Tag Archives: best sunscreen

sunscreen launch, summer, zinc oxide, The Sunscreen Company

What You Need to Know from the other Canadian Company Launching Sunscreens this summer

An Interview between Tom Heinar and Sara Dudley, Co-Founders of The Sunscreen Company TM

What You Need to Know from the other Canadian Company Launching Sunscreens this summer

Name: Tom Heinar

Credentials: Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Biochemistry

Years in the Business:

39 Years in the Business Total, 36 Years in Cosmetic Formulations

Previous Companies: Estée Lauder, Revlon Canada, Unilever and more plus own private consulting company Cosmetic Formulation Services

Sara: You have been in the business a very long time.  What’s your relationship with The Sunscreen Company TM and why the focus on sunscreens?

Tom: I’ve been with The Sunscreen Company TM since its earliest days in 1995.  My co-founders and I have been working and developing sunscreens so intensively in that time that I’ve made it clear on any other projects that I work on that I would only formulate sunscreens for us as a company.  We’ve developed some really key innovations in sunscreen formulations, one of which is patent pending, and they are only available through here.

Sara: What are some of the innovations?

Tom: We’ve found a way to improve not only the SPF of all mineral formulas but also the UVA protection factor, which is critical to making the best sunscreen possible.

Sara: So you can have a high SPF (SPF 40-50+) in an all mineral sunscreen? Is it a true SPF?

Tom: Yes, you can absolutely have a high SPF in an all mineral sunscreen, i.e. use only inorganic filters like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.  When people say the SPF is fake, they are alluding to the fact that you can game the SPF test by including things like anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories in the formula that take away skin redness but only use low concentrations of the active filters.  The SPF test uses human subjects and a measure of skin redness so if you take away skin redness then you can get an artificially high SPF.  That is commonly done in the industry, however it is not something we would do.  

All of our formulas use high concentrations of zinc oxide, a minimum of 15% but as high as the maximum of 25%.  We do use other minerals like titanium dioxide and some proprietary mixes of others to give a real SPF of 45-50, depending on the specific formula.

Sara: You mentioned a patented innovation. What is it?

Tom: We’ve developed a proprietary dispersion method that makes the minerals we use much more efficient in protecting against both UVA and UVB rays.  It’s an Ecocert certified organic ingredient that holds the active ingredients in uniform suspension so that you get even protection.  Zinc oxide has a tendency to want to clump together so by keeping it in uniform suspension you make it more efficient.  A 15% concentration of zinc oxide then begins to act like a 25% concentration, and a 25% concentration is even better.

In short, we’ve found a way to make the most protective zinc oxide sunscreens- ever.  

Sara: What about the idea that an SPF 30 blocks up to 97% and an SPF 60 only blocks up to around 98%? Is a higher SPF necessary?

Tom: That is true but it’s only part of the story.  In years passed, we have tried to get people to move away from just focusing on SPF because it only really talks about protection against UVB. It missed the critical factor of what the UVA protection was.  

Five years ago, we wanted people to use good high concentration zinc oxide sunscreens in order to get better UVA protection.  A lot of the other, conventional sunscreens were what we called UVB biased, i.e. might have had an SPF 100 but really poor UVA protection.  So we didn’t want people sacrificing their protection against UVA to get a high SPF.

Things have changed now though.  You don’t have to compromise between the two.  You can get excellent UVA protection with high concentration zinc oxide sunscreens and get high UVB/SPFs as well.  When we talk about having next generation sunscreens, that is what we are talking about.

Sara: What are some use cases where people might care about having a higher SPF?

Tom: Certainly for some Canadians mid-winter, who have minimal daily exposure outside- or doing activities like commuting to work, a lower SPF is ok.  However, if you are going to have extended exposure, then a higher SPF is better as long as you are not trading off your UVA protection.  

Sara: Are these sunscreens aesthetic?

