by Darrell Gonzales, MD
Now that we have longer daylight hours and the weather is warming up, many of us are spending more time outdoors — and that can mean more time in the sun.
It’s a good time to review your sun protection routine and make sure you’re using the right products to protect yourself from skin cancer and the aging, skin-damaging effects of ultraviolet rays.
And if you already have sun damage or other signs of aging skin, there are several new products on the market to help rejuvenate skin and treat dark spots, fine lines and wrinkles.
The standard sunscreen recommendations haven’t changed: use a product with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 when you are having fun outside, even on cloudy days. Reapply it every two hours or more, especially if you sweat or go swimming.
What has changed? If you dislike using sunscreen because it seems to make your face and skin appear white or pasty, you may like the newer sunscreens with micronized particles containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
These new formulations minimize the white pigment residue that was common in the older formulations of sunscreens. Less white pigment means more natural color shows through. Many of these sunscreens can now be found at your dermatologist’s office, including Elta Md sunscreen.
Also, be on the lookout for new sunscreens on the market containing antioxidants such as Vitamin A, C, E and green tea to help reduce some of the sun’s damage.
A few of these sunscreens are already available and there will be even more over the next six months. Examples of sunscreens currently with these ingredients include Jan Marini, Citrix and Neutrogena.
Whether they’re the result of sun damage, aging or everyday life; lines, wrinkles, discoloration and other skin issues are often very treatable.
There are a variety of new products designed to help reverse the signs of sun damage and aging; which ones are right for you depends on your skin care goals.
Fillers are the usual treatment recommended for lines or wrinkles around the mouth, such as the nasolabial folds — often called “parentheses” or “smile lines” — that run from the bottom of the nose to the corners of the mouth.
Fillers can also be effective on lines that start at the outer corners of the mouth and extend down toward the chin, often referred to as “marionette lines” because they resemble the moving mouth parts on a string puppet.
Most fillers, such as Juvederm and Restylane, are gels made of hyaluronic acid, which is a substance that occurs naturally in our skin and helps to hydrate and add volume. The gel is injected under the skin to plump up the lines and make them less noticeable.
A new version, Juvederm XC, recently became available that contains lidocaine, an anesthesia that helps reduce discomfort associated with the injections. Treatment usually takes about 15 minutes and may cause some temporary redness, swelling or tenderness. Results are immediate and generally last six months to one year.
Another type of filler, Radiesse, uses the body’s own collagen to plump up the skin. As we age, our natural collagen breaks down, which leads to a decrease in skin volume, elasticity and strength.
Radiesse injections help replenish the volume by stimulating the production of collagen. Like Juvederm and Restylane, treatment takes about 15 minutes and may have mild, temporary side effects. Radiesse results generally last about one year.
Most people can use fillers safely; however, they should not be used if you are pregnant, taking blood thinners, or have an autoimmune disorder.
A new type of laser treatment also stimulates collagen production to reduce wrinkles and resurfaces rough, uneven or splotchy skin.
Fractional carbon dioxide laser therapy combines the wrinkle-removing power of traditional carbon dioxide lasers with a new application technique to provide highly effective results, without harsh side effects or extended recovery time.
The laser shoots tiny beams of energy into the skin, which stimulates collage production. However, unlike conventional laser therapy, the top layer of skin is not damaged, so there is no visible sign of damage and recovery is faster.
Results last eight to ten years. Potential risks may include infection and swelling and patients with darker complexions may develop hyper or hypopigmentation to treated areas. Talk to your dermatologist to decide if this treatment is right for you.
If you’re not quite ready for cosmetic procedures but would still like to do something to improve the look and feel of your skin, consider topical products. New physician-strength skin creams are available that contain human growth factor to increase collagen production, and many dermatologists carry these products in their offices.
Retinol creams can also help smooth fine lines and wrinkles; you can buy them over the counter or ask your dermatologist for a prescription-strength product. Products that contain caffeine can help reduce redness, while those with vitamins C and E help reduce antioxidant damage to prevent new photodamage.
There are a lot of options out there for revitalizing your skin. Not sure what you need? Talk to your dermatologist, who can recommend the right course for you.
This Scripps Health and Wellness information was provided by Darrell Gonzales, MD, dermatologist at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla.