Category Archives: Every Morning Sun Whip

An Image from our Old Website when a softer look and feel emerged

What’s New with Us. Turns Out a Lot.

Are Hearts Are Full with the Changes Upon Us.

Are Hearts Are Full with the Changes Upon Us.

What’s New with Us. Turns Out a Lot.

We’re in for some exciting changes this fall- ones that we’ve been prepping for these past several years.

What kind of changes are we talking about?

6 new products, including 2 new sunscreens.  2 new packaging changes. 2 new brands. 1 new identity.

1 New Beginning.

There is a lot of unpacking to do in those couple of sentences and we promise to reveal things as we can.  In the interim, I thought I’d take a little time in this blog post to give some history and context about these upcoming changes. For today, let’s start with…

1 New Identity.

We’re actually in our tenth year of operations and we’ve definitely evolved over the years.  Have you ever seen those articles that show what companies like Google or Amazon looked like when they first started? I always find them fascinating because it’s easy to forget the history of a brand and the little stepping stones it took to get to where it is today.

Our First Look- A little Edgier Indeed

Our First Look- A little Edgier Indeed

In the beginning, we were all about “Less Chemicals. More Efficacy. Please”.  I thought I was pretty savvy with the added ‘please’, in italics no less. How Canadian of us.  Our thinking at the time was to move away from the cosmetics with 40-50 ingredient lists.  We knew we could deliver products that were simplified at their core but delivered efficacy so to speak because we chose great actives and used them at high concentrations.  The green beauty movement was just nascent in early 2008 but we were already starting to think about the massive amounts of chemicals that people were being exposed to every day.  Both my parents were concerned- my mother as a dermatologist and just seeing how sensitized people’s skin became.  My father as a retired high risk obstetrician and endocrinologist and examining everything through the litmus test of safety of whether a pregnant woman should be using it.

We actually started with three products, including our AM Hydrating Whip.  We didn’t market it as a sunscreen at the time but it was the earliest iteration of our current Every Morning Sun Whip SPF 25. People’s response to it was overwhelming- they loved the aesthetics of it and the way it made their skin look.  What ultimately converted people though was the story behind sunscreens.  Once they learned about the gap in safety and efficacy between many commercially available sunscreens and ours- people could not believe it was the first time they were hearing this story and they wanted to share it with everyone they knew.

An Image from our Old Website when a softer look and feel emerged

An Image from our Old Website when a softer look and feel emerged

Four years later, while working on our Simply Zinc Sun Whip SPF 30, we realized we were on to something.  We had built an expertise in making sunscreens that was unparalleled in the industry and we had the will and the way to continue.  Hence, we became CyberDERM-The Sunscreen Company TM.  By 2016, we had 5 cosmeceuticals and 2 Sun Whips that could provide the staples in skincare that any professional could recommend to their clientele.

Our Current Look and Name

Our Current Look and Name

We’d also been working behind the scenes on continuing our research in developing the absolute best sunscreens in the world.  That was our ethos and what we’ve been working at non-stop.  We’ve developed a sunscreen with the highest potential UVA protection factor from any that we’ve seen.  Unfortunately, until Health Canada and the FDA approve the widespread use of Tinosorb S and M, that formula will not be launching in North America.

We’ve also developed a patent pending innovation that we think is truly a game-changer.  Launching in all of our new sunscreen formulas going forward, we’ve developed a proprietary way of dramatically increasing the UVA protecting factor of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sunscreens.  We’re calling it Bio UVA Ultra- best of all it uses a simple, Ecocert certified organic material that is sustainably developed and controversy free.

We’re launching two new sunscreens this fall under a new brand name.  These beauties are worth their own post in its entirety so we won’t go into much more detail for now.  With all of our efforts in developing sunscreens and with the introduction of two new brands, we thought it was time to go all out and make it clear what we are about.  Going forward, we are going to be known as The Sunscreen Company TM.  As The Sunscreen Company TM we can’t wait to present to you three brands made with love and fourteen products full of protection and care.  Thanks for sticking with us through this transformation.

All the best,


Clarins Spa, Raffles Hotel, facial review

Exploring French Luxury Beauty Products

This past May, I had the chance to visit Paris in full spring bloom.  I have very fond memories from my days studying at Sciences Po but my visit this time round had a different bent.  CyberDERM, in it’s earliest days, took a lot of inspiration from the big medical based brands like La Roche-Posay, Avène, Vichy and more.  They were the brands of the 90’s that had a lot of credibility and were favoured by dermatologists.  We have different formulating philosophies now though since many of these larger French luxury beauty brands have been slower to listen to consumer requests for controversy free ingredients.  I was interested to see on this trip what did French offerings look like today.  What were French consumers wanting and how were brands delivering?  I was asking these questions with the purpose of seeing whether CyberDERM would ever fit.  Would it be possible for the cultural beauty exchange to go the other way with a Canadian import into a French market?  There does seem to be a whisper of an opportunity, one we will continue to explore.  In the meantime, here are the highlights from my trip.

