We are often asked if we offer our skin care with sunscreens. We don’t, however the idea of formulating Niora products with sunscreens is an issue we have dedicated a lot of energy to. After all, good sun protection is one of the most significant ways you can inhibit premature aging and preserve the skin’s health. The problem is that there are significant trade-off’s in formulating sunscreens into anti-aging skin care, especially anti-aging skin care as effective and as good as Niora.
To begin with sunscreens, to be effective, must completely cover the skin, creating a uniform chemical coating or barrier that sits on the surface of the skin and that absorbs, scatters or reflects nearly all UVA and UVB radiation. An effective anti-aging skin care needs to do just the opposite, it needs to deeply and quickly penetrate the skin, drawing in nutrients, emollients and humectants, moisturizing but allowing the skin to breathe and absorb moisture.
Consumer testing indicates that about half the time people improperly apply sunscreens and do not receive the SPF protection indicated on the sunscreen label. Either not enough is applied or people fail to adequately rub the sunscreen completely over the surface of the skin. Thus it is critical when formulating sunscreens to not only create a solution or lotion that completely dissolves sunscreen chemicals, but will also readily disperse the sunscreens and form a uniform coating on the skin’s surface without easily washing off or absorbing into the skin. This is a difficult formulation goal: Sunscreen products, especially those with SPF numbers of 15 or higher, are often 20% to 30% by volume of the sunscreen substances themselves, and another 25%-to 50% of of the product are agents used to dissolve them and facilitate dispersal on the skin. It is for this reason that sunscreen lotions or creams with high SPF ratings have a different ‘feel’ than lotions, creams or moisturizers without sunscreens. It is simply that a large percentage of the product consists of ingredients with no anti-aging benefits.
Sunscreens are of course routinely added to anti-aging skin care, but the results are not optimal sun protection and compromise on anti-aging. The first compromise usually made when creating an SPF anti-aging skin care is to use less sunscreen. This is why you rarely see any anti-aging skin care with an SPF greater than 15. However even at SPF 15 a significant amount of the product is still chemical sunscreen that still needs to dissolve in a medium that will spread well and coat the skin. The skin care ingredients that do this are not particular effective anti-aging agents. The typical result is that 50% or more of such a product is not going to provide anti-aging benefits to the skin. Worse, many of the best anti-aging cosmeceuticals and emollients actually interfere with the ability of the sunscreens to provide SPF protection and thus cannot be used at all.
We believe the best solution, although not the most convenient, is use anti-aging skin care and sunscreens as separate products. For example with Niora skin care we recommend using Niora as usual and then apply a sunscreen on top. This is an extra step, but this way you will be using moisturizing anti-aging skin care formulated without compromise, and you can use a higher SPF number sunscreen. We suggest using a spray or liquid sunscreen that contains as little moisturizer as possible, as often lotion or cream based sunscreens are sticky, and can be prone to irritate the skin. Note that the SPF rating only applies to UVB radiation, and that UVA radiation is a major culprit in photoaging of the skin. Look for a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB radiation, ideally one that includes zinc oxide, which provides UVB and some UVA protection and is considered safer than many synthetic sunscreens.