Tom: Yes. We’ve always said there is no point formulating a sunscreen that is protective if it doesn’t look good on the skin. It’s not offering any protection if it stays in the bottle so to speak.  People really liked the transparency and matte quality of our previous formulations.  Our next generation of formulas are equally as good.  

Sara: Can you discuss some of the technical innovations in the new Ava Isa SPF 45 line?

Tom: That product was intended to be incredibly matte and dry on the skin to feel weightless.  It’s thixotropic, meaning it seems to be thicker but as soon as you put any pressure on it, say pushing it through the opening of the bottle, it thins out.  When you rub it on the skin, it drys almost instantaneously so you don’t feel any heavy sensation.  That took a considerable amount of work during development to get that texture.

It also includes our patent pending innovation so it’s 15% zinc oxide makes it more protective than our previous 22% zinc oxide (former Simply Zinc SPF 30) in the UVA range by at least 30%.

Sara: What about the upcoming Simply Zinc Ultra SPF 50?

Tom: That formula is a complete revision from its previous version (Simply Zinc SPF 30).  It contains 25% zinc oxide, so the maximum allowed in many countries.  It is very light in texture as well and has close to the same viscosity as water.  It has really light weight vegetable oils from saturated fats like coconut alkanes, and it again dries down on the skin almost instantaneously.  

It also contains our patent pending innovation so to our knowledge and according to our testing, it is one of the most protective zinc oxide sunscreens available, in the world.  

Sara: What is next in sunscreen formulations?

Tom: We always are looking for ways to improve.  We are looking at the impact of blue light and its effect on melasma and photo-aging. We will always look at ways to make zinc oxide even more protective, although I think we’ve gotten as close to perfect as we can with that.

We’ve also developed a formula that mixes a 22% zinc oxide with 9% Tinosorb M and 1% Tinosorb S.  They are incredibly safe and effective filters from Europe that are not allowed in the US.  It’s unfortunate because that is truly as close to a perfect sunscreen as we can get but we are restricted from selling it in North America.  It will change the game when we can sell it though and we are looking for global partners to help us.

We’ve really taken the time to specialize in sunscreens.  We want to live up to our name as The Sunscreen Company TM.  When you do that, the possibilities are endless.

sunscreen, sunburn

When Your Sunscreen Burns You

When Your Sunscreen Burns YouScreen Shot 2017-05-31 at 12.32.18 PM

Screen Shot 2017-05-31 at 12.32.10 PM

Solar Simulator Estimated SPF of Sunscreen with the above actives

Editor’s Note: Since this post’s original publication, Canada has also been reeling from several incidences of infants receiving severe 2nd degree burns while using sunscreens specifically marketed for children. In looking at one of the product reported, Banana Boat Kids Free SPF 50+, it fortunately does not have some of the red flags that I have seen in other children spray sunscreens like alcohol and oxybenzone.  My quick assessment of the product leads me to suspect that it’s unlikely to be a true SPF 50+ with ingredients of 3% avobenzone, 6% octocrylene and 10% homosalate.  In looking at the solar simulator, a helpful on-line tool for estimating SPF and the UVA protection factor, this ingredient load would give an SPF of 15-17.  I would also consider whether the avobenzone was fully stabilized from photo-degrading (i.e. breaking down in the sun) by the octocrylene.  Finally, spray sunscreens are always problematic because you can just never be sure that you are applying adequate amounts evenly.  I understand they are convenient for children (I have a wriggly toddler so I REALLY understand) but stay tuned for some tips for applying sunscreen and providing the best protection against the sun for young children in our next blog post.

In today’s digital age, it’s common place for alarming stories to bubble up and go viral, typically with the pictures to match.  Pictures of bad sun burns can sometimes make for fun Buzzfeed columns but when children are involved and their burns are significant, the stories are heartbreaking.

