Here’s Why Sunscreen is Not Enough to Protect You This Summer

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The Gershwin brothers wrote many classic songs and one of the best-loved began with the familiar refrain: “Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.” However, many people who love being outdoors during the summertime have first-hand and often painful experience that while the living might be easy, the damage that the lucky ‘ol sun can do to one’s skin is not a pretty sight, even if the fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high!

For many years, dermatologists and cosmetics companies have strongly urged all sun-worshippers to just say no to these rays. Anyone who loves outdoor activities that are enjoyed during the spring and summer has lathered on the sunscreen, worn those floppy hats and cautiously avoided direct sunlight. As it turns out, there are other factors besides the sun that might be damaging one’s skin.

It’s Not Just the Sun

“The sun is not the only culprit for skin damage, ” noted nurse practitioner and founder of Evexias Medical Centers, Terri DeNeui, DNP, ACNP, APRN-BC. “Genetics, the foods we eat and certain nutrients can also affect damage to the skin from the sun.

“The skin is the largest organ in the body,” she noted. “And we don’t treat our skin very well. These factors can accelerate the aging process in many ways.”

A New Test for Skin Types

Evexias Medical Centers has a new diagnostic tool for ascertaining how someone might react to direct sunlight – the SkinFit test. Terri explained how this test works.

“We all have a unique ‘blueprint’ in the form of our DNA,” she said. “We’ve seen DNA being used to test for various types of cancers and even how we metabolize drugs, and one of the newest DNA testing tools is SkinFit.

“This test allows us to evaluate a wide range of skin types by testing for the unique nutritional needs of a specific skin type. It also helps us to determine the deficiencies of fish oils, vitamin A or vitamin D that a person might have. Plus, SkinFit determines how free radicals affect our skin.

“SkinFit offers a great deal of information for better skin care,” she said. “The test evaluates moisture and hydration, photo-aging, skin inflammation and allergy risk.

“SkinFit also assesses ‘skin glycation‘, a process by which wrinkles are formed.

“This test is a great tool to allow people to get a tailored regimen for skin care, and it will prevent people from buying expensive products and treatments which potentially will not work.”

Some are Immune to the Sun

Some skin types do not react negatively to the sun’s rays.

“People of Mediterranean descent and those with dark skin tones have increased melanin in their skin, which protects them from the sun’s damage to their skin. Many genetic factors can predispose us for skin damage from the sun,” Terri said. “Conversely, DNA can also protect us from the sun’s effects.

“Even something as common as freckles can suggest problems. Freckling is photo-aging and someone who has fair skin or tends to get freckles has the genetic potential for skin problems associated with the sun.

What Explains the Increasing Rates of Melanoma?

“We do spend a lot of time in the sun,” Terri noted. “In recent decades, we have been increasingly using sunscreen lotions, however the rate of skin cancer has still been increasing.  Back in the 1920’s and 1930’s, when people weren’t really focused on skin cancer, there were not many sunscreen products on the market and people weren’t afraid of being in the sun. There also weren’t as many incidences of skin cancer.

“This could mean that our use of sun blocks, in addition to screening out the sun’s rays, is also blocking the best preventative factor for skin cancer – vitamin D. By blocking vitamin D, we eliminate a protective shield for our skin.

“The other aspect of this increase in the number incidences of skin cancer is due to the fact that we are looking closer for melanoma. People with propensities for freckles or fair skin are getting their skin checked more often.

“Our skin is one of our main organs and we subject it to many chemicals. This might explain the increase in skin cancer incidences. There are many unsafe sunscreens on the market and these might be exacerbating the damage done by the sun.

The Safest Sunscreens

“Many people mistakenly believe that the SPF factor of a given sunscreen is the primary criteria for choosing an effective sunblock,” Terri noted. “In fact, the FDA has not been evaluating sunscreens for decades. There is a difference between products that protects from UVB rays versus those that don’t.

“Look for natural, mineral sunscreens,” she noted. “These contain zinc or titanium, which do not break down in the sunlight and are not absorbed into the skin. They are not allergenic, they don’t disrupt one’s hormones and they are effective in blocking UVA and UVB rays. Brands I recommend are Jan Marini and Obagi.'”

If you’re concerned about your propensity for having your skin damaged by the sun, contact us and discuss the SkinFit test with Terri and her clinical team.

If you would like to listen to the complete interview with Terri DeNeui, just click on the podcast below.