80% of Skin Aging is Your Fault — Here’s Why
We’ve all got our indulgences — wine, chocolate, late-nights — but everything in moderation, right? Not exactly. When it comes to the ultimate beauty vice of all: sun tanning, there are no “cheat days”. According to the FDA, a whopping 80% of skin aging is due to UV light. Think about this fact for a moment. That means only 20% of skin aging is caused by genetics and poor lifestyle habits (eating junk food, stress, etc.). So why is this good news?
By focusing on prevention, you can ward off 80% of skin-related aging… that’s a lot! We’re often taught that we need fancy laser treatments or chemical peels to stay young-looking. It’s just not true! Welcome to one of the best-kept secrets in the cosmetics industry-- the solution to skin aging is super simple. One word: SPF. It’s the most underrated but best anti-aging cream on the planet.
What science says...
SPF protects your skin from free radicals produced by UV rays. As we all know, the phrase “free radicals” gets passed around a lot. Let’s clarify what they are and how they’re related to skin aging.
“Free radicals are unstable atoms that can cause damage to cells”, reveals Medical News Daily. Since UV rays are the main creators of free radicals in skin, you can imagine what happens when your skin is exposed to sunlight: you age. UV light produces unstable oxygen molecules that steal energy from our healthy cells, causing “oxidative stress” (or in simple words, cell breakdown). Overtime, this activity ruins collagen and cellular DNA, causing premature aging.
In 2013, the Department of Applied Research and Development published a study on the effect of the sun on aging.
A group of researchers examined 298 women from 30 years to 78 years old. They were divided into two groups based on their sun exposure activity: 157 women were “sun-seeking” and the other 141 were “sun-phobic”.
By comparing the skin quality of the two groups over a 10-year period, results confirmed that the sun-seeking group showed more signs of premature aging, regardless of their age. Ultimately, the study confirmed that wrinkles, sagging, pigmentation and vascular disorders are strongly linked to ultraviolet (UV) exposure.
How to prevent sun-related aging
Wherever the sun takes you, SPF should be your 24/7 bodyguard. As Celebrity Dermatologist Dr. Jason Emer says, "the most important thing is multiple applications.” Since all people have cracks and grooves in their skin, even if their skin appears smooth, one layer of sunscreen isn’t enough.
“You still don't get a full blockage of the entire skin, because you're filling all those cracks and grooves. So you sometimes need to put on two applications before you even go outside to get true coverage,” explains Dr. Emer.
Chemical vs mineral SPF sunscreen
Not all sunscreens are equal. SPF is divided into two categories: chemical or mineral — guess which one’s better for you.
Chemical sunscreens have cheap ingredients that can irritate sensitive skin. Mineral sunscreens, on the other hand, use natural sun-block agents like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide which are more easily absorbed by the skin. Dr. Emer prefers mineral sunscreens because they tend to be gentler on the face.
"I'm not the biggest fan of chemical sunscreens. I find that they irritate people a lot,” he says. Instead, Dr. Emer prefers physical blockers like Guard Sunscreen by EMK. Hollywood celebrities love it because it’s a mineral sunscreen designed for sensitive skin. But instead of using titanium oxide like most sunscreens, it uses zinc. Why is this better?
Titanium oxide vs zinc oxide sunscreen
Titanium oxide acts as a "mirror" as its micro metallic particles reflect the sunlight. This reflective quality creates a greasy look. Then there’s problem number two: if you’re outside and try to take pictures, your skin will look shiny (and not in the soft, glowy way). For this reason, titanium-based sunscreens are a no-no for selfie-takers and people with oily or sensitive skin.
That’s why Dr. Emer is a fan of zinc-based mineral sunscreens. Other than your daily anti-wrinkle treatment, it’s truly the best face cream you can use. Remember, prevention is key.
How to look sun-kissed without sun
Who says you can’t have it all? You can still own the California girl look without exposing your skin to sunlight. We collected some classic ways to maintain your glow the safe way.
Forget matte bronzers — they dull your skin. For a bright, illuminated effect, go for bronzers with light-reflecting micro flecks. These multidimensional bits of sparkle give your skin a vibrant, healthy sheen. To achieve the desired effect, simply glide the bronzer using a Kabuki brush along your temples, nose and cheek bones (including the apples if you wish). You’ll instantly appear as if you napped at the beach, giving you some color without the consequences.
Tinted moisturizer with SPF
Celebrities love tinted moisturizer. Not only because it treats dehydrated skin, but it also deposits natural pigment to wake up your complexion. Plus, the added SPF is a bonus, giving you UV protection from wrinkles, making this product the best anti-aging cream you can find.
You get a subtle golden sheen for a realistic suntanned effect. And you don’t have to worry about it separating your makeup or wrinkle serum. Since tinted moisturizer is super lightweight, it blends effortlessly with other products.
Dr. Emer likes Glow-in Tinted Cream by EMK to hydrate the skin with natural plant extracts, while giving a healthy burst of color. It behaves as an anti-aging cream because it contains SPF 30, the minimum level of UV protection that he recommends.
Self-tanner offers the deepest and most long-lasting color. On the downside, however, self-tanner is not the safest.
As the Mayo Clinic reveals, “The active ingredient in most sunless tanning products is the color additive dihydroxyacetone (DHA). When applied, dihydroxyacetone reacts with dead cells in the skin's surface layer to temporarily darken the skin and simulate a tan.” Although the color wears off after a few days, the process may alter skin quality over time.
A recent study by a group of dermatologists in Italy suggests that self-tanning can cause free radical damage in the skin. The issue still needs more research, but it’s safe to say that tinted moisturizer and bronzer are your top picks for a sunless glow. You can use these treatments in combination with a biopeptide skincare routine. The Hollywood Glow Set is a top seller among the clientele of the 90210.
Always remember that each time you tan, you’re owing a debt to your skin. It may take a few years for the damage to show, but eventually, the cost will be visible. Don’t bargain with your beauty. If 80% of skin aging is preventable, why gamble away such great odds? Stay loyal to SPF — sometimes, the best anti-aging cream is simpler than you’d expect.