Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Little Light on Sunscreen

Now that summer is just around the corner, I am including a great summary article on sunscreen. It can be found at:

Exposure to ultraviolet light, UVA or UVB, from sunlight accounts for 90% of the symptoms of premature skin aging such as wrinkles and skin cancers. The most important skin-care product available to prevent wrinkles and skin cancer is sunscreen, but most people do not use sunscreen correctly.

Important factors to consider with sunscreen use are the spectrum of UV radiation absorbed, the amount of sunscreen applied, and the frequency of application.

UV Radiation
The sun gives off ultraviolet (UV) radiation that we divide into categories based on the wavelength. UVC radiation is absorbed by the atmosphere and does not cause skin damage. UVB radiation affects the outer layer of skin, the epidermis, and is the primary agent responsible for sunburns. UVB does not penetrate glass, and the intensity of UVB radiation depends on the time of day and the season. UVA radiation penetrates deeper into the skin and works more efficiently. The intensity of UVA radiation is more constant than UVB without the variations during the day and throughout the year. UVA is also not filtered by glass.

Sunscreen Ingredients
Sunscreens ingredients can be divided into compounds that physically block radiation or compounds that absorb radiation. The radiation blockers are very effective at reducing the exposure of the skin to both UVA and UVB radiation. Older formulations like zinc oxide are opaque and may be cosmetically unacceptable. However, a newer formulation of micronized titanium dioxide is not as opaque and provides excellent protection. The radiation absorbing ingredients are differentiated by the type of radiation they absorb - UVA absorbers and UVB absorbers.

Picking the Proper Sunscreen
The SPF measures the amount of UVB absorption, but there is no method of reporting the UVA absorption. The only way to determine if a sunscreen protects against UVA and UVB radiation is to look at the ingredients. A good broad-spectrum sunscreen should have an SPF of at least 15 and contain avobenzone, titanium dioxide, or zinc oxide.

Applying Sunscreen Properly
Most people use sunscreen improperly by not applying enough. They apply only 25% to 50% of the recommended amount. Sunscreen should be applied liberally enough to all sun-exposed areas that it forms a film when initially applied. It takes 20-30 minutes for sunscreen to be absorbed by the skin, so it should be applied at least a half an hour before going out in the sun. Sunscreen should also be the last product applied especially on the face since some sunscreens can break down in the presence of water contained in water-based foundations and moisturizers.

Reapplying Sunscreen
Most instructions on sunscreen labels recommend reapplying sunscreen "frequently", but the definition of "frequently" is vague. A common instruction is to reapply sunscreen after 2-4 hours in the sun. However, one study has shown that reapplying sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes after being in the sun is more effective than waiting 2 hours. It is possible that this time period is more effective because most people do not apply enough sunscreen initially, and this second application approximates the actual amount needed. Sunscreen should also be reapplied after swimming, excessive sweating, or toweling.

Daily Sunscreen
Sunscreen should be applied daily. The daily use of a low-SPF sunscreen (15) has been shown to be more effective in preventing skin damage than the intermittent use of a higher SPF sunscreen.

Sunscreen and Insect Repellents
Insect repellents reduce the sunscreen's SPF by up to one-third. When using sunscreen and insect repellent together, a higher SPF should be used and reapplied more often.

Dr. Steven Hodgkin MD
Aesthetic Skin & Laser Medical Center
For questions, email me at

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

10 Steps to Healthier Skin

That skin changes with age is one of life's universal laments. The most common manifestation of these changes is dry skin. Drying skin emphasizes wrinkles and contributes to flaking, cracking, and itching. Although dry skin is a natural consequence of aging, it can usually be controlled with simple, easy-to-follow measures that help keep skin moist and young-looking.

What Causes Dry Skin?
Secretions from oil and sweat glands decrease as you age. These secretions originate in the dermis (the innermost layer of skin) and reach the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin) through pores leading to the surface. Once the secretions emerge, the oil traps sweat (which is primarily composed of water) just under the exposed surface of the epidermis. As a result, the skin retains moisture and remains well hydrated. Oil and water secretions are abundant during the teen years and early adult life, but over time these secretions lessen and the skin gradually dries out.

