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Half of U.S. adults under 30 say that they have had sunburn at least once in the previous year. UV rays are the principle cause for the overproduction of free-radicals, which oxidize or damage skin at the cellular level by diminishing our body's store of antioxidants. When metal oxidizes, we call it rust--when skin oxidizes, we call it aging.

There are so many varieties of sunscreens that it sometimes seems as if we are following a confusing maze. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has partnered with dermatologists to simplify all of the SPF numbers, terms, and ingredients used in labeling. Gone are the words sunblock--now sunscreen, water proof--now water resistant, and if a sunscreen is labeled broad spectrum, it must filter both UVA/UVB rays. Gone too, are the misleading SPF values, where it was assumed that higher was better. Maximum sunscreen protection is now achievable in a more realistic range of SPF 30-to-SPF 50. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, SPF 30 is 97% effective and SPF 50 is 98% effective.

What is Ultra Violet B or UVB radiation? Think of it as the rays that burn and that cause redness, pain and damage the skin's surface or epidermis. It can be a factor in skin cancers.

What is Ultra Violet A or UVA radiation? Think penetration deep into the skin where blood vessels and connective tissue reside. UVA rays are present year-round, pass through windows and clouds, and are responsible for 95% of the radiation that reaches the skin. These rays not only suppress the immune system, but account for up to 80% of the skin's aging process. UVA rays also contribute to skin cancer, wrinkles, loss of elasticity, and sun spots.

What do you need in a sunscreen? At a minimum, the first line of defense is a UVA/UVB broad-spectrum product that will both "reflect and deflect" rays. The second line of defense is a sunscreen supplemented with antioxidants, which specifically intensify protection from UVA rays, moisturize and shield against cell damage. R|Essentials contains only the highest-grade antioxidants.

It takes 15 minutes for most sunscreens to become effective. Don’t leave sunscreen in a car – heat degrades and shortens shelf-life. Replace old sunscreen after three years. Snow reflects 80% of the sun’s rays. Medications can be sensitive to heat and light: some antibiotics/chemo drugs, retinoids and NSAIDs – all may cause rash or easier sunburn. Don’t forget to use UVA/UVB-protected sunglasses. Be vigilant and reapply and lather all exposed body parts.