french beauty brands, Hermes

French Aesthetics but chock full of No-No ingredients

The Pharmacy Culture:

All of the French brands I mentioned took root through the French Pharmacy/Parfumerie system.  I capitalize it because if you have ever visited France, you’ll know theirs is a system that has its own unique flavour.  I know North American devotees who flock to the French pharmacies whenever they visit in search for those elusive beauty brands they cannot find anywhere else.  I feel they differ from our North American versions in being more curated.  Space is always a premium in the EU I get the sense that customers feel the brands from these beauty emporiums are also effective.  They also normally have the ineffable french quality of a certain understated classicism.  I always find it a treat to shop the sunscreens since the EU has access to filters that we do not have like the Tinosorb M and S and ethylhexyl triazone (all of which might pair beautifully with zinc oxide for incredible protection).  I also picked up a sunscreen in oil format*, which I think is very interesting.  I’m up for any format of sunscreen that increases people’s compliance in actually applying it everyday. I am not a fan of aerosol sunscreens since the alcohol used as a solvent is really hard on skin (and once stripped paint off of my purse)

CyberDERM, sunscreen, french brands

The French Pharmacy System

but a nourishing oil might be of interest. Again, we might start playing around to see if zinc oxide could be used in a similar format. *These are sunscreens with actual substantial filters in them, not tanning accelerators with a token SPF.

The status of sunscreens in the Gallic nation:

Being “the sunscreen company”, I was also of course interested to see what sunscreen use was like here.  Isn’t this where sunscreen use was born? Ok, perhaps not but I’ve always considered French women especially to be early adopters of the skincare regimen that included regular sunscreen use.  Certainly, there are a multitude of options in the above mentioned pharmacies.  Zinc is not popular here though- I didn’t  see any options other than Skinceuticals (which is an American import now owned by L’Oreal).  I thought for the real scoop I should go to the best beauty experts in the ‘biz’.  I stopped by Birchbox France to have a chat with two lovely BF editors.  I was surprised to learn from them that they felt women of their generation still relegated sunscreen use to their beach bag.  Also while there was a growing concern about ingredients in personal care products, this didn’t necessarily translate into an awareness of the controversies over certain sunscreen actives. We all agreed though that aesthetics are supremely important.  No amount of fact filled education would change

Birchbox May, France

The May Box from Birchbox co-opted by Fiance for bedside table

consumer behaviour if not accompanied with a proverbial spoonful of sugar (i.e. a pleasant user experience). Could our Every Morning Sun Whip SPF 25 be just the ticket?  It was a question that we all promised to consider and I continue to be a huge fan of the Birchbox FR team and concept.  I even got a treat in getting their gorgeous May box.

And finally THE FACIAL:

Here is one slightly dirty little secret, in all my years in the industry and being a daughter of a dermatologist- I’ve never had a facial. I’ve had fotofacials.  I’ve had medi-facials and peels.  I’ve just never understood the concept of a facial.  How effective can the layering of products be in one session?  Is it meant to be relaxing and effective?  Is this something I really need?  I know facial devotees would say I am missing the point.  I may not need one but most want them.  I still think I would rather have a fotofacial from a qualified professional at least once a year.  However, I knew I couldn’t speak with authority without trying one.  I therefore went to the one of the Top Rated Spa’s (in the world), the Clarins Spa My Blend in the Raffles Hotel Le Royal Monceau.  First, I will say that no one can beat a french spa for atmosphere. I’m sorry to say that I was too shy to take pictures- that would have felt rude and intrusive so you will have to rely on my description. The hotel is a beautiful concoction of panelled wood and elegant drapery.  You descend to the basement and the spa beckons like a movie’s vision of heaven.  It’s all white and backlit with long corridors. All of which puts you in a very calm and relaxed state of mind.  I sipped fresh pressed juice and munched on a selection of nuts and fruit while waiting. I poured over Dr. Clarins musings on skincare and women’s needs.  I was greeted by a sweet and down to earth facialist, who paid me the immense quality of thinking I was twenty and not

Clarins Spa, Raffles Hotel, facial review

The beautiful Lobby of the Royal Monceau

in need of an ‘anti-aging’ component to my treatment just yet.  The facial itself was like being wrapped in warm, white cocoon.  There were no extractions (yeah!), just repeated layerings of some of Clarins Professional products.  I loved the idea that part of the facial was tailored to my needs on the spot with specialized additives through the stages of exfoliation, gommage, hydration and calming.  All in all- an exceptional experience (with macarons served at the end)- I took lots of notes and inspiration in case we open another retail/spa space in the future.



