I've spent hours and hours of my skin care career researching and trialing facial sunscreens. I had settled on carrying the original Blue Lizard facial formula with Octinoxate, 5.5% and Zinc Oxide, 8%. It has an SPF profile very similar to the beloved (in its day) Obaji sunscreen but at a more accessible price point. Plus it had vitamin E, green tea and caffeine. They even sold it in 5oz bottles which I recommended for the body over their body formulations. I eventually added their "reef safe" all mineral facial formula, which had a more matte finish, for the purists and most sensitive. Then came the pandemic when Amazon became an authorized seller. Eventually a new "sheer" formula was added that I haven't even tried.
Rather than trying to appeal to all the characteristics clients are looking for in a facial sunscreen formula, I'm stepping out of carrying it all. It's like trying to keep up with stand-up comedians on Netflix but without the laughs. I know Diane at Fine Feather in Grandview Heights OH carries Suntegrity, another brand I favor, as well as others that are "clean."
It's a complicated subject that is only becoming more so. Dermatologists like to say the best sunscreen is the one you'll use. I'm guessing that is an oversimplification but simplification is a direction in which I am headed nonetheless. Cheers.
Retin-A and Renova are both brand names for products with the active ingredient of tretinoin or retinoic acid or vitamin A acid. Generally speaking, Retin-A in its various strengths and forms are used for treating acne and Renova is used to treat fine wrinkles, spotty skin discoloration and rough feeling skin. Because the active is the same though, doctors prescribe them interchangeably sometimes. Renova is often the choice for dryer skin.
Many clients, with a suggestion from a physician, have tried prescription strength retinoids like Retin-A and Renova to mitigate the visible effects of aging only to find themselves not using them. Here are, what I believe to be, the reasons for this:
1. They experience irritation, called retinoid dermatitis; redness, swelling, breakouts, flaking etc. so they stop before improvement of condition/s can be seen.
2. They aren’t getting support on how to use this complex skin care product properly (or they have forgotten) to minimize the irritation and maximize results. No one is looking at their whole skin care routine.
3. They don’t realize that this has to be ongoing. To get the results, the product has to be used. Stop using the product and the effects are lost.
4. They are advised to use daily sunscreen or avoid sun and they know they will not.
5. They realize they can no longer safely do waxing for facial hair removal.
6. Buying and using such a product does not match their values.
I was surprised to read clinical trial data on Renova recently. 24% of patients saw moderate improvement in Fine Wrinkling (36% saw no improvement), 38% saw moderate improvement in Mottled Hyperpigmentation (35% saw no improvement) and 16% saw moderate improvement in Tactile Skin Roughness (49% saw no improvement). Most improvement in the categories was noted during the first 24 weeks of therapy and maintained thereafter with continued use. Details can be found here. Pretty lack-luster results for an expensive high-maintenance product with un-established safety when used for more than 48 weeks.
If, after consideration, you decide to proceed with one of these products, I suggest a 24 week trial to look for signs of improvement. During the trial, follow these best practices:
"Mineral physical blockers zinc oxide and titanium dioxide have a long history of being friendly to the body and are especially nice for sensitive and allergic types."
With my clients, these are the points I usually make regarding sunscreen:
Daily sunscreen use is essential when trying to minimize hyper-pigmentation especially after more aggressive treatments using acids, including my vitamin c facial.
Apply your sunscreen after allowing your moisturizer to sink in. Ten minutes or more. Make-up can be layered immediately over it.
Mineral physical blockers zinc oxide and titanium dioxide have a long history of being friendly to the body and are especially nice for sensitive and allergic types. They are also still the most effective sunscreen ingredients to date against the full UV spectrum. You will see a white cast, especially for the first 10 minutes, but this will fade with a good formulation.
Still searching for a perfect sunscreen with only physical blockers with a matte, non-sticky, non-white finish? Me too. Meanwhile trust that the sticky occlusive nature of zinc oxide is partly why it is so effective. On days when you are wearing zinc you will need to make sure the cleanser you are using is removing it thoroughly.
An SPF 30 does not supply twice the protection of an SPF 15. SPF 30 blocks approximately 97% of UVB rays (when used as instructed) and SPF 15 blocks approximately 94%. Remember the numbers come from the length of time you can be exposed and not burn. SPF 30 allows you to be out 30 times as long as you could be unprotected. In the US our SPF numbers are based on UVB only. Though since 2011 if the product is labeled “broad spectrum” it has been tested and protects against UVB and UVA. A certain percentage of the protection must be from UVA to qualify for this distinction.
Amy Linville is an artist and esthetician that believes simple, sustainable and non-rushed daily skincare and beauty rituals are the foundation for finding comfort in your skin and looks, no matter your age.