Spring has sprung! In fact, summer is almost here. The city is full of smiling faces sitting in bustling outdoor cafes, frolicking in the park and hanging out on the stoop, while we witness the uncovering of long-hidden winter-pale skin. What better time to kick off my skin health column with my favorite topic: Sun protection.
Asian skin faces 2 big challenges when it comes to finding proper sun protection: Its yellow undertone and its tendency to be more sensitive.
Proper sun protection is probably the most important precaution you can take to preserve your skin’s youthful appearance and long-term health. Although Asian skin has a higher sun-tolerance than Caucasian skin due to its higher melanin content, it still needs daily sun protection that provides broad spectrum coverage, especially from the skin-aging UVA rays. Asian skin faces 2 big challenges when it comes to finding proper sun protection: Its yellow undertone and its tendency to be more sensitive. The only ingredients approved on the US-market today that provide high UVA protection are Avobenzone (also known as Parsol 1789), Zinc Oxide, and Titanium Dioxide. Avobenzone is a chemical sunscreen agent and can irritate sensitive skin. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, both non-chemical, mineral sunscreen agents and suitable for sensitive skin, are hard for Asian skin to wear: The chalky, whiteness of mineral sunscreen looks particularly frightening on yellow-toned skin.
Although Asian skin has a higher sun-tolerance than Caucasian skin due to its higher melanin content, it still needs daily sun protection that provides broad spectrum coverage
Does that mean we have to choose between potentially irritating our skin, and looking like a Kabuki-figure? Not necessarily. Outside the US, you will find a highly effective, non-irritating, non-whitening UVA-sunscreen agent that has been used for a long, long time. It’s called Mexoryl, and can be found in the sun care products of La Roche Posay, Vichy, LancÃ´me or L’Oreal Paris throughout Canada, Asia, and Europe. Mexoryl is a true genius amongst sunscreen agents (therefore patented by beauty giant L’Oreal). It’s excellent for sensitive skin, it’s non-whitening, and it’s stable! Why it has not been approved by the FDA for the US market yet is beyond me. So next time you talk to a cousin or an aunt abroad, ask them to send you some products with Mexoryl. If you are willing to pay a premium (your skin is worth it!), you can also purchase these products at select independent pharmacies in the US who import them directly. Alternatively, you can get them online at e-bay or skincare websites, such as www.beautynet1.com. Enjoy the sun – ” and don’t forget to bring your hat and your favorite sunscreen.