Other factors that contribute to the problem include thinning of the skin with aging, as well as loss of the fat and supporting connective tissue. Cold weather, dry air, bathing too frequently, using harsh skin-care products, and allergic reactions can also be factors.

Keeping your skin well hydrated will improve its appearance and keep it healthy. The following suggestions are effective, inexpensive, and easy to implement.

1. Avoid direct sunlight.

In addition to causing dryness, sun exposure is the leading cause of skin cancer. It is best to minimize sun exposure, especially during the peak sun hours of 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., when the sun's rays are the most intense. A wide-brim hat is a useful tool to block direct sunlight exposure.

2. Use sunscreen daily.
Routine use of a sunscreen prevents the damaging effects of the sun and minimizes its drying effects. For regular, everyday use, an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 is most likely adequate. Higher SPFs of 30 to 45 are recommended for high sun exposure activities such as skiing or travel to the beach.

3. Bathe only once daily.
Bathing more frequently can worsen the skin's dryness by stripping away the natural protective oils of the skin. Although bathing more than once a day may seem to relieve itching at first, it is counterproductive in the long run. Hot water should also be avoided in an effort to minimize drying of the skin.

4. Use bath oil cautiously.
Although bath oil is an effective moisturizer, adding it to bathwater is dangerous because it makes the tub slippery. Also, the residue may be difficult to clean from the tub. If you do use bath oil, add it to the water after you've been soaking for 15 minutes; otherwise the oil coats your body and prevents water from penetrating your skin. A safer use of bath oils is to smooth it on the skin after you get out of the tub.

5. Use mild soaps.
Mild soaps such as Dove, Lever 2000, or Camay are less drying. Soaps such as Ivory, Zest, Irish Spring, or Dial are more drying and should be avoided if dry skin is a problem.

6. Pat yourself dry.
Vigorous rubbing disrupts the smooth skin surface. Gentle patting is much less irritating and will decrease drying, flaking, and cracking of the skin.

7. Use a humidifier.
Low humidity will dry the skin. If the air in your home is dry, a humidifier can raise humidity and slow dehydration of the skin.

8. Don't overheat your home.
Overheating lowers your home's humidity. The lower the humidity, the faster the skin will lose water.

9. Moisturize.
You should moisturize at least once daily, whether you bathe or not. The best time to moisturize is immediately after bathing, because that's when the moisturizer can trap the water into the skin. Many over-the-counter products such as Moisturel, Purpose, or Vaseline Intensive Care are available.

10. See a dermatologist.
The dermatologist has the final key to youthful skin. Alpha hydroxy acids and Retin-A creams have been shown to reverse the signs of aging and return a more youthful appearance to the skin. Laser therapy, which can remove liver warts, age spots, spider veins, broken blood vessels, red blotches, or birthmarks, can also remove years from your appearance.

You should have your dermatologist evaluate persistent dryness, itching, eczema, blisters, or sores. These may be an indication of a more serious medical condition, such as cancer, liver disease, kidney disease, diabetes, thyroid disease, lupus, or anemia.

The dermatologist also has a variety of prescription treatments that can benefit dry, itchy skin.

Following these steps will contribute to youthful, healthy skin. Even though aging is inevitable, these measures will help to slow the age-associated changes of the skin.

It is never too late to start treating your skin with care, and it is possible to regain a more youthful appearance.

Dr. Steven Hodgkin MD
Aesthetic Skin & Laser Medical Center
For questions, email me at

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Friday, April 3, 2009

Know Your Skin Type

Knowing your skin type is often the first step to developing great skin. If you're curious, the article in the following link is a great summary. It briefly discusses the five basic skin types. Once you know your skin, it's much easier to keep it healthy and looking great.

Dr. Steven Hodgkin MD
Aesthetic Skin & Laser Medical Center
For questions, email me at

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Exfoliate Your Skin!

