This blog post will show you how to choose the correct sunscreen to save your skin hyperpigmentation from UVA, especially after getting a chemical or laser skincare treatment.
How to choose a sunscreen to prevent hyperpigmentation from UVA damage especially
What is UVA and how does it affect skin?
UVA are the longest ultraviolet or UV sun rays – longer than UVB. While UVB only penetrates the surface of the top most layer of the skin called the epidermis, UVA, being a much longer wavelength, penetrates the skin as far as the bottom dermal layer.
Most effects of UVA damage, such as tanning and pigmentation, only appear a few hours after exposure, unlike the immediate noticeable effects of UVB sun-burn.
Why is it a problem if UVA penetrates the skin’s dermis?
The dermis of the skin is where most age-related skin damage, such as hyperpigmentation, liver spots, age spots, wrinkles and loss of skin elasticity happens. So, when the dermal layer is bombarded by UVA rays, the skin can’t regenerate.
Why is sun protection from UVA important for getting successful results from hyperpigmentation treatments?
Here’s an example of how UVA hinders recovery from hyperpigmentation:
Hyperpigmentation happens at the deeper dermis of the skin. UVA penetrates up to this dermal skin layer. UVA also promotes an increase in melanin production at the top epidermal layer of skin. However, the same UVA rays along with other factors such as blue light, infrared heat and/or friction to the skin can actually damage melanin cells and denature melanin molecules into pigment fragments and clusters very different in structure to melanin. And with the help of UVA these pigments that make up the thing we call hyperpigmentation falls into the dermal layer and stays there, sometimes forever, unless it is treated.
Getting rid of hyperpigmentation is difficult for the body because the pigments in the dermal layer are not bio available enough to be metabolized or be transported out of the body naturally and even though our immune systems might view them as foreign particles, the pigments are too big for our immune cells to grab and carry them out through our lymphatic system as with other toxins.
So, hyperpigmentation needs to be treated through cosmetic skincare and/or medical interventions.
Some common ways to treat hyperpigmentation as well as malasma, include Moxi and BBL lasers, glycolic acid masks, vitamin c serums, azelaic acid creams, lactic acid and retinol. These treatments get rid of post inflammatory pigmentation due to scarring by speeding up cell turnover and resurfacing the skin.
However, even the best treatments for post inflammatory hyperpigmentation and malasma will be ineffective if a cycle of getting rid of pigments in the dermal layer through skin care treatments and then getting more pigments introduced into the same spot through sun exposure continues.
How do I protect my sensitive skin from UVA ray damage and hyperpigmentaion and how do I choose the best sunscreen to prevent access melanin?
Here are a few ways to protect your skin from UVA sun damage:
Stay inside, but remember that UVA gets through glass windows during the day. So, you might want to keep your curtains drawn; stay in shaded areas and/or wear sunscreen indoors.
Sunscreens with chemical ingredients with higher SPF 50 usually give more UVA protection than lower chemical spf sunscreens. However, since 95% of UVA rays reach earth, these sunscreens aren’t as effective for UVA protection as they are for UVB. So, relying on SPF alone, is not enough to know the protection factor against UVA specifically.
Reapply organic chemical sunscreen every two hours because they dissolve into heat.
some of them absorb UV light with their structures and convert it to other forms of energy, like heatExcerpt about UV deflective particles as sunscreen ingredients.
Buy sunscreens that you enjoy wearing on your skin. Sunscreens in the cabinet or bin can’t protect you. A lower spf 30 or even 15 sunscreen that you actually put on your face is more effective than the highest SPF plus sunscreen that’s hidden in a dark drawer in your house.
Wear mineral sunscreens containing zinc oxide as it is proven to prevent UVA from penetrating the skin, which could cause excess melanin production.
Use American sunscreens with Avobensone, but be warned that research has found some chemical sunscreens to absorb into the bloodstream.
Use chemical sunscreens that form a non-absorbing film on top of the skin.
Stay away from organic chemical sunscreens that create chemical reactions in the skin to speed up melanin production (sometimes in excess) to indirectly protect your skin from the sun. Some chemical sunscreens with SPF 30 or higher can make you tan. Darkened skin can make it harder to treat hyperpigmentation and can also worsen hyperpigmentation.
If you tan before undergoing any laser treatments like BBL or Moxi for you hyperpigmentation you could cause burns and hyperpigmentation.
The excess melanin on the surface of your skin will attract and intensify the laser light making the epidermal skin on the surface heat up. The melanin on the epidermis will also block the laser from penetrating deep enough into the lower dermal region where most skin problems occur.
It is better to search for sunscreens rated at least a PA++++. The PA sunscreen grading system was derived from the PPD (Persistent Pigment Darkening) method in Japan to measure protection from UVA specifically. Higher ratings mean higher UVA protection.
PPD = 2 to 4 means PA = PA+
PPD = 4 to 8 means PA = PA++
PPD = 8 to 16 means PA = PA+++
PPD = 16 or higher, PA = PA++++
Only skincare products from Japan, Australia, United Kingdom, The US and Germany have PA ratings. Unlike with Japan, the highest sunscreen ratings is PA+++ in most countries and PA++++ is rare even in Japan.
Use EU manufactured sunscreens because, by regulation, all sunscreens must have a third of the SPF be protective against UVA. So a European sunscreen manufactured in the EU with an SPF 50 will have a PPD/UVAPF of 16,6 which is the highest. European brands like La Roche-Posay claim their sunscreens have PPD/UVAPF of at least 40.
However, due to the FDA most chemical sunscreens are not approved for sale in the US but can be bought online from abroad.
I personally bought and use the Anthelios UVMUNE 400. It has no grey cast and is great on darker skin tones as well as sensitive and dry skin. It also has active ingredients like antioxidants.
Enjoy your days with sunscreen.