The news cycles in Australia and New Zealand are replete right now with the story of a brand of sunscreen manufactured for their skin cancer council called Peppa the Pig.  This was a brand of sunscreen especially marketed towards kids so the several pictures of young children with 2nd degree burns were shocking to everyone.   Many questioned- how is this possible?

We source our zinc oxide from Australia and in our minds, we always imagined it to be the land of sunscreen.  You can imagine the need for it.  It’s one of the few places in the world with a predominantly fair population with never ending and intense sun.  I was surprised then when I was corresponding with a beauty e-commerce owner in Australia about what she felt was the complete lack of good options.  She said they also faced the same issue with consumer confusion.  Many were starting to get the message that they needed to wear sunscreen every single day but most stumbled in trying to decipher what to use.  So many people were still getting caught in the trap of relying on the front of the box where their only real cue for information remains the SPF.  As we’ve stated many times (here and here), SPF can be a misleading piece of information, especially if it’s the only piece of information you are looking at.  The real source of information remains the ingredient list, however, I concede that is a daunting task to wade through complex chemical names and percentages (if available!) even for professionals.  We continue to use a tool called the Sunscreen Simulator- it’s an online tool created by a provider of sunscreen filters that allows you to graphically see what your protection looks like.  It’s not perfect but it’s one of the few tools we have.

In taking a cursory look at the family of Peppa the Pig products, they do contain some ingredients with questionable photo allergy data.  Encazamene is a filter that we do not have here in North America. There are studies that show it has potential issues with photo-allergy.  We also would never use it in our formulations as it’s a small particle sized filter that can enter the body.  The products also contained Avobenzone, which is ubiquitous in the market.  It also has a small risk of photo-allergy (about 1% in the general population) but we also would never use it since it can enter the body.  Moreover, research is mounting about its potential as a serious endocrine disruptor with a similar profile as oxybenzone. Click here to read more about that.

The Peppa the Pig situation prompted the very understandable consumer reaction of calling for more regulation.  This incident does represent a failure on the part of regulatory bodies. However, it’s not an issue of lack of regulation but one of focusing on the wrong pieces of information.  In an ideal world, we would have a global standard for sunscreen regulation.  We wouldn’t have the current situation where some countries had better access to better sunscreen filters than others.  We would settle on a robust standard for measuring the UVA protection of a sunscreen and would represent that in a meaningful and clear way on the label for sunscreens.  We would find a better test for measuring SPF that does not allow manufacturers to ‘game’ the test and falsely inflate their SPF .  We would review every single filter, both old and new, from an integrated medical perspective.  In short, we would look at its effectiveness but also at its potential impact on our health, including hormonal health and the environment.  We’d use the precautionary principle to say that if an ingredient had significant concerns associated with it- that would be enough to call for a suspension of use.  Especially, as there are many ingredients that do not have controversy with them and are effective.

The secondary cost of these incidences remains that consumer faith gets shaken in products that are meant to protect.  The confusion leads many to just abandon the use of sunscreen altogether.  It’s an unfortunate reaction that would only lead to more potential for damage.  Education and advocacy remain our only tools and engaging through our professional communities our means for spreading the word.

We’d love to hear your take on this so please leave us your thoughts in the comment section.

All the best,

Sara

Simply Zinc, Every Morning, CyberDERM Sun Whips

Skincare Tips from Maddy

Maddy Showing Off Her Sun Whip.

Maddy Showing Off Her Sun Whip.

If you haven’t heard, Maddy Mackenzie is our Sun Whip ambassador, uber athlete and sprint kayaking star.  This month we hear from her on her skincare tips and more.

About Madison Mackenzie:

Age: 20

From Chelsea Quebec with the passion, ambition, and determination to one day become the fastest female sprint kayaker in the world. As a member of the Senior National Team of Canada and a Elite athlete of the Quebec Provincial Team her eyes are set on gold at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Q & A with CyberDERM

Q: Take us through your day to day skincare routine as an athletic on the waters.