The Year of The Horse: Our Beauty Predictions for You Based on Your Chinese Horoscope

CyberDERM, beauty profile, horoscopes
Can you say Adorable? Which Animal Are You?
You might be wondering whether I have the wherewithal to be able to say anything on your Chinese Horoscope. I’m neither Chinese nor a reader of the stars.  However, under the careful tutelage of my father in-law-to-be, I’ve been studying Chinese Horoscopes and have read up on them considerably.  For those of you not in the know, the Chinese astrology assigns one of twelve animals that represents your character and personality based on your birth year.  As my father-in-law-to-be has so nicely put it- it’s thousands of years of statistics.  I think they have some real merit and you’ll often see me trying to work backwards and figure out someone’s birth year and their Chinese Horoscope.  I don’t do math very well in my head so I often get it wrong.
This is the year of the Horse.  Every year has different implications based on your personal horoscope.  2013 was the year of the Snake, a hard one for those of the Pig year- if you are 30 (like myself), 42, 18, 54, or 6 then you might understand what I’m talking about.  Fortunately, with the New Year this past February, it’s a completely new cycle.  Here is what the Year of the Horse portends for you in terms of beauty- the predictions appear every year in texts like Your Chinese Horoscope by Neil Somerville.  The beauty extrapolations are my own. 

Let me know if we got it right in the Comments section below!
Rat: Birth Year ’36, ’48, ’60, ’72, ’84, ’96, ‘08
Traits: Strategic, Charming, Sociable, Value-Minded
Beauty Profile: The rats of the world are the sign best prepared for any future apocalypse.  In terms of beauty, they are the lovers of the two-for-one special, the Costco jumbo size, free samples and are the Extreme Couponers of the bunch.  It is not to say that Rats are cheap- they just like a good value. Having said that, they would do well to throw out those old stashes of unused samples. Do not try to repurpose that used lip balm from the 90’s.  Have a friend help you spring clean or you risk appearing on that Hoarder’s show.
Horse Year Predictions: This might actually be a trying year for you.  However, if you keep your wits about you, your efforts might get noticed.  Keep your appearance polished.  This sign is not known for being on time but refrain from looking harried.  Put your game face on.
 Ox: Birth Year ’37, ’49, ’61, ’73, ’85, ’97, ‘09
Traits: Focused, persistent and tenacious but can be inflexible and too serious
Beauty Profile: Has had the same hardworking beauty staples in their arsenal for years.  These products may not be fluffy but they get the job done and you are sticking with them. 
Horse Year Predictions: The gallivanting Horse can bring about a lot of change, something that Oxen are not known for dealing with especially well.  Take baby steps- try playing with small changes in your beauty routine to inject a little bit of levity into your day to day.  An orange lipstick might help you greet other larger life changes with a smile. 
Tigers: Birth Year ’38, ’50, ’62, ’74, ’86, ’98, ‘10
Traits: Strong willed, fierce and passionate but can be restless
Beauty Profiles: Tigers are known for being attractive since they take care with their appearance.  They are also the born strutters so they tend to get a lot of attention.
Horse Year Predictions: This year will be a good one for activity and opportunity.  Look as fierce as you feel with glowing skin as the backdrop for bold colours and architectural features.  You are going to have lots of socializing and celebrating this year so get your party looks in gear.
Rabbits: Birth Year ’39, ’51, ’63, ’75, ’87, ’99, ‘11
Traits: Peaceful, gentrified tastemakers that like the finer things in life
Beauty Profiles: Rabbits also take care of their appearance.  Male Rabbits are especially obvious as the modern Metrosexual.  They like their creature comforts and enjoy the act of preening.  They have a tactile appreciation of beauty with their assortment of embellished jars and potions.  You can tell a Rabbit as the girlfriend who always has her favourite tube of Rosebud salve in her purse or work drawer.
Horse Year Predictions: This year of activity can make a Rabbit a little bit anxious.  Clutch on to your creature comforts a little bit closer.  Just remember not to be a spendthrift- go for quality and not quantity and refrain from too much retail therapy. 
Dragons: Birth Year ’40, ’52, ’64, ’76, ’88, ’00, ‘12
Traits: Perfectionists, ambitious, hardworking but can be blunt and impulsive
Beauty Profiles: The Devil-Wears-Prada of the bunch. Dragon ladies especially can take on the world while looking immaculate.  They’ll have perfectly groomed brows, flawless complexions and not a hair out of place.  Your friends and peers look to you in general as a leader and your sartorial flair helps keep their attention.  
Horse Year Predictions: The past year’s fashion trends of the 90’s grunge or punk were most likely not your cup of tea.  Your overall look is more classic and you should keep it clean and minimal this year.  Focus on a healthy lifestyle and staying grounded- this might be a frenetic year for you.  Some deep yoga breaths might keep you from breathing fire over every one in frustration. 
Snakes: Birth Year ’41, ’53, ’65, ’77, ’89, ’01, ‘13
Traits: Mysterious, calm, contemplative and intelligent but can be secretive bordering on cunning
Beauty Profiles: Snakes are generally quite appealing to the opposite sex.  Snake ladies have a quiet grace to them that can be quite alluring.  They also have excellent taste and enjoy life’s little luxuries.  Famous snake ladies include Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Jacqueline Onassis.  Your beauty routine is more like a starlet’s boudoir.  You’re not posting on Facebook about your latest beauty acquisition, instead you have your little beauty secrets that you are not sharing but that everyone takes notice of. 
Horse Year Predictions: This could be a very taxing year for the quiet and slower paced Snake.  The Snake will have to try and keep up with the world and that can lead to a lot of stress and anxiety for these normally calm individuals.  Do your best to take holidays or me-time to recoup your energy.  Invest in relaxing rather than aggressive spa treatments this year so that your any inner turmoil does not register in your complexion. 
Horses: Birth Year ’42, ’54, ’66, ’78, ’90, ’02, ‘14
Traits: Lively, sociable, communicative but not the best keeper of secrets
Beauty Profiles: Horses like novelty.  They are also world travellers.  Their personal style will reflect this sense of adventure and be bold, bright and beautiful.  Horses make for great beauty bloggers- they know about the latest and greatest secrets from the Amazon and don’t feel the need to keep quiet about it.  They love to gab and interact with others.  They collect treasures from around the globe and their beauty bag will be filled with exotic bric and brac.
Horse Year Predictions:  Although it’s the year of the Horse, it does not mean that everything will go well with 100% certainty.  Pardon the pun- but the horse this year should be careful about horsing around.  Don’t play too hard and keep some of your exuberance in check. This has larger life implications but in terms of beauty it means not being too quick to import the craziest overseas find.  Keep things somewhat grounded and do not go too far in your attempts to surprise and delight.
Goats: Birth Year ’43, ’55, ’67, ’79, ’91, ‘03
Traits: Gentle and easy-going yet tenacious and a perfectionist
Beauty Profile: The soft and gentle appearance of goats can be deceiving!  They have true grit and strength that may go unnoticed.  They are also the artists of all of the animals.  Female goats like feminine/girly things.  They are also crafty enough to be good at DIY projects and may also appreciate more natural alternatives.  They are the ones to make homemade facials, probably with herbs from their own gardens.  They are the Green Goddesses of the beauty world!
Horse Year Predictions: This should be an inspiring year for Goats and their creative pursuits.  Goats might consider lots of life-style based projects whether it’s starting yoga or taking a soap making class.  If your projects are on a bigger scale, say home renovations, just be careful with making financial decisions. Be diligent about price shopping and comparing options. 
Monkeys: Birth Year ’44, ’56, ’68, ’80, ’92, ‘04
Traits: Uber-Charming, Persuasive, Curious but can be Crafty and Cunning
Beauty Profiles: The Monkeys of the world (Miley Cyrus is a famous one) have lots of confidence and their style tends to have a little kick to it.  They are fun loving so they do not take things too seriously and they are trendsetters in their respective cliques. 
Horse Year Predictions: The previous year of the Snake might have felt a little slow to the rambunctious Monkey.  Things will pick-up this year and it will be a time for the Monkey to kick up its heels (a Monkey definitely wears heels- with spikes on them).  It will be important to not go too over board or the Monkey might risk alienating others.  Someone should let Miley know. 
Roosters: Birth Year ’45, ’57, ’69, ’81, ’93, ‘05
Traits: Out-spoken, Colourful, Dignified and Meticulous but can be Abrupt
Beauty Profiles: Roosters can have strong opinions and a very pragmatic streak.  When combined with their sharp eye for detail, you can expect Roosters to pay considerable attention to their appearance.  You’ll never see a Rooster with chipped nail polish or have their roots showing- it would drive them to distraction.  Interestingly- Roosters who were born between the hours of 5-7 both am and pm are especially fiery- they were born crowing! Most Roosters are also social butterflies so they will often be party ready.
Horse Year Predictions: Roosters are incredibly organized and methodical- in all purchases (beauty and fashion ones included), it would be a good idea to write down a wish list.  This will also help the Rooster keep on budget, which can be tricky for many of this sign.  The year of the Horse can be about spontaneity, which can make the always prepared Rooster anxious. Don’t sweat the small stuff and make sure to take good care of yourself!

