will be governed by the SPF factor so if your sunscreen has an SPF 15 or higher you are in good shape. UVA rays are long rays that penetrate to the very lower dermis where live skin tissue is developing; if you don’t protect against UVA rays the result is that the new cells being produced are damaged which leads to a weakened immune system. So look for broad- or multi-spectrum coverage and ingredients like avobenzone, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide—which are great UVA fighters. Then apply at least 2 ounces of sunscreen every day, which is enough for the average 4’11 to 5’8 person. After that, it’s all about reapplying. You should reapply every 45 minutes when you’re in the sun. It’s more so about reapplying than it is upping the level of chemicals in your sunscreen.
Q: There’s been buzz around the availability of Mexoryl in the U.S. Is its ability to fight UVA rays better than Avobenzone hype or honesty?
A: All the marketing claims can make it so complicated when it comes to sun protection. Mexoryl is a form of avobenzone but it is owned by Loreal (available in the sunscreen Anthelios 40 by La Roche-Posay). The controversy surrounds the breakdown rate of Mexoryl versus Avobenzone...Yes in a petri dish, after 72 hours Avobenzone does break down but you’re not keeping on that one application of sunscreen for 72 hours. And while Mexoryl does take longer to break down, you will have had to reapply sunscreen before then. Plus, not everyone wants to spend more than $30 for a 1.7 ounce bottle of sunscreen.
Q: What about cloudy days…what is the rule of thumb for protection then?
A: Did you know that Washington has the fifth highest rate of skin cancer in the country? People don’t realize that those UVA rays come through clouds. You don’t need to feel the sun to need to be protected.
Q: Should we look for anything different when it comes to sunscreen for babies?
A: Fragrance can cause a skin reaction, so look for products without fragrance. And also one that is water resistant. There’s no such thing as waterproof, and even if you do buy a water-resistant sunscreen, the key is still to reapply. We worked in conjunction with the San Diego Sports Center to design our moisturizing sunscreen for athletes, so if an athlete can wear it, anyone—including an infant—can.
Q: Any sun care tips for men?
A: As with skin care for men in general, the rule is: Make it simple, simple, simple. Our skin care line for men includes two products: one to cleanse and the other to moisturize and provide sun protection at the same time. And we don’t do fragrances and dyes. Rather than trying to educate him yourself, the best gift you can give a man is to get him a gift certificate to a 20-minute exfoliating treatment at one of our Skin Authority Centers. Then he can learn first hand from a third-party expert. Of the customer base that we follow up with, 27 percent are men—it’s a number that grows every year.
For more of Celeste Hilling’s skin care tips, check out her Seven Skin Care Secrets for Summer 2009.