FYI: Sunscreen is Not Just for Summer

Sunscreen at Center | Photo by Sam Deitch

Remember the days when mom or grandma would essentially bathe you in a bottle of super white sunscreen and make you stay out of the water for 15 minutes while “it soaks in.”  Well, its the thought that counts right?  Fast-forward twenty or thirty years and we know a lot more about sun protection these days.  From ingredients and safety to effectiveness and environmental impact, we have a new understanding of what we should be doing. 

Let’s start by talking about the purpose of sunscreen.  The sun emits many different types of rays, but the most damaging are called ultraviolet (UV) rays.  There are two categories of UV rays that reach our skin, UVA and UVB.  There are about 500 times more UVA rays than UVB rays in sunlight.  UVB rays are most responsible for sun burns and skin cancer development.  UVA rays penetrate deeper and cause premature skin aging, wrinkles, brown spots, and play a smaller role in skin cancer formation.  It is important that we protect our skin from both types! 

The active ingredients in sun protective products act as either a mineral or chemical UV filters.  In the past, the most common sunscreens contained chemical filters.  Ingredients such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, octinoxate, or homosalate are considered chemical filters and they work by changing UV rays into heat, then releasing heat from the skin.  These ingredients are more efficient at blocking UVB rays, but when several are used in one product, some UVA protection is possible too.  Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide might remind you of the lifeguards in the 80s, but they knew what they were doing.  Zinc and titanium are mineral filters which work by sitting on the surface of the skin, deflecting or scattering the UV rays like a mirror.  Zinc oxide is the only single ingredient on the market that blocks all UVA and UVB rays, meaning this is the only ingredient that alone offers broad spectrum coverage.  Titanium dioxide is a close second because it blocks all UVB rays and about half of the UVA rays. 


Now for the recommendations! Below are some of our favorites. We offer the EltaMD and Alastin Products here at our location in Union Square. Send us an email ( to request a product and we'll messenger it to your Manhattan residence! 

  1. EltaMD UV Elements – This all physical, SPF 44 sunscreen is tinted with a hyaluronic acid moisturizing base.  It is safe for all even the most sensitive skin and contains 10% zinc oxide and 5.5% titanium dioxide.  It is fragrance-free, dye-free, gluten-free, oil-free, paraben-free, sensitivity-free, non-comedogenic, and water-resistance for up to 40 minutes. 
  2. Alastin HydraTine Pro – This all physical, SPF 36 sunscreen is rich in antioxidants, light weight, and contains a universal tint to enhance most skin tones.  It contains 8.9% titanium dioxide and 3.4% zinc oxide as well as 6 plant-based extracts that help to prevent against environmental pollution. 
  3. EltaMD UV Clear – This broad-spectrum, SPF 46, silky sunscreen is oil-free and safe for acne and rosacea-prone skin.  It comes in both a tinted and a non-tinted formulation and is rich in niacinamide (vitamin B3), hyaluronic acid, and lactic acid.
  4. MD Solar Science Mineral CrèmeMineral Tinted Crème, & Mineral Moisture Defense – This brand is focused on creating high quality sunscreens that are safe for both your skin and our precious coral reefs.  These three all physical, SPF 30-50 sunscreens contain 17% zinc oxide and 2% titanium dioxide along with a long list of natural ingredients for the skin including Vitamin C, Green Tea Extract, Cranberry Fruit Extract, Vitamin E, Chamomile, Grape Extract, Rose Hips, Seaweed Extract, and Pomegranate Extract.  There are also non-comedogenic, oil-free, fragrance-free, and water-resistant up to 80 minutes.  The Mineral Tinted Crème is universally tinted, while the other two are lightweight matte clear formulas. 

For any questions, please reach out to us at 212-433-3344. We're happy to offer you a complimentary skin care consultation to get your post-Summer Skin healthier than ever! 


Lauren & Team

Lauren Mitschrich PA-C Lauren is Center's Board Certified Physician Assistant and specializes in Cosmetic, Medical, and Surgical Dermatology. Her passion for all things aesthetic and "natural look" approach make her a unique perspective for our patients. She brings her love of aesthetics and dermatology to Center, practicing at the intersection of art & science with her patients - she understands the physiology of your skin, the building blocks of your beauty, and the trust you put in her to help you become the best version of you, ever.

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