Dogs: Birth year ’46, ’58, ’70, ’82, ’94, ‘06
Traits: Extremely Honorable, Loyal, Intuitive but can be pessimistic and anxious
Beauty Profiles: Dogs are known for being warm, nurturing people.  They do not necessarily care too much about material possessions so their own vanity may not be their top priority.  However, it is not to say that they will not once in a while indulge in a little treat for themselves. They most likely have one or two favourite beauty luxuries that they like to store away for special occasions.  Female dogs are actually renowned for their beauty but in a un-fussy, down to earth kind of way.
Horse Year Predictions: With a dog’s resolute will, they can accomplish a lot this year.  Dogs will be more likely to attain their goals by keeping them specific and writing them down.  As mentioned, dogs are not really big into materialistic things but they might focus on health goals this year.  As always, they also are always taking care of their loved ones but they should try not to take on everyone else’s worries.  Keep your chin up!
Pigs: Birth Year ’47, ’59, ’71, ’83, ’95, ‘07
Traits: Honest, Generous, Open-hearted but can be Stubborn and Naïve
Beauty Profiles: Pigs like to be pampered so they are the spa goers of the group.  They are not adverse to good food, good wine and la dolce vita in all of its forms.  They love all things beauty wise but will also share with their friends.  Pigs are also known for being quite lucky so while they may be quick to spend their money on life’s luxuries, they can normally keep things in the black. 
Horse Year Predictions: The previous year of the Snake would have been a tough one.  Some of the year’s frustrations might have started to show in the normally well-kept Pig’s appearance.  However, this year is meant to be one of good luck and promise!  So go ahead and visit your favourite spa- get your hair and nails done and be ready to greet the opportunities that come your way.