Exfoliation is the step most people skip in their weekly skincare routine, but it is one of the most important. Such a simple thing, but it can immediately start to reveal younger, healthier looking skin! There are several ways to exfoliate your skin. The main ones are microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and retinoids.

Microdermabrasion works by removing the dead skin cells on the surface. These dead cells tend to dull our complexion. By exfoliating your skin once a week, your skin will be much healthier and look more radiant. In addition to the professional quality treaments that we offer, you can also find basic kits at select beauty product stores.

Chemical peels are great ways to quickly make your skin look younger. Treaments tend to take less than an hour and can reveal skin that looks smoother and healthier.

Retinoids (such as Retin-A) also focus on removing the the dead cells on the top layer of your skin. They also focus on regenerating collagen in the skin, which helps provide support and structure.

For more information on these treatments and others, our resources at are very helpful, and our skin care staff can also answer your questions!

Dr. Steven Hodgkin MD
Aesthetic Skin & Laser Medical Center
For questions, email me at

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Inaccurate Newsweek Article about Botox

A somewhat recent Newsweek article, from the issue dated April 21, 2008, about the dangers of Botox has received a lot of attention lately, unfortunately the inaccuracies present are more like those to be expected from a magazine like The National Enquirer. Here's a quick rundown of their misreporting:
  1. The study didn't actually use Botox. It used a laboratory-made research grade botulinum toxin A, rather than Botox or any other botulinum toxin A currently approved worldwide for human use.
  2. The study was in rats, not humans. Botox was approved for human use by the FDA over 19 years ago. Many studies have been done since then showing that is safe.
  3. The doses used were 150x more per body weight than Botox. Yes, 150 times greater. Furthermore, it was injected into a single site whereas Botox is typically injected at several sites within the area to be treated.
  4. An indirect, unproven testing method was used. The study did not actually measure botulinum toxin levels in the brains of the rats, but rather a protein they believe results from the process.
  5. The authors paid for publication of the study. The Journal of Neuroscience states, "Accepted manuscripts will not move into the production process until payment has been received." As of the publication of this article, there does not seem to be any information regarding journals to which the study may have been submitted prior to it being accepted by Journal of Neuroscience.
Now it may seem like I am trying to defend Botox because it is one of the treatments provided at our center. I can assure you this is not the case. Why? Several reasons. First, the moral and legal implications of providing a potentially unsafe treatment are entirely too severe. Second, we have many other methods of skin rejuvenation available, such as filler injections like Juvederm and Restylane, Sculptra, laser surgery, microdermabrasion, and chemical peels. We simply do not have a stake in the success of Botox and no reason to defend a potentially unsafe product. Third, unlike cigarette industry executives, many of the cosmetic surgeons who treat their patients with Botox have had the treatment themselves, and have treated their family members with it as well.

Hope this helps clear up any confusion or concern this article has created. As always, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask them in the comment area

Dr. Steven Hodgkin MD
Aesthetic Skin & Laser Medical Center
For questions, email me at

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Friday, March 27, 2009

The Secrets to Great Skin

For thousands of years people have chased after many 'secrets' in the pursuit of beauty. In the last 50 years we have learned so much about how our bodies 'age' and especially the factors that affect the health of our skin. For example, our exposure to the sun has the greatest impact on the condition of our skin. Though many people still think of the sun giving us a 'healthy tan', that tanning effect is actually a direct response of the skin being damaged by harmful UV rays.

The single greatest way to improve your skin, look young and reduce wrinkles is to protect yourself from the sun. That doesn't mean you have to look pale either! There are now many great self-tanning products on the market that create the genuine appearance of a tan with none of the damage. Though our office is highly-trained in treating skin cancer and other serious problems that can result from sun damage, I would much rather see you enjoy life with naturally healthy and radiant skin!

Through this blog I will expand on this topic and many others, so please feel welcome to visit often and ask questions.

Dr. Steven Hodgkin MD
Aesthetic Skin & Laser Medical Center
For questions, email me at

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