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PCA Skin Certified Professionals
Courtney Hare, aesthetician at Maryland Dermatology Laser, Skin & Vein, answers the most common SPF questions

your SPF questions answered

A Q&A with a PCA SKIN professional

Q: What inspired you to become an aesthetician?

A: As a teenager I struggled with acne breakouts like most. When my parents finally took me to the dermatologist I was told that my acne was not that bad and was simply given a prescription wash and sent on my way. After a few weeks I didn’t see a difference in my breakouts and became frustrated, never returned to the dermatologists and caked on more make-up.

Once I graduated I decided to become an esthetician and figure things out for myself. Through my schooling and education I realized the importance of daily skincare and routine treatments. After a year of being licensed, I joined the medical field to help younger versions of myself who were struggling and frustrated with their skin. For eight years now I have been working alongside Drs. Weiss and Dr. Beasley whom are world renowned dermatologists within the medical and cosmetic industry.

Q: Tell us a little about your practice.

A: Maryland Dermatology Laser Skin & Vein (MDLSV) has over 40 different lasers and light based devices, allowing us to individualize each treatment plan specifically to the patient’s needs. Dr. Weiss and Dr. Beasley are top doctors in the dermatology field and expert injectors. Dr. Robert Weiss has been president of the American Society for Laser Medicine & Surgery (ASLMS) as well as the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS). Together they have published three textbooks on varicose and spider veins and pioneered many of the treatments still used today. MDLSV also has a clinical research department that conducts studies for multiple companies in regards to FDA approvals for medical devices and topical treatments.

Q: Why is it important for people to use a broad spectrum SPF?

A: According to the American Academy of Dermatology 1 in 5 people will develop skin cancer within their life time. Daily sunscreen application is vital to protecting the skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Broad Spectrum SPF allows you to identify the sunscreens that protect against both UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are mostly responsible for giving the skin that “burn” and damage more of the top layers of the skin. UVA rays however are actually more damaging because they penetrate deeper within the skin and cause more of the aging factors like fine lines, wrinkles, and brown spots. So be sure to check your sunscreen to confirm you have a Broad Spectrum SPF.

Q: What is the most common question you receive about daily SPF use? How do you answer it?

A: Why do I have to wear sunscreen in the winter? When you think of UVB rays think B for burn, while UVA rays you should think A for aging. The UVB ray is not as strong in the winter which is why we generally do not get burned. The UVA ray, however, is just as strong in the winter as it is in the summer; it even penetrates glass, windows, and reflects off water, sand, and snow. Daily sunscreen use is just as important in the winter and while indoors as it is when you are outdoors.

Q: About 70% of women don’t wear sunscreen on a daily basis. How do you make sure to incorporate sunscreen into your daily routine?

A: Everyone washes their face and applies some kind of moisturizer or skincare product. If you actually want that product to make any change within the skin, you need to first protect it. Think of sunscreen like your body guard, it is standing guard throughout the day so that products below can do their job effectively. Sunscreen is a quick and simple step, but is the best way to protect against sun related aging and skin cancer.

Q: Many people with acne worry that sunscreen will clog their pores and make their acne worse. What do you look for in an SPF for someone with acneic skin?

A: Ingredients and formulation are key when looking at skincare products. There are two types of sunscreen, physical and chemical. Physical sunscreens contain titanium dioxide and/or zinc which act like shields on the skin and reflect off UV rays. In the past, physical sunscreens used to leave the skin pale white and chalky looking upon application, but formulations have changed and many go on sheer. Chemical sunscreens contain ingredients like avabenzone, octocrylene and octinoxide. They work well at protecting the skin by absorbing UV rays and turning it into heat. For acneic and sensitive skin types it is best to use physical sunscreen to eliminate the additional heat or inflammation to the skin.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who prefers to wear sunscreen and makeup at the same time?

A: Keep it separate! Most people do not cake on their makeup so it is hard to say if they have enough on to actually give the level of SPF claimed on the bottle. Additionally, some of us do not wear makeup every day and the chemical ingredients added for sunscreen protection could be clogging pores. The extra 30 seconds it takes to apply a quick SPF is worth the peace of mind knowing you are fully protected and ready for the day.

Q: Do people of all skin tones need to wear SPF? Why?

A: A: Yes, all skin is affected by UV rays. Darker skin types produce more melanin which is the pigment of the skin so while they do have more of a natural “built-in” UV protection they still can develop sun related damage. It just isn’t always visible on the surface. Once darker skin types start to show sun related spots, it is more challenging to treat. It’s best to be preventative and wear sunscreen daily.

Q: What do you look for in a daily SPF?

A: A straight Broad Spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. There is a big difference in UV coverage between SPF 15 and SPF 30. Increasing to SPF 45 does give a little more UV protection but once you get over SPF 45 you usually get more chemicals added with very little added protection.

Q: What is your favorite daily sunscreen?

A: PCA SKIN Weightless Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 45. Weightless contains octinoxate for UVA protection and physical zinc oxide for UVB protection, without leaving behind a heavy white residue. The formulation glides on flawlessly and leaves the skin looking subtle and radiant. Ideal for all skin types even those with oily or acne prone skin.