A: In the morning I use CyberDERM’s Every Morning Sun Whip before I head out to train. After my morning training I head to the gym in the afternoon which I then go back out to the waters for a second time. Since I train twice a day outside, I would reapply a SPF with the Simply Zinc Sun Whip to ensure I’m always fully protected throughout the duration of my day.

Q: Sunscreen seems to be a huge part of your skincare regimen, why so?

A: Absolutely! I take my skin protection very seriously. Lucy, a dear friend and a previous coach for my training was diagnosed with Melanoma. After her passing away, I won the Panera Games under Lucy’s name, she is someone incredibly inspiring and will always be close to my heart. Sunscreen is something that is crucial to apply and its part of leading a healthy lifestyle which is why it is a key product in my skincare routine.

Q: If you could tell your younger self or anyone out there in your generation one thing about skincare, what would it be?

 A: That a tan isn’t that important.

Q: Your skincare Faves:

A: Every Morning Sun Whip SPF 25 and Simply Zinc Sun Whip SPF 30

Q: Your skincare Ethos:

A:  Taking care of your body and skin is part of self love and self care.

 

 

sunscreen, dangers, oxybenzone,

Sunscreen sprays, burns, dead coral and more: what we’ve heard in the news about sunscreens

blog image July 2016Things We’ve Heard About Sunscreen This Month:

Why is Sunscreen Bad for Coral Reefs?

 It turns out the UV filter Oxybenzone is hard on more than just our bodies, it can be absolutely devastating to the coral reefs that span our oceans. While deeply saddening , it’s not necessarily news. If you recall from our blog post from The Sunscreen Doc, click here to read, there have been signs up in Hawaii telling people to wash off their sunscreen from a long time ago. This photo was taken back in 2006.

Sunscreens Why is Oxybenzone so detrimental to the reefs? Oxybenzone is a photo-toxicant, meaning it’s detrimental effects are triggered by sunlight (making it an odd choice for a sunscreen ingredient). In very small concentrations, Oxybenzone was shown to disrupt the living larval forms of coral by reducing their motility, ossifying their exo-skeleton and causing its DNA to mutate. The overall effect was to exacerbate bleaching of the reef, something that is linked to rising sea temperatures, which is the ultimate death knell for the living organism.

Swimmers (but also all sunscreen users) should look for Oxybenzone free products but can also use sun protective clothing to reduce the amount of sunscreen they have to wear overall.

2nd degree burns on boy after using SPF 50 sunscreen

A mom in the UK posted pics of her son’s 2nd degree burns after spending 5 hours at the beach but after having religiously used sunscreens all day. The family had been using a popular sunscreen spray marketed especially for kids by Banana Boat. While there are multiple versions of the kids spray formula, we have found some versions that make it very clear as to what could have happened.

Banana boat ingredientsThis version shown here, has numerous potential issues with it (including the use of parabens in the non-medicinals). The most obvious issue is that it combines Avobenzone with Octinoxate, which is somewhat of a rookies mistake. It’s a well established fact that octinoxate degrades Avobenzone when exposed to sunlight. The end result is a sunscreen that loses the ability to protect against UVA as the Avobenzone degrades but then also against UVB as the octinoxate begins to deteriorate as well. Click here to read more about this well documented phenomenon. Fortunately, it’s not one that we see very often now so it’s astonishing to find it in a sunscreen for babies.

The fact that this sunscreen was an aerosol spray I believe compounds the problem and you can read more about that in the next section. This sunscreen also is just generally a poor choice due to the potential issue of endocrine disrupting chemicals with Avobenzone, un-encapsulated octinoxate, the varios salates and the parabens included in the non-medicinals. It’s all around a poor sunscreen but it’s all made worse by the fact that it’s marketed towards kids.

