Here Comes the Sun

Here Comes the Sun


With the advent of summer, it’s time to brush up on your sunscreen knowledge. Because clients are more concerned than ever about their health, your staff should be prepared with in-depth knowledge of and advice on the use of sun protection and information on the latest innovations in suncare products, of which there are many.

Sunlight is divided into two types of harmful rays, ultraviolet A and B. UVB rays are the main cause of sunburns and were the focus of early sun protection products. However, we now know that UVA rays can pass through glass and penetrate deeper into the dermis, causing immune system suppression and premature aging. While sunlight does provide us with vitamin D3, not to mention happiness benefits, a tan is the sign of the skin’s own natural defense system fighting against the rays of the sun, and, as such, is never as healthy as it may look or feel.

There is evidence of the use of sunscreen as far back as 400 BC by Greeks training for the Olympic Games who covered themselves with sand and oil. Modern sunscreen, however, is considered to have been created in the mid-1930s by chemist Eugene Schueller, who went on to found L’Oréal. In the U.S., Miami pharmacist Benjamin Greene developed a product in the mid 1940s, which became known as Coppertone. Until that time, tanned skin was considered a by-product of the working-class lifestyle, but the availability of a product that protects against the sun’s burning rays made sunbathing popular. However, this early product did not protect against the sun’s UVA rays. It was not until 1980 that Coppertone developed the first UVA/UVB sunscreen. It is important to note that the current FDA guidelines on sunscreen were published in 1999, and the SPF numbers currently in use only pertain to UVB protection. This year, we are supposed to see the final sunscreen monograph, which will mandate detailed UVA as well as UVB coverage and will cap SPF numbers on labels at 50. The Skin Cancer Foundation is also implementing new standards for its Seal of Recommendation program, which will include UVA protection information and categorize sunscreens based on their intended use. “Daily Use” products would be moisturizers and cosmetics worn during incidental sun exposure, and “Active Use” describes those products designated for use during outdoor sports and recreational activities.

Everyone is a potential client for sunscreen—even those with darker skin can still suffer the aging effects of the sun’s rays. More than 2 million skin cancers are diagnosed annually. More than 100,000 of those will be new cases of melanoma, and almost 9,000 people succumb to the disease each year. Melanoma causes almost 75 percent of all skin cancer deaths, and according to the American Academy of Dermatology, it is the leading form of cancer in young adults ages 25 to 29. Despite these dangerous statistics, surveys have shown that just one in five American households uses sun protection to guard against cancer, so spas have plenty of opportunity.

Sun protection products are also divided into two camps: physical blocks, which work by reflecting the sun’s rays, and chemical absorbers, which work by absorbing the sun. Physical blockers provide the best protection, but are often visible on the skin (think of lifeguards with zinc oxide noses) and so are less popular with consumers. Chemical blocks are effective at absorbing the sun’s rays, but studies have shown that some of the chemicals used can also be absorbed into the bloodstream, particularly oxybenzone.

Scientists have been working on developing more natural sunscreen agents that have low environmental impact. At the 2010 meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), scientist Joseph Laszlo, Ph.D., presented an innovative technology that converts soybean oil into a bio-based active ingredient for sunscreen products, called feruloyl soy glycerides (FSG).

Another bio-based development involves bacteria. Human skin is covered with bacteria, and research is taking place to identify molecules in bacteria that can block UV radiation. A gene cluster in a particular type of blue-green algae has been identified that offers this protection. Separately, scientific studies have shown that sunscreens containing antioxidants have the capacity to improve the appearance of skin that has been damaged from sun overexposure, so many formulators are working to integrate antioxidants into their products, especially vitamins C and E.

As for after-sun care, one interesting fact is that most animals, all plants, and even insects use an enzyme called phytolase to automatically repair sun-damaged DNA. Humans, unfortunately, lack this enzyme, but researchers at Ohio State University have recently been able to recreate the process, and their discovery may contribute to the development of future products that can heal sun-damaged skin. A New Zealand agricultural research company discovered during testing on byproducts from Sauvignon Blanc wine production that grapeseed extracts were very effective at combating UV skin damage when applied to the skin. These developments bode well for the consumer, especially those interested in more natural approaches to sun protection. All of this research into interesting new ingredients and technologies brings a wide array of new products and approaches to the marketplace.

Looking for the latest information on new ingredients and product launches for ideas on what to offer consumers at your spa? Here’s a look at some of the hottest new options.

