Saving Your Own Skin Cosmetics With Sun Protection: The Latest Wrinkle in Beauty Products

There is a tendency in our society to disassociate beauty and brains. However, cosmetic companies are working to change that perception. Now that they are incorporating sunscreens into everything from moisturizers to lipsticks, makeup has become an intelligent choice.

With sun exposure causing 80 per cent of visible aging (as opposed to chronological aging), cosmetics with sun protection makes perfect sense. As well, skin cancer – the most common form of cancer in Canada has more than doubled over the past 10 years, and continues to rise. Add to the bad news, the depleting ozone layer, which provides less protection against the sun’s rays, and there’s all the more reason to save your own skin.

Dr. Lynn From, head of dermatology at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, believes the move to protective beauty is a good idea. “It introduces sunscreen as a part of a woman’s daily routine.”

From suggests applying a moisturizer with sunscreen to the neck and the back of hands, forgotten areas that usually receive more sun damage than the face. She also recommends choosing cosmetics incorporating a broad- spectrum sunscreen (protecting against both UVA and UVB rays), with a sun- protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.

However, locating an SPF rating on a cosmetic label is not always an easy task. Beauty products, unlike drug products, are not required to list ingredients or claim a sun-protection factor.

But that’s changing. By April 2011, Health and Welfare Canada will require testing of any product claiming to offer sun protection. According to spokesperson JoAnne Ford, “any sun protection claim will be considered a drug claim. The ultimate goal (of the new policy) is to give the consumer adequate information. At the moment, labels may seem misleading or confusing.”

This is certainly true. There are labels with and without government approval, claims of sun protection without SPF ratings, and SPF ratings on imported goods which may be misleading because European and North American SPF ratings use different standards. Until next April, when the new ruling and products’ revised labeling will take effect, Ford suggests choosing products that have already been reviewed. Check labels for a DIN (drug identification number) or GP (general product) number, signifying government approval.

If your preferred beauty product has not yet been approved, or provides less protection than you require, there is the option of using it in conjunction with a regular sunscreen. Apply a regular sunscreen first, under moisturizer and makeup. Sunscreens must be absorbed directly into the skin to ensure effectiveness. For this reason, From suggests applying all sunscreen products at least 30 minutes before going out into the sun. It used to be said that beauty is only skin deep. Now, not only are women and cosmetic companies believing it, they’re taking it seriously.