Aerosol Sunscreen Might Not be as Safe as you think

Finally, spray sunscreens currently exist in a nether-region in US regulation. The FDA has mandated as of 2011 that they would impose a ban on all spray sunscreens unless manufacturers could prove their safety. Spray sunscreens are still available until such ban is actually enforced but the concerns against their safety center around inhalation risk but also as to efficacy when it comes to applying them sufficiently and uniformly. Anecdotally, before my days of working at CyberDERM, I purchased a can of spray sunscreen and threw it in my purse to have on hand throughout the summer days. Unfortunately, the can leaked and pooled in the bottom off my silver coloured leather bag. After, quasi-melting my phone and I-pod (was back in 2010 and my beloved I-Pod Shuffle was toast!), the sunscreen also had stripped the silver paint of my bag. Most spray sunscreens use alcohol as the main solvent to solubilize their filters, which is how it was able to dissolve paint. It’s unsavoury to imagine that sitting on your skin all day.

sunscreens, fertility, male sperm

UV Filters Interfere with Human Sperm and More Health Implications of EDC’s

New Study Shows the Health Implications of UV Filters on Human Sperm

Our company founder and my father Dr. Denis Dudley has been voicing his concerns about the role of some UV filters and other potential endocrine disrupting chemicals since we first started making sunscreens back in 2008. Anyone who has ever met him (in the hallways of our sister dermatology clinic, in airports, drug store aisles or when sitting by the beach) can vouch for how passionate he is about the role of sunscreens and their impact on our health and environment. I think this passion partially stems from a little bit of frustration and a whole lot of being perplexed. The argument against using certain filters seems so practical, reasonable, and intuitive and yet it’s not very well received by many medical professionals, regulatory agencies and academics. These critics point to a dearth in rigorous science but as my father has pointed out- a rigorous experiment would involve applying these products every day across generations to see their full potential effect and how ethical is that? Continue reading

UVB sunscreen

Can Using a Sunscreen Be Worse than Using a Tanning Bed? The Health Implications of a UVB Sunscreen.

For the month of April, we are featuring a guest blog written by our company founder, Dr. Denis Dudley on the health implications of using a UVB sunscreen.

Many of us are well aware of the dangers of using a tanning bed and certainly a dermatologist would never recommend using one.  However, Dr. Dudley investigates a recent study that shows using an unbalanced sunscreen might do even more damage.  So how do you protect yourself and your loved ones?

Click here to find out more.

oxybenzone, beach, sunscreen

9 Reasons Why Oxybenzone Might be One of the Most Dangerous Chemicals in Your House

For the month of December, the Sunscreen Doc is our guest poster on why the chemical Oxybenzone might be one of the most dangerous chemicals in your life.  Click here to read the full text of the blog.

How to best tell if your zinc sunscreen is safe.

Response to “Natural” Sunscreen Controversy

How to best tell if your zinc sunscreen is safe.

How to best tell if your zinc sunscreen is safe.

The internet has been on fire, again, this summer with the recent controversy over The Honest Company TM’s specific ‘natural’ zinc oxide sunscreen.  Out of respect for them as a competitor, we won’t speak to their specific case but we felt it was important to address the issue as it balloons out to others relating to sunscreens.  We’ve been hearing a lot of “are ‘natural’ sunscreens safe?” and general questioning of zinc oxide based sunscreens.  If you read our blog consistently then this might contain some repetition but we felt we had to put our view point out there and address some of the inaccuracies that are flying about.

Issue #1: What does Natural Mean?

This has always been a thorny issue- we don’t actually claim all-natural on our products or really emphasize this in our marketing.  Zinc oxide is a chemical- it’s true.  The zinc oxide found in sunscreens has been processed considerably for very important formulation based reasons.  Particle size, distribution, and the material it’s dispersed in are addressed in a lab and not in nature.  However, their safety stems from the fact that they are considered large particle based filters that sit on the surface of the skin.  Even nano forms of skin are too large to be absorbed by healthy, intact skin and studies have repeatedly confirmed that even on damaged or broken skin, they remain within the upper dead layers.

