You see the term everywhere, but what does it mean? And why do people have it?
Dermatologists haven’t come to a consensus as to how to define it, but it means that the external environment causes the skin of sufferers to feel extra sensitive. So if your skin frequently gets irritated from over-the-counter skincare products or even fabrics like wool, or if you just have itchy, burning skin frequently or intermittently, then you probably have sensitive skin
There are two different pathways which can lead to sensitive skin:
Hi and welcome to Chloe’s corner! This space is reserved for more personal talks on skincare, beauty, and advice I wish I knew before I started skincare.
For this first edition I wanted to reflect with you on my own skincare journey and give you a small challenge. I started to have acne at the beginning of university, and at the time I blamed it all on alcohol and a poorer diet (almost I’m sure it didn’t help). With each passing month my acne got worse until I couldn’t leave the house without foundation all over my face. When doing research I only read the first articles that would pop up on Google - articles my Cosmo, Allure, and Vogue. They’re well respected magazines, so surely they must know what they’re talking about.
My preliminary research made me do 3 things:
Melanin in brown and black skin is estimated to be at least twice as effective in absorbing UV rays compared to white skin. Some studies suggest that the difference can actually be closer to 5-fold.
As the result, UV exposure is seen as a less potent factor in increasing risk of skin cancers in people with dark skin compared to people with fair complexions.
Indeed, skin cancers are significantly less prevalent in people of color than in the white population. However, when skin cancer occurs in non-whites, it is often diagnosed as at a later stage making the treatment more difficult. This means that while the risk of skin cancer is lower for those of us with dark skin, it doesn't mean that this risk shouldn't be taken seriously.
In the US, since 2011, sunscreens need to pass a specific test to be allowed to carry a "Broad Spectrum" sun protection label. Sounds good - but can you trust this test?
The test is performed by the manufacturer and needs to be documented (in case you were wondering, FDA does not go out and test sunscreens for labelling purposes). The "Broad Spectrum" label test is a laboratory exercise, meaning that it is not performed with real humans in real life conditions. A certain amount of a product is applied to a standard plate with texture resembling skin, is exposed to an artificial source of the UVA radiation. The amount of radiation that passes through the plate with the sunscreen on is measured. Then, a point (a wavelength) at which 90% of the product's combined UVB and UVA absorption happens is determined, and it's called a "critical wavelength". If this point is at 370 nm or lower, the sunscreen passes the test and can carry the "Broad Spectrum" label.
What the test checks in practice is whether the sunscreen offer some protection in the UVA range. It doesn't help to determine how much UVA protection is actually offered. Two sunscreens can have an identical "critical wavelength", and have an identical "Broad Spectrum" labeling, but one of them would let through about 15% of the radiation in the UVA long range, while the other one will expose the skin to double that amount (30%).
Sunscreen Series #001 - UVBs
Welcome to the beginning of our series! Let’s start with the basics - UVA rays 🧐 They have the longest wavelength and account for 95% of UV rays that reach the earth 🌎
Research shows that the sun is responsible for about 80% of facial aging (you can slow it down!) & UVA rays are the main UV rays responsible for premature aging and wrinkles 🔬☀️
I have been on tretinoin 0.05% consistently for about 6 weeks. My skin was mostly clear, and I decided to try this for anti-aging purposes. Since then, I have had significant purging, on the upper left of my forehead, T-zone, and around my mouth (also very dry in mouth region). A few spots on my cheeks/mouth more recently, I think due to masking.
Lightweight sunscreen that offers strong broad spectrum protection while seamlessly sinking into the skin and being totally invisible is a dream of any daily sunscreen wearer. More and more brands release "ultra light" formulas, and every skincare influencer seems to be on a quest to find the lightest one.
There might be a problem with this approach. To offer a proper protection, a sunscreen needs to form a uniform film on the surface of the skin. The reason it is so important is that our skin is not even, its surface is made up of hills and valleys. A thin layer applied over these hilly surface may result in uneven coverage where “valleys” are filled/covered, but “peaks” are not (think about painting a wall with uneven surface with only a little bit of paint on your brush). The lighter the texture, the easier (and more tempting) it is to apply a thin layer. Remember though that in the SPF testing, 2 mg of sunscreen is applied for every square centimeter of the skin. To get a feel for how much it is in relation to an average face, squeeze out an amount of product that is slightly larger than a US quarter coin. That's a lot of sunscreen to spread over a face. You might even need to layer it twice if the product consistency is truly thin. If you are applying less than that, you are certainly not getting the protection advertised on the product label. It is entirely possible that if a product advertised with SPF 50 would be applied in an amount less than 2 mg per square cm, it wouldn't be able to pass the minimum SPF rating of 15 because of the failure to cover the "skin hills".
If you don't feel any sunscreen residue on the skin after applying it, chances are you didn't apply enough and the film isn't formed. As the result, most of the skin surface is not protected. This can be especially dangerous because you think that since you've applied a sunscreen, it is safe to spend time in the sun.
Yes, mineral sunscreens are a better choice for you if:
Your skin is extremely sensitive.
Your skin is somewhat sensitive and you shop for a sunscreen in the US (Avobenzone, the best broad spectrum organic filter fully approved by the FDA, can be an irritant).
You tend to get your sunscreen into your eyes (organic filters can sting the eyes).
You are choosing a sunscreen for a baby or young child (it's best to treat children's skin as extremely sensitive by default).