Bioelements SPF 50 FaceScreen: This emollient formula is designed to be worn as a moisturizer. With maximum UVA/UVB protection, this sunscreen safeguards against wrinkles, loss of elasticity, and pigmented brown spots. (800) 433-6650;

COOLA MineralSport SPF 30+: This 99 percent natural sunblock provides broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection. A blend of natural waxes affords maximum water resistance and functionality while natural phyto-protectors enhance SPF protection. (760) 940-2125;

Dr. Jeff SPF 30 Phyto SunScreen: Providing ultra protection with a matte finish, this sunscreen is formulated with active ingredients of benzophenone-3, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, ethylhexyl salicylate, and micronized zinc oxide; is fortified with vitamins C and E; and is enriched with soothing botanicals. (888) 316-3683;

Éminence Organic Skin Care Tropical Vanilla Body SPF 32: Herbal ingredients and zinc work together in this organic sunscreen to block harmful UVA and UVB rays, while hydrating shea butter and fragrant vanilla indulge the senses. (888) 747-6342;

HydroPeptide SPF 30 Anti-Wrinkle Skin Enhancing UV Protection: This sunscreen battles premature aging with açai berry and contains medicinal galanga, which enhances the sunscreen’s SPF and helps fight acne. It also self-adjusts to the color of each client’s skintone. (800) 932-9873;

GlyMed Plus Age Management Skin Care System Photo-Age Environmental Protection Gels: Available in SPF 15 and 30, the gels are water-based formulas that contain micronized liposomes that deliver antioxidants to protect against future sun damage. (801) 798-0390;

Jurlique Sun Lotion SPF 30+: This lightweight lotion can be used over any moisturizer and is compatible for any skin type. It provides UVA and UVB sunscreen protection and contains bitter orange and cypress extracts, lactic acid, lavender, vitamin E, and wheat protein. (800) 854-1110;

Kerstin Florian Correcting Oil-Free Daily Defense SPF 50: This oil-free moisturizing lotion delivers lightweight, water-resistant defense against sun damage. Broad spectrum, non-whitening sunscreen is combined with pure vitamin C and co-enzyme Q10 to provide powerful daily facial protection in a sheer, matte finish. (888) KERSTIN;

Laboratoire Dr Renaud Moisturizing Anti-Ageing Suncare SPF 20: Ingredients include the proprietary Cell’Defense Complex, a photoreactive ingredient
that adapts to the intensity of the sun. 
(800) 361-3695;

MyChelle Dermaceuticals Sun Shield SPF 28: Harmful UVA and UVB rays are blocked with titanium dioxide and ZinClear, which are safe, gentle, all-natural alternatives to harsh chemical sunscreens.  (800) 447-2076;

NEOVA DNA Damage Control Everyday SPF 40+: This sunscreen uses DNA enzymes to inhibit, guard, and reverse past, present, and future damage while providing protection from UVA/UVB rays. (888) 966-1010;

Organic Male OM4 Serums: This collection of serums provides the skin with a natural SPF 8 by using Stay C-50, a water-soluble salt form of sodium ascorbyl phosphate, which is easily converted to vitamin C by skin enzymes. Stay C-50 helps protect against skin conditions such as photo-aging, fine lines, and wrinkles. (877) 898-MALE;

Osmosis Catalyst Peptide Serum: With only 2 percent zinc and no other suncreen, Catalyst achieves an SPF rating of 14 by protecting the skin at the cellular level. It rejuvenates skin by stimulating collagen production and improving the strength and elasticity of the collagen structure and can be used alone or in combination with other sunblocks. (877) 777-2305;

Phytomer Sun Solution Sunscreen: Cytoprotectine, a marine sugar extracted from seaweed, is one of the main ingredients of this sunscreen. It is combined with trace elements that protect from free radical formation to protect skin from UVA and UVB rays and support DNA health. (800) 227-8051;

Pratima Neem Rose Face Sunscreen: This all-natural facial sunscreen combines organic botanicals with non-nano micronized zinc oxide to help protect skin from UVA, UVB, and UVC rays. The formula is safe for even the most sensitive of skin. (877) 765-0378;

RAW EnviroProtect: Ideal for the active man, this formula blends zinc oxide with skin-fortifying antioxidants to guard against free-radical damage, nourish the skin, and prevent premature aging. (866) 313-7546;

Revercel Triple Duty Sunblock: This peptide-powered anti-aging sunscreen features a sheer tint and SPF 45 and contains anti-aging botanicals and peptides, which help repair DNA damage and stimulate collagen production. (866) TO-RENEW;

Sanítas Skincare Solar Block: This light oil-free sunblock provides protection from UVA, UVB, and UVC rays with ingredients such as melanin, vitamin C, and zinc oxide. Plankton enzymes enhance the skin’s post-sun repair capabilities. (888) 855-8425;

SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50: Providing broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection with natural physical filters, titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide, this paraben-free mattifying fluid is infused with translucent color spheres to enhance skintone. The protection is boosted with a plankton extract that helps build skin’s natural defense and resistance to UV and heat stress. (800) 771-9489;