Zinc oxide is sometimes referred to as a physical filter but even this is not completely accurate.  Micronized and nano sized zinc actually reflect light (i.e provide physical protection) and absorb and scatter UV light (provide a chemical type of protection).  Truly accurate terms would be inorganic (from your days of highschool chemistry not related to environmental claims like in organic agriculture) or particulate based filters.

Issue #2: Is Zinc Safe? Is it Effective?

Zinc’s safety comes from the fact that it’s still the only filter in North America that can provide the most complete broad-spectrum protection against both the UVB (burning rays) and UVA (aging rays, both UVB and UVA cause cancer).  There are other filters world-wide which provide broad-spectrum protection (hello Tinosorbs!) but they are not approved for mainstream use in the US and Canada.

Until then, zinc is the only filter that can provide complete protection but only if used in a high concentration. The maximum allowable in North America is 25%-  and there is a big difference between a formula that has 22% vs. 9%.  The more zinc the better protection.

Issue # 3: What Other Factors can Affect Protection?

Formulating a good sunscreen is actually quite technical and is complicated.  Factors like pH can affect whether the zinc is in its active form- a formula with too low pH can actually render the zinc oxide inert.  Dispersion plays a role.  Zinc oxide can absolutely be dispersed so that it’s evenly and uniformly distributed within a formula.  There are some brands that require customers to shake or knead a product- these formulas will show separation otherwise.  You know your formula has separated when clear oils burst from the tub or packaging and the white zinc comes out separately.  In our minds, that shows product instability and is not a good thing.  Our formulas stay emulsified over the course of their shelf life, which ensures that you are getting uniform amounts of zinc oxide with every application.

Issue #4: How are Zinc Oxide sunscreens tested?  

In Canada, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sunscreens are regulated by the Health Canada division of the Natural Health Products Division.  They are regulated differently than the sunscreens that include the other filters but these regulations deal more with manufacturing practices.  The Good Manufacturing Practices for Natural Health Products are quite sensible and in fact Health Canada has stated that the practices for the other type of sunscreens might be too excessive and actually blocking innovation in the industry (which impacts Canadians ability to access the best and latest in sunscreen innovation).  In Canada, a sunscreen with a Natural Health Number must with every batch produced show that they contain the amount of active ingredient as per their label and that they are free from bacterial growth.

Issue #5: How is their SPF tested?

In terms of SPF, before a sunscreen is approved (i.e. before it gets to production phase), a company has to submit results from the FDA standardized method of SPF testing.  This is true of all sunscreens that are approved for sale in Canada, irregardless of the active ingredient found within them.  SPF tests are done on human volunteers since there is no currently accepted standard for measuring SPF in-vitro (i.e.in a lab, normally using acrylic plates, not people and not animals).  Hopefully, this will change one day, as you could argue there are ethical issues with irradiating humans.

However, while this SPF test is required and standardized, that does not mean that it’s a perfect test by any means.  We’ve repeatedly argued that many labels simply do not make sense in terms of their reported SPF’s.  There is a SPF type of arithmetic that is widely accepted in the industry.  If the SPF is seemingly too high for the amount of active that is within the product then you can know for sure that some formulatory chicanery has taken place.  These SPF manipulations are allowed within the standard protocol of testing (i.e. the company is not lying about their results)- it’s just that these results are the product of gaming the test.

Briefly, SPF tests rely on the measurement of redness produced within the skin.  When compared to a standardized formula, a sunscreen with a low SPF will still allow for redness to be created in the human volunteers skin after being irradiated with UV light.  A higher SPF in theory would prevent more redness from appearing.  Unfortunately, you can alter this response by including anti-inflammatories and anti-oxidants.  For example, aspirin reduces our body’s natural response to become red when exposed to UV light, which is why you take it if you have a sunburn.  However, it does not prevent or repair damage done.  It just takes away the biological marker that tells us that damage has been done.  There are plenty of anti-inflammatories that can be considered natural- for example the derivative of chamomile.  Anti-oxidants do provide some repair in addition to redness reduction but they don’t prevent damage like a typical sunscreen filter.