Winter is Coming…For Your Skin

Clearly, if you are anywhere in North America at this moment, the Game of Thrones tag line does not apply.  Winter has come and it’s come polar vortex and all.  It’s been a harsh winter with cruel winds and if you are lucky, a functioning furnace in high gear.  In our retail store in Ottawa, we’ve been selling a limited edition Regimen Package, “Frozen”. It’s been quite popular as people appreciate the sentiment but are also in desperate need of something to help the inevitable dryness that comes with this type of extreme weather. 
In the midst of this, I’ve decided to incorporate my prescription retinoid back into my skincare routine.  It’s been years since I have regularly used it so now I’m in for the usual obstacle of trying to tolerate it.  I have even more dryness to try and overcome.
Winter Skincare Regimen Featuring CyberDERM Products
Winter Skincare Regimen Featuring CyberDERM Products

With a little experimentation, I’ve stumbled upon a system that is actually working.  It’s keeping the dryness at bay and letting me use my prescription retinoid roughly 3x a week.  I thought I’d share for this month’s blog!  It does include parts of the Frozen package, which is not available on our website. If you would like to try it though and receive the 25% savings, just call us directly and we will set you up and ship it out with no issue.  You can also ask for recommendations on the other parts I’m going to mention as well.

The Winter Cure:
Step One: Take your favourite  pure oil, olive oil is a nice option or argan oil if you have it and use about a palm-full to apply over your face. Gently massage with finger tips to help gently exfoliate dead skin.  You do not necessarily need a facial oil or anything blended for this step- a pure and simple one is best.
Step Two: Take your favourite creamy cleanser (I use Tata Harper’s Regenerating Cleanser) and apply dry to the skin immediately after the facial oil.  Apply in circular motions, again gently massaging.  Wet the face and rinse cleanser off.  The combination of these two steps will gently emulsify the oil, which will have picked up dirt, but will also remove excess oil and made your cleansing step more hydrating. 
You can do this combination cleansing as much as you would like throughout the week.  Try it once or twice a week but if you find it helpful, most people can do it every day in the winter. 
Step Three: Apply Nu-Shroom Hydrafill to cleansed skin.  You will need about a quarter-size amount for the entire face.  This will sink immediately into skin for longer lasting hydration.
Step Four: Apply H20 Hydration over entire face.  The H20 Hydration will help maintain your protective moisture barrier to prevent water loss from the skin. 
Step Five: If you are doing this routine in the AM, you can add your Sun Whip as your final step.  We’ve been recommending the Simply Zinc in the winter since it is more rich in terms of hydration and the increased protection is important when snow reflects 80% of UV rays.  You can of course use the Every Morning based on your preference. 
If you are doing this routine in the PM, do Steps 1-4, after you are home from work.  You can then just before bedtime add in your corrective skincare step.  For me, I’ve been switching between my Differin (prescription retinoid) and my Emblica Light and Bright for brightening.  You can also use your PM Anti-Age at this point if that is part of your routine. 
There you have it!  It involves a lot of layering but just consider how much extra pressure your skin is under at this moment.  With a little assistance, it can be as soft and pinch-able as your summer skin!
Let us know how this works for you or if you have any tips of your own!
All the best,


Considerations in Formulating a Zinc Oxide Sunscreen

Simply ZInc Sun Whip and Every Morning Sun Whip- Zinc Oxide Sunscreens
CyberDERM Zinc Oxide Sunscreens- Simply Zinc and Every Morning

Albeit a technical doc, this still remains a handy link for those looking to really delve into the science of formulations of zinc oxide sunscreens.  These were the principles and thinking that went into formulating our two zinc oxide sunscreens: Simply Zinc Sun Whip SPF 30 and our Every Morning Sun Whip SPF 25.

How Zinc Oxide makes the best sunscreens? How we formulated our Simply Zinc and Every Morning Sun Whips.


