Most of us grew up hearing the skin protection basics — wear sunscreen, reapply when you get in the water and after a certain period of time. But with all the new skin care products on the market, we wondered if all that information had changed, or what the latest research says about caring for your skin.
With that in mind, we turned to Dr. Howard Murad of the Murad skincare company. Dr. Murad is a Board-Certified Dermatologist, a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology (FAAD), pharmacist, and holder of 18 dermatoligy-related patents. Vogue magazine also called him, “One of the country’s best dermatologists,” so we think he’ll know a thing or 10 about the subject.
FTK: So, Dr. Murad, are those skincare lessons our mom’s taught us still valid?
DR. HOWARD MURAD: Those lessons remain true. I recommend applying a generous amount of sunscreen in the morning and reapplying every few hours.
People often think that if you work indoors or have minimal direct sun exposure, you don’t need to wear sunscreen.
That is a myth. The best sunscreens not only protect you from UVA and UVB exposure but also from environmental pollutants and free radical damage which are found indoors and outdoors. Additionally, light reflects off surfaces, comes through building and car windows and penetrates through clothing.
What kind of products should we buy?
Always look for a broad based sunscreen that contains UVA and UVB protection. For each sunscreen application, apply one ounce of sunscreen (equal to a shot glass) to the entire body and face daily, and continuously reapply when out in the sun for long periods of time. If you plan on swimming or being in water, apply water resistant sunscreen every 40 to 80 minutes for optimal protection.
It’s sometimes tough applying sunscreen throughout the day. What do you recommend?
Carry something with you [that offers] easy application. Our new Essential-C Sun Balm Broad Spectrum SPF 35 | PA+++ is a convenient little sun stick that provides powerful SPF protection in a portable package, allowing for quick and easy application. It’s particularly great for areas prone to sun exposure such as the nose, forehead, shoulders, chest and hands.
This formula contains essential antioxidants to defend and protect skin health against free radicals and dehydration, while the broad spectrum sunscreen with a PA +++ rating delivers maximum protection against UVA (aging rays) and UVB (burning rays).
What is the PA rating?
The PA rating refers to the amount of protection the sunscreen offers from the UVA rays. SPF just ranks protection from UVB rays. PA ratings are listed as PA+, PA++ or PA+++. The more plus symbols, the more protection from UVA rays, which are the rays that may cause long term skin damage and therefore age the skin.
Sunscreens should always include hydrators, anti-inflammatory agents and antioxidants, as these products will also help repair the skin’s barrier to make it better able to defend itself from the sun and other environmental aggressors, like bacteria and pollution. To optimize skin hydration, look for sunscreens that contain Hyaluronic Acid and glycolipids to attract moisture to the skin barrier. Licorice Extract is an important anti-inflammatory agent to look for in sunscreens. Pomegranate Extract is both an anti-inflammatory and one of the most effective antioxidants when it comes to sun protection, as this ingredient helps protect skin from free radical damage
Skincare products these days are loaded with SPF. Is there a point where a product has “too much” SPF or chemicals in it?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and measures a sunscreen’s ability to protect from UVB rays. The SPF number indicates how long a person can stay in the sun without burning. The number a person should use is dependent on their individual skin type and the amount of time they plan on spending in the sun.
In addition to topical sunscreen, I recommend taking an Inclusive Health approach to sun protection, addressing the topical, nutritional and emotional needs for optimal skin health. The three broad aspects of Inclusive Health are Looking Better (paying attention to the health of your skin), Living Better (paying attention to what you put in your body) and Feeling Better (paying attention to your sense-of-self), which all lead to the overall goal of being BETTER EVERY DAY.
Can you elaborate on these?
Antioxidants, Anti-Inflammatories and SPF!
Along with wearing a UVA/UVB sunscreen every day, I recommend looking for products that combine a nourishing balance of the hydrating ingredients, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories necessary for a creating an environment for healthy skin. Antioxidants eliminate damaging free radicals responsible for most of what we perceive as skin aging, including fine lines, pigment changes and textural irregularity. My preferred ingredients are Vitamin C and Pomegranate extract. Anti-inflammatories neutralize redness and prevent inflammatory cell damage. I like Arnica, Zinc, Aloe Vera and Goldenseal. Finally, hydrators strengthen the skin’s barrier and help build strong cell membranes. Ingredients such as ceramides, Amino acids and Essential fatty acids protect against dryness and fine lines by replenishing naturally occurring skin lipids, improving moisture retention and protecting skin from the environment.
What Murad product would you suggest for this?
The Essential-C Sun Balm Broad Spectrum SPF 35 | PA+++.
You Are What You Put Into Your Body
Food fuels your body and mind, and eating the right foods can strengthen your skin’s ability to protect against environmental damage. Internally, increase your intake of brightly colored, water-rich fruits and vegetables because they’re full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories to help your skin heal and protect against future damage from the sun/environment. For example, taking a pure pomegranate extract supplement has been scientifically proven to intensify the skin’s natural sun protection, such as Murad Pomphenol Sunguard Dietary Supplement. Also, select raw fruits and vegetables can help protect skin from harmful free radicals which result in pigment changes and aging skin. These foods include goji berries, tomatoes, watermelon, broccoli, cabbage, mangoes, strawberries, and green tea.
Stop Stressing Out!
Cultural Stress is the constant and pervasive stress of everyday life that has become a normal part of our society in this day and age. When you are stressed your body is weaker and has a lower ability to defend against environmental aggressors. Stress takes a toll on your skin and your body. Take a deep breath and remember that the most important person in the world is YOU!