If you are worried that your SPF might be artificially inflated, you can use the chart below to do your basic SPF calculation.  A very well-formulated sunscreen will provide protection towards the higher ranges but there is very little to no chance that an active would produce any more.  In short, if your sunscreen has 10% or less zinc oxide and no other active ingredients listed, it’s unlikely to be a true SPF 30 and most likely used anti-inflammatories and anti-oxidants in their non-active ingredients to artificially boost the SPF during testing.

The chart below shows the theoretical maximum # of SPF units that 1% of any active could possible deliver.  These are theoretical maximums and real life figures could be lower.  As an example, a sunscreen that has only 10% zinc oxide can in theory have a maximum true SPF of 16 (10 x 1.6).  However, if you were to add 7.5% of titanium dioxide (a filter that protects mostly against UVB and a little UVA), your new true SPF could in theory be an SPF 35.5 ((10 x 1.6)+ (7.5 x 2.6)).

Filter Max. # of SPF Units per 1% of Active
UVB
Octinoxate 2.8
Homosalate 1.5
Titanium Dioxide 2.6
Octisalate 1.6
Oxybenzone 2.3
Octocrylene 2.1
UVA
Avobenzone 1.9
Zinc Oxide 1.6
Tinosorb M 2.2
Tinosorb S 3.1

Hopefully, this will begin to provide some explanation for some of the controversy going around right now.  We haven’t even touched on UVA protection, safety of ingredients from an endocrine disruption point of view, issues with regulation or third-party seals like the CDA logo.  We regularly post about sunscreens though so if you are interested, I’d recommend staying tuned each month.  Until then, let us know what you think and feel free to write in with questions.

All the best,

Sara

botox, cosmetic, beauty

Doing the Math When It Comes to Beauty Interventions

botox, cosmetic, beauty

What Can We Expect from Beauty Interventions?

How much improvement can you really expect from a cosmetic? How many years should you shave off your appearance with regular use of something like a facial filler or a regular IPL?

In my years running a cosmetic and OTC (sunscreens are considered drugs in Canada and the US), I’ve developed a rough personal metric for how I evaluate a product or active ingredients level of effectiveness. I’ve also worked in proximity to our sister dermatology clinic and have a rough short hand for what people can reasonably expect for any of the numerous options out there. I’ll go through some of the possible options below- when I say % of improvement that can be expected, I generally mean how much do the visible signs of aging like wrinkles, laxity, pore size, dryness, discolouration seem to improve from before to after use. In terms of how this % of improvement translates into actually visibly looking younger- it gets to be an even less exact science. Having said that though, while it’s not exact it seems intuitive and I’m betting something that most people if they were forced to quantify could agree on.

A Caveat about Prevention

None of these metrics speak to prevention because how do you quantify something that didn’t happen? It would be impossible and yet prevention is invaluable and one of the main reasons we go to these great beauty lengths.

Anti-Aging Beauty Intervention Degree of Intervention and Interval of Use Reasonable % of Improvement that can be expected Translation into Years of % Improvement
Cosmetic Minimal intervention/Daily Use 10-30% 0-3 years
OTC/Prescription Skincare Minimal to Moderate/ Daily Use 20-35% 1-4 years
Spa based Treatment (facials, microdermabrasion, mild peels, IPL) Minimal/ Seasonal 10-30% 0-3 Years
Medical Based Light Treatment Moderate/ 1-3 x sessions up to annual or seasonal use for maintanence 30-50% 3-5 years
Botox and Fillers Minimal-Moderate/Seasonal or Annual use for maintenance 30-60% 3-7 years
Medical Based Light Treatments Intensive/ 1-2x per lifetime 50-85% 7-10+ years
 