Beauty is all about Skin Tone

How to get beautiful Skin-Simply Zinc it.
How to get beautiful skin: Simply Zinc it and other tools

Never has a truer word been spoken before…beauty is all about skin tone. The symmetry of the face used to be the in vogue criteria for what was considered beautiful but now researchers are saying that good skin trumps good bone structure. Click here for the article from the Times in the UK. The good news… beautiful skin is really attainable, getting better cheek bones is a bit trickier.

winterblues, sad, seasonal affective disorder, vitamin d, sunscreen

The Controversy about Vitamin D and sunscreen

Let’s take a look at the controversy about getting enough Vitamin D (especially this winter) while still wearing sunscreen every day.  None of us want to get a case of #SAD, so use these tips to help boost your daily intake.

First consider why vitamin D is so important:

  • It’s primary purpose is to assist parathormone and other metabolic agents in regulating and maintaining normal levels of calcium and phosphorus in the body.
  • Calcium requires vitamin D for efficient transport from the digestive tract into the bloodstream.
  • Recent research suggests that vitamin D is important in the prevention of osteoporosis, high blood pressure, several forms of cancer, and some immune-system diseases. It has now replaced Vitamin C and E as being the “wonder” vitamin, if there is one.

There are two forms of vitamin D that are important in humans:

  • Vitamin D2 : Ergocalciferol contained in plants
  • Vitamin D3 : Cholecalciferol, manufactured in the skin from exposure to UV radiation and present in certain foods.

The controversy:

Recent studies find many individuals in Canada to be deficient in vitamin D. They wear sunscreen for protection in the summer and spend the long winter months wrapped from head to toe in warm clothing. This limits the production of vitamin D from the lower UV exposure. Some recommend to spend a limited time of 10 minutes in the sun without a sunscreen from time to time. At  CyberDERM and Laserderm (our sister medical clinic) we advocate stringent sunscreen protection all year round. The risk of UV exposure far outweigh any benefits from maintaining vitamin D production by the skin:

  • Most cases of skin cancer are potentially preventable, yet across the USA non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) has tripled from 1 million cases in 1987 to 3.5 million in 2009.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that melanoma rates have been increasing by 3.1% per year since 1986, despite the use of sunscreens, since most sunscreens may not protect against the longer UVA rays.
  • 3% of Canadians will develop some form of skin cancer this year.
  • In North America over $6 billion is spent removing actinic and cancerous lesions.
  • UV radiation from sun exposure causes skin cancer, and photoaging and pre-mature aging.

How much vitamin D do you really need?

We prefer that you get your Vitamin D from diet and supplements. The RDA may not be high enough for most Canadians. Most experts agree that children and adults who stay out of the sun require 1000-2000 IU daily, but you can safely take 2-4 thousand IU per day, particularly in the winter months.

What you may not know about vitamin D:

Every Morning Sun Whip, Simply Zinc Sun Whip
Got to love Vitamin D while still protecting yourself from the Sun
  • Vitamin D in the body has to be processed by the liver and the kidneys into a usable form. Whether the source is dietary or from sun exposure, once vitamin D is processed, the metabolic effect is the same. That is why dietary vitamin D works. Your body does not know whether the vitamin D being used came from sun exposure and the skin or from your diet.
  • You can get vitamin D from a variety of sources. Foods such as salmon, sardines, shiitake mushrooms, and egg yolks naturally contain vitamin D. Some foods like milk, orange juice, yogurts, and cheeses are fortified to increase their vitamin D and calcium content. Finally, there are prescription and over-the-counter vitamin D supplements that come in capsules and liquids.

Get your Vitamin D from diet and select your sunscreen wisely:

As mentioned in previous blogs, using a truly broad spectrum for sunscreen is essential. Avoid the high SPF trap where most believe that the higher – the better. For adequate sunburn protection measured by the SPF number, most need a minimum of SPF 25-30. Ensure you get truly broad-spectrum protection from even long wave UVA, most high SPF sunscreens will not protect you adequately. Current research and the findings of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) confirm that zinc and titanium-based formulations are among the safest, most effective sunscreens on the market. Zinc gives complete UVA and UVB, while titanium affords complete UVB and partial UVA protection. Clear zinc products, such as CyberDERM’s Every Morning Sun Whip, provides the complete protection in an aesthetic invisible film.


The Skinny on Sunscreens, Part Deux

Here is another post from May 2009- it’s a good little lexicon to help you understand sunscreen ingredients and everything below is still true today.  You can always bring it to the drugstore if you need a primer or you can just remember that all you need is a high concentration of zinc oxide for a great sunscreen.

In an effort to make reading your sunscreen label really easy, I thought I would do a simple alphabetical lexicon of popular sunscreen ingredients, include ideal concentrations you should be looking for, state whether they are a UVB, UVA protector, and any other relevant things you should know. Here we go:

Avobenzone (Parsol 1789): 3% concentration. Long Wave UVA protector. Is not a stable ingredient and will break down when exposed to sunlight. Should not be used in formulas with Octinoxate. Can in theory be stabilized if combined with Oxybenzone and Octocrylene. Should be used in combination with another UVA protector as it offers marginal protection and does not span the full UVA spectrum.

Drometrizole Trisiloxane (Mexoryl XL): 3-4%. Short Wave UVA protector. A patented ingredient by L’Oreal. Has a synergistic effect when used with Mexoryl SX. Anthelios XL line in highest SPF’s offer the ideal combination of both.

