Often, clients ask whether it best to apply a moisturizer first and follow with sunscreen or use a two-in-one product combining moisturizer with sun protection. The short answer is that it depends on the product’s formulation and quality. The first consideration is the choice of sunscreen because some are not safe to be used daily.
Chemical sunscreens such as avobenzone, benzophenone, benzophenone-3, oxybenzone, cylcopentasiloxane , cyclomethicone,homosalate, aminobenzoic acid (PABA), trolamine salicylate, cinoxate,dioxybenzone, ensulizole, homosalate, meradimate, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, padimate, and sulisobenzone are not recommended, especially for daily use, because of varying degrees of toxicity, hormone disruption,carcinogenicity,and other health concerns. They are absorbed into the skin and into other organs and give a false sense of security to the consumer that has been conditioned to solely rely on the SPF number. In reality, chemical sunscreens absorb ultraviolet rays into the skin instead of reflecting them away as physical sunscreens do and this means they let some ultraviolet rays into skin cells. Those cells get damaged and may mutate into cancerous cells aging the skin prematurely. Furthermore, chemical sunscreens have an unpleasant and very recognizable smell and may cause skin and eye irritation, enlarged pores, and sometimes rashes. So, why are they popular? It is easier and cheaper for manufacturers to formulate chemical sunscreens compared to physical sunscreens. This is why most products on the market – mass market and professional products alike – are made with chemical-based sunscreens.
Physical sunscreens work differently. They reflect the UVA and UVB away from the skin, preventing ultraviolet rays from reaching skin cells. They offer the most complete protection to the skin and skin cells. Physical sunscreenscontain ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, but be aware that there are significant differences of quality available to manufacturers; the lower quality products do not give a nice look and feel on the skin, tend to leave an ashy appearance, and may contain heavy metals because they are minerals extracted from the earth. The higher quality products are micronized, as to not leave an ashy or whitish film on the skin and are free of toxins and heavy metals and are safe for daily use, year-round. Furthermore, they donot cause skin or eye irritation. Nanoproducts are considered unhealthy as micronized and nanoparticles are totally different and there is more public awareness about the difference; however, some suppliers still promote nanoproducts despite scientists’ concerns about their safety. Therefore, select products that use the highest quality micronized zinc and titanium dioxide for the best ultraviolet protection, prevention of premature aging, and overall look on the skin.
Moisturizers fill several functions depending on how elaborate the formulation is and how many active ingredients work in synergy to deliver results to the skin. Moisturizing ingredients hold moisture in the skin. The best moisturizers include ingredients that improve skin conditions, bring antioxidant protection, and slow skin cell aging. Some also offer protection from pollution.
It is not advisable to use a two-in-one product made with chemical-based sunscreens, nor is it advisable to use a daily moisturizer that contains petrochemical ingredients because of their negative effects on the skin and health concerns (hormone disruption and cancer).
When applying a cream, whether it is a moisturizer, sunscreen, or two-in-one product, and if the product creates sweat, this indicates the product is made with ingredients that clog pores.Oil glands may become overactive and breakouts may worsen, so it is best to avoid those.
A two-in-one moisturizer that includes high-quality zinc oxide or titanium dioxideand are solid options for sun protection. The SPF might be a 15 for daily routine, 30 if the client spends a little more time outside, and 50 water-resistant for sports,extended sun exposure, or swimming. But, there is more to a sunscreen than the SPF because the SPF only relates to the protection from UVB rays. The quality and concentration of the ingredients, as well as the talent in formulating the product, differentiate an average product from an outstanding one that will make skin look radiant and healthy for years.
In all, directing clients to use the correct sun protection for their skin type and needs will help eliminate skin damage, cancer, and hormonal disruption.