Cosmetics and OTC/Prescription Skincare

When I’m researching a new active to potentially formulate with, I reasonably expect that within 2-3 months of regular use, a customer will see roughly 20-30% improvement of whatever I’m trying to target. A bare bones moisturizer will still always help minimally, let’s say 10% or less- hydrated skin looks better than dry skin. However, a really great cosmetic means that a customer should actually see a noticeable difference in their skin- enough that someone might remark, “Hey, what have you been using? Your skin looks nice” or something to that effect. They might not be able to pinpoint exactly what is different but something catches their attention. I’d say you can expect a slightly more pronounced effect with OTC or prescription based skincare but you typically will also have more side effects to manage like irritation. Proportionate pain still equals proportionate gain.

Spa Based Treatments

I’m not meaning to malign spa-based treatments like facials, microderms or light peels by saying they have comparable effects to daily use of cosmetics. It just stands to reason that something you might have done in an hour treatment, even if done 3-4 times per year should have relatively similar effects to a less potent but daily treatment. Spa treatments also have the added value of relaxation, which is inestimable in its worth.

Medical Based Light Treatments

Fraxel Duo, sun damage, laser, cosmetic

Before and After with Fraxel Duo to improve sun damage

I’m lumping in a wide range of light based treatments into one category. Most of these will have some amount of downtime associated with them- from a day or two of looking a little nightmarish to 2 weeks plus. Some will use them as an intervention based treatment- for example the 45 year old woman who wants to clear up significant sun damage. Normally, this requires a more aggressive treatment plan but then with a good skincare plan in place (including sunscreen) minimal intervention afterwards will be needed. Some will start earlier and they will proceed with less intervention but will keep it up over their lifetime for maintenance. Then again as my mom is fond of saying- it’s all maintenance after 40.

You can get some nice and noticeable results from the less aggressive approaches to some real wowzer ones that absolutely look like you’ve Benjamin Buttoned back five years.

Botox and Fillers

botox, fillers, Soft Lift,

Before and After Soft Lift TM (combination of Botox TM and Injectable Fillers)

Botox and fillers on their own or in combination with something like the Soft Lift TM technique can produce some results with real impact with less downtime, which is why they are so popular. Of course, they can have the reputation for making you look like a Real Housewife Of … with bizarre contortions of lips and puffed up cheeks. I’ve never thought that was how they are intended to be used. You should still look like you.

Medical Based Light Treatments- Full Resurfacing

wrinkles, anti-aging, sun damage, laser procedures

Before and After Full Resurfacing

I thought this one deserved its own category since it’s still the most jaw dropping but also most intense treatment on the block. Full Resurfacing is more art than pure science so should only be done by a very skilled professional. There is also significant downtime and post-care and you need someone with experience to guide you through it. I call this procedure though the magical eraser because it is intended to buff out the deepest of wrinkles and photo-damage. We’ve had women in their 70’s+ have this procedure done and you want to do a little communal dance with them after recovery because they really do look 10-15 years younger.

The End Goal- Being Ageless

There is a reason I named one of our most popular Regimen Packages, Be Ageless- in mind my it’s what we are all after and I mean this from a purely superficial and shallow way. I won’t even attempt to discuss the importance of an ageless soul or mind- that is for theologists and philosophers far smarter than me to tackle. I mean from a purely looks-based assessment we still all want to get to the point were we transcend age. It becomes about more than shaving off years. I don’t think anyone wants to look twenty when they are fifty. When you look at women like Jane Fonda, Meryl Streep, Halle Berry, you can’t pinpoint their age and you don’t care to either. How do you get to be ageless? There is a magic mix of genes, lifestyle, prevention but probably some degree of the above beauty interventions too. Sometimes a lifetime of great skincare will do the trick! If you have your magic mix, let us know in the comments and share your secrets!

All the best,

Sara