Ecamsule (Mexoryl SX): 3-4% concentration. Short Wave UVA protector. A patented ingredient by L’Oreal. Offers medium protection but is better if combined with a 3-4% concentration of Mexoryl XL.

Homosalate: 5-15%. UVB protector. Provides margninal UVB protection, even in highest concentrations and should be used with other UVB protectors to provide an adequate SPF.

Octinoxate: 7.5%. UVB protector. A good UVB protector. Can be mildly irritating if not in an encapsulated version (unfortunately labels cannot distinguish between encapsulated and non-encapsualted).

Octisalate: 2-10%. UVB protector. Should be used in conjunction with other UVB protectors to get an adequate SPF.

Octocrylene: 2-10%. Primarily UVB, some UVA if in 10% concentration. Should be used in combination with other UVB protectors to get an adequate SPF. Is reported to stabilize avobenzone when used together.

Oxybenzone: 6%. Primarily UVB, some short wave UVA. Oxybenzone is a photo-allergen and many especially those with sensitive skin may find it to be irritating. Is reported to stabilize Avobenzone and makes up one third of Neutrogena’s patented Helioplex ingredient.

Tinosorb S/M: 5-10%. Both UVA and UVB. Not approved for us in the US. A good UVA protector (*to be noted: I have never used any products with Tinosorb and cannot speak to consistency/ texture issues).

Titanium Dioxide: 2-15%. If micronzied both some short wave UVA and UVB, if not micronized mostly UVB. Titanium Dioxide is considered a physical sun blocker. Should be used with Zinc Oxide or some other UVA protector. Excellent in mineral based make-up but can look pasty in some sunscreens if used in too high a concentration.

Every Morning Sun Whip, Simply Zinc Sun Whip
Learning About What Best Protects Us

Zinc Oxide: 10+-25%: The only single ingredient that provides full spectrum protection (short wave and long wave UVA and UVB). High percentages of Zinc Oxide make for an excellent, truly broad spectrum sunscreen. Micronized versions can look white if used in a percentage higher than 7%.  Also provides a nice anti-inflammatory (zinc used in diaper rash creams).

I’ve only included the most popular ingredients but feel free to write in with any that you may have found that are not on the list. I’ve also tried to list them by their most common names but some ingredients actually are known by several different ones.

Basically, when reviewing your bottle, check to make sure that 1. You do have some UVA protector included (most brands will load up on the UVB protectors). 2. Make sure that if you have Avobenzone on your label, you do not have Octinoxate. 3. If you do have Avobenzone, look for another UVA protector to get optimal UVA protection. 4. If your brand includes Oxybenzone, skip it

We formulated our sunscreen with Invisible Zinc Oxide and Encapsulated Octinoxate because we think they work the best but now you have some tools to decide for yourself!

All the Beauty Best!
Sara A. Dudley


The Skinny on Sunscreens, Part I

Check out one of our first blog posts in this month’s retrospective.  This was written back in 2009 and you can see that not much as changed in terms of sunscreens since then.  The FDA has pushed through their amendment to the sunscreen monograph and we are starting to hear more about UVA protection.  Here in Canada, draft legislation is still in consultation so it will be another couple of years before we see its impact on the shelf.

We’ve just our first warm weekend here in Ottawa and a lot of pale faces are emerging but hopefully not before remembering to apply a sunscreen (you should actually be wearing one all year round- word to the wise). The problem though is that there is a lot of misinformation and confusion concerning sunscreens. Just when people were starting to get the message- ‘Wear a sunscreen’- the message had to go and get a lot more complicated.

We have all been told not to use tanning oils, that an SPF of 4 is not adequate. We know that if our sunscreen smells like a pina colada perhaps it is not a ‘serious’ sunscreen. We know to reapply repeatedly. We know that to burn is bad. We do not know, however, that the SPF measurement on the bottle could actually be doing us a disservice. We constantly hear about the numbers game that is SPF but what we really need is to be rewired about the way we think of sunscreens and what it means to be protected.

I have fallen victim to this same misunderstanding before. I’m a sun zealot and I vacation down South frequently. Despite this- I felt like I was being sun smart by wearing sunscreens with SPF’s of 50-60 everyday and I was reapplying it frequently. It was only when CyberDERM began formulating its own sunscreen and I began researching that I realized that the SPF on my bottle was only half the picture (and not the better half either).

Here is the short story. We are exposed to two kinds of UV radiation. The trick to remembering the two is simple: UVA light Ages our skin, UVB Burns, both cause Cancer (thus the rule of ABC). Protection against UVA light is absolutely critical not only for cosmetic reasons but for safety ones as well. However, SPF only measures the amount of protection from UVB light and is not correlated to the amount of protection you are receiving from UVA light whatsoever. In other words, when I turned over my bottle of SPF 50 sunscreen, I realized I was using a brand of sunscreen that offered almost no UVA protection! Worse- I was staying out in the sun for longer periods of time at peak hours because I had a false sense of security.

