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Protecting Yourself Against UVB Rays

March 2nd, 2010 4 Comments

There are TONS of facial sunblocks on the market, so how do you know which one is really going to offer your skin the best protection.

Dr. Farah Shah has the answer: protection against UVA AND UVB rays.

According to Dr. Shah, a dermatologist at Methodist Hospital in Houston, Neutrogena is only brand that has Helioplex – a combination of avobenzone and oxybenzone that stabilizes the ingredients in sunscreen and protects your skin from UVB rays.  Research is showing that UVB rays are probably more harmful than UVB.

The only other physical barrier is zinc oxide, which is not a good look for anyone, not even the hot lifeguard.  Because I was unaware of Helioplex, I have used SkinCeuticals Daily Sun Defense SPF 20 ($37) that has a transparent zinc oxide.

Both products do the trick, but clearly have different price points.

Two more tips that Dr. Shah recommends:

  1. Any SPF over 20 is plenty of protection.  No need to hunt down SPF 100.
  2. When you put on your sunscreen in the morning (either under or over your moisturizer), also apply it on the back of your hands.  Both men and women are concerned with sun spots on their hands and often have them lasered off.  However, they will come back.  Prevent your hands from aging with sunscreen.  You might not realize how much UVB is effecting your hands, but those rays shoot right through the windshield while your hands are on the wheel, causing them to age faster.
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  • Jennifer

    Hi Mary,

    Some good info, thanks Mary! La Roche Posay also makes excellent sunscreens for the face and body. They contain Mexoryl, which is an effective blocker- I really like that one for the face. The debate between physical (like Zinc Oxide) and chemical (like Avobenzone, etc) is a heated one. But another factor to look into is PPD (Persistent Pigment Darkening). Most EU sunscreens will list PPD, but they don’t in the US. PPD is like measuring SPF for UVA Rays, and it should also be considered when buying sunscreen. SPF only measures UVB rays. Anyhow, there is a TON of info out there, but just wanted to contribute some other things to think about. (note: I am a NYS Licensed esthetician, not afilliated with any brands)

    • Thanks for the info Jennifer. The market is so saturated with hype, it’s often hard to determine which really is the best. At the end of the day, I think it’s a trial and error for each person.

  • Jennifer

    I totally agree. Each brand is of course, going to say that theirs is the best. It comes down to us doing our research and finding what works. Overall though, I think that brands like Neutrogena, La Roche Posay, and other drugstore brands have great products that don’t break the bank. I also love a face lotion by Garnier (from their anti-sun damage line) that has an SPF of 28, as well as a high PPD. Thanks Mary, keep up the great posts :)

  • Janna

    Hi Mary,

    I’m pretty into using more “natural” products, would using sunscreens with zinc oxide be the more natural approach, rather than helioplex? Is zinc oxide just as effective as helioplex?