Dr Uzma Olbrich on how to protect our skin
Whether it's sun protection or sun damage correction you're looking for, we've got the lowdown on how best to look after your skin.
How many women do you see at your clinic with skin damage from the sun?
I would say over 70% of women present sun damage to varying degrees. Some visit because they are aware that they have sun damage and want correction, whereas others come to the clinic for unrelated treatments and are unaware they have sun damage.
It’s especially common in those in their 20s and early 30s. The signs are there though; for example, increased freckling with sun exposure – it may look attractive in younger years, however, there is damage happening and as the person progresses into middle age, those freckles become larger patches of pigmentation, which is less attractive and more ageing.
What are some simple tips you can do to protect your skin each day?
Sun protection, sun protection, sun protection! You should wear SPF 365 days of the year, even when it is cloudy. Harmful rays are still present and hitting the skin causing damage.
Hydration is important for the body and your skin – drink plenty of water during the day.
Vitamin C creams are great protection against harmful free radicals that we find in the atmosphere – plenty of antioxidant activity. The creams do need to be medical grade to be potent enough to benefit.
Are there any products you can recommend that are specific for your face?
We use the ZO Skin Health range at the clinic, which is a leading global medical skincare brand backed by medical research. It’s the Rolls Royce of skincare and we get great results for all of our clients using it. Unfortunately, there is no magic cream that fixes everything. In the world of medical skincare, you need to have a skincare regime to keep your skin looking young and vibrant.
In your teens and early twenties, protecting your skin against sun, pollution and smoking is vital and you should start young. These factors in combination with genetics are the biggest ageing factors out there.
I recommend the following:
A good exfoliator
To reduce dead skin cell and congestion of pores. The ZO exfoliating polish smells like a spa product.
To control the damaging oil in your skin. This helps with inflammatory, oily diseases like acne and spot breakouts.
To shield skin from the damaging and ageing effects of high-energy visible (HEV) light.
As we get older…
Consideration should be given to adding in anti-ageing products like Vitamin A (also known as Retinol). This is THE magic ingredient to fight against ageing changes as it stimulates your skin cells and increases your collagen production. Collagen is ‘king’. It keeps our skin plump and elastic. It is possible with proper care and attention to keep our skin looking and feeling supple with minimal line formation well into our 40s and 50s if we start early enough.
What should you look for in SPFs /sunscreens?
Choose a sunscreen with “broad spectrum” protection.
Sunscreens with this label protect against both UVA and UVB rays. All sunscreen products protect against UVB rays, which are the main cause of sunburn and skin cancers. But UVA rays also contribute to skin cancer and premature ageing.
Look for a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.
The SPF number is the level of protection the sunscreen provides against UVB rays. Higher SPF numbers do mean more protection, but the higher you go, the smaller the difference becomes. SPF 30 sunscreens filter out about 97%, SPF 50 sunscreens about 98%, and SPF 100 about 99%. No sunscreen protects you completely.
‘Water-resistant’ does not mean ‘waterproof.’
No sunscreens are waterproof or “sweatproof,” and manufacturers are not allowed to claim that they are. If a product’s front label makes claims of being water-resistant, it must specify whether it lasts for 40 minutes or 80 minutes while swimming or sweating. For best results, reapply sunscreen at least every two hours and even more often if you are swimming or sweating. Sunscreen usually rubs off when you towel yourself dry, so you will need to put more on.
We recommend the ZO Sunscreens. They are all broad-spectrum, so they protect against UVA and UVB. But they also protect against damaging infra red-A (IR-A) rays and high energy visible (HEV) rays from light sources like screens. These rays penetrate deeper than UVA and UVB and are linked to more age-related changes.
All of the ZO sunscreens also contain a timed-release antioxidant complex that slowly releases protection against free radicals over a 12 hour period. They are the most effective sunscreens around, providing superior protection against all environmental pollutants.
Is there anything that puts you at higher risk of skin damage?
Smoking is a big ageing factor, the largest after UV exposure. Years of smoking when combined with sun-worshipping, gives rise to very deep lines and wrinkles that are often very difficult to reverse. We can start seeing this degree of change in the skin in the late 30s, early 40s. This is premature ageing. I like to educate my patients as early as I can to prevent this situation in later years.
Pollution and environmental free radicals are also damaging. Protecting against these with plenty of antioxidants in your SPF and products is important.
Excess alcohol can have a big impact on your skin. It can increase inflammation and it changes the hormonal balance which can worsen conditions such as acne and rosacea. Alcohol also dehydrates the skin. In someone who drinks excessively for a number of years, we start seeing dull, dehydrated skin, deeper lines. We also see enlarged pores, blotchy, red and puffy skin due to worsening inflammatory conditions like rosacea.
Dr Uzma's top tips:
Seek advice from a skin clinic early on and be very protective of your skin from a young age. The skin is your largest organ, and it gets a battering through life. It deserves to be treated well, and looked after medically, with medical-grade skincare. Beauty products often claim to contain products such as Vitamin C and Vitamin A, but they don’t have the required potency to be effective.
No one magic cream will give you younger, fresher, brighter, glowing skin. You need to consider a skincare regime to achieve that ideal and then it can be done. We see big changes in our patient’s skin daily once they’ve taken the leap.