CyberDERM Every Morning Sun Whip
The Beauty of Being Sun Smart-Every Morning Sun Whip

Currently, both the FDA and Health Canada are coming up with a system to grade sunscreens on their level of UVA protection. They are running a little bit behind though. I would guess however that many sunscreens on the market today will have to consider reformulating once the new labeling laws do come out.

Your next logical question may be to ask then how do you choose a reasonably good sunscreen if an SPF is no longer a responsible indicator. Unfortunately, you cannot rely on the designation that many sunscreens use “Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB”. Both the FDA and Health Canada are also in need of regulating what that designation means precisely. Manufacturers are permitted to label their sunscreens as being broad spectrum as long as they offer a modicum of UVA protection. Many brands however fail to span the full length of the UVA spectrum or they offer very weak protection at best. The hard answer is that there is no easy way to look at the front of a bottle and know the quality of protection you are being afforded. You need to flip the bottle over and look at the ingredients listed as most ingredients protect against UVB only, some protect against UVA only, and even fewer span the entire range of both.

In Part II of this blog, I’ll go over which ingredients to look for and in what concentrations they need to be present in to be effective. The shocking news will not end here though. As a tidbit- did you know that the two of the most popular sunscreen ingredients can have negative reactions when they are exposed to sunlight? The quality of some sunscreens is mind boggling. Yet, until consumers know to ask for better, there is no impetus for manufacturers to change.

Perhaps that is why we never read about the dupe that is SPF. Until the FDA and Health Canada comes out with their own labeling system for UVA, you have to be a sunscreen sleuth to figure what constitutes a good sunscreen. It’s disheartening to think that all the work one does to treat your skin well (including cosmetics/cosmeceuticals, diet, and cosmetic procedures) is being undone the moment you walk outside with mediocre protection.

If you cannot wait until Part II, I suggest reading the Primer on Sunscreens that I wrote for our patients at our sister clinic Laserderm ( Also- a non-profit group based in Washington DC has an excellent database that you can use to type in the name of our sunscreen and see what level of protection you are getting ( You can also search for sunscreen active ingredients in case your brand is not available.

I’d encourage you to be proactive about finding an excellent sunscreen and I promise to help with any questions you may have.

Until Part II, all the beauty best (even if that is hard to come by).

Sara A. Dudley


The contributors to pre-mature aging

What is photoaging
Photoaging is premature aging of the skin caused by repeated exposure to ultraviolet radiation (uv), primarily from the sun, but also from artificial UV sources. Photoaging is different from chronologic aging, as the damaging effects of UV rays from the sun (or UV lamps), alter the normal structures of the skin.
How much is skin aging due to photoaging versus normal aging
On sun exposed skin, up to 90% of aging is due to the negative effects of the sun. The natural aging process is dependent on time and genetics. However, photoaging can be reduced with sun avoidance. A truly broad spectrum sunscreen blocks 90% of the UVA rays that penetrate to the deepest layers of skin. Many high SPF sunscreens do not block enough UVA, and do not adequately prevent photoaging. The best UVA protection comes from zinc oxide, also used in soothing calamine lotion and diaper creams.

Dr. Laughlin, our Medical Consultant and Medical Director of Laserderm, generally categorizes photoaging into the three “D” components: Deterioration, Deflation, and Descent. The best way to avoid photoaging is to have a good sun protection regimen such as CyberDERM Every Morning Sun Whip with 15% invisible zinc oxide, providing a full spectrum of UV protection and your daily moisturizer all in one. Its invisible zinc ingredient meets the Australian and European standards for a complete broad spectrum UVB/UVA protection.

If only I knew this vital information 15 years ago! but since sun damage is cumulative, it is never too late to start! Now I am sunsunscreen smart and think back to centuries ago when woman had radiant porcelain skin, which was the standard beauty mark. The measure of beauty was flawless skin, also considered as a sign of social status. Current fashion embraces porcelain skin once again, where the “tanned look” is out! Since all I ever accomplished from my efforts to desperately achieve any color was an aggregation of freckles left behind, I am in with the out! Unfortunately, these days we also have a competitor to UV rays that also contributes to aging, and that is….


It’s distressing that everyday particles from places such as industrial areas, busy highways, and farms are released into the atmosphere, and carried into the air which we live in and breathe. It is estimated that every day on our planet more than 80,000 tons of particles become airborne, contributing to the pollutants and toxins we breathe. Ontario is the province with the highest levels of pollutants in Canada. Your skin is continuously being exposed to free radical damage, destructive environmental toxins, pollutants, allergens and solar damage, all are significant contributors to the aging process. In skin cells chronological aging accelerates due to the sun and air pollutants that produce free radicals, the accumulation of which become toxic.

The body’s largest organ -the skin- pays a price for protecting us from all of the environmental damages. Everything you do now to prevent damage will reduce your signs of aging.