How well does your sunscreen work? In fact, does it actually work at all?

I’ve been a skincare obsessive since the age of 16, when I decided to stop trying to get a real tan, and come to terms with being white.  Or should that be White? So, in a single summer I went from being the most tanned in my class, to being one of the whitest.  And I became a little obsessed with sunscreen (and vitamin D supplements).
Fast forward 34years, a medical degree, and my lifelong love of skincare is unabated.  But I also love a good device. Especially ones that aid communication in the cosmetic dermatology area! Being a busy working single parent with a job that involves educating people on cosmetic skincare, I’m often time poor, and I know that many of my patients are in a similar position. Understanding cosmetic skincare is so fundamentally important to your skin’s health though.  After all, what’s the point of all those facial laser and injectable procedures if your skin still can’t cope with your lifestyle?

So some of my favourite technologies are the photographic imaging devices that are helping doctors to demonstrate the effectiveness of sunscreen.

I recently attended the Australasian Society of Cosmetic Dermatologists conference, where I spotted a Skinscope device at the Skinceuticals stand.
We also have a Skinscope device at Skin Temple, however I’m usually too busy consulting to get to play with it.  So I thought I’d go and have my photo taken using the UV filter on the Skinscope device.  UV filters are such a great way to investigate sunscreens, and what better way to see how well you applied your sunscreen that day?  In fact, I often use my Visia device in the consulting room for this purpose too!  Unfortunately, many patients find that their trusted “sunscreen” isn’t actually doing anything at all. Sometimes this is because it hasn’t been applied evenly, or has been overly rubbed in (male patients are especially guilty of this), and sometimes it’s due to an inherent formulation problem in the product.
Trivia fact: The Visia machine was originally developed as a tool for sunscreen product research by Proctor &Gamble in the USA.

Here’s my pic on the Skinscope device:

So it’s easy to see where I’ve applied the sunscreen that day..and the areas of white skin without sunscreen.  Luckily, I seem to have covered most parts of my face pretty well (must be all that practice, since I don’t even leave the house without it on!) and have taken it fairly close to the junctions with my eyes, eyebrows and hairline. Some sunscreens look quite purple under a UV light, whereas others will look almost black. It’s always easy to see if they’re working (don’t waste your time relying on a SPF15+ product though..they can be very hit and miss in terms of their efficacy) but remember that just because it works at 8am, it rarely means that it’s still working at 3pm, and if you haven’t applied it properly in the first place then don’t be surprised if you still end up getting precancerous and eventually cancerous sun damage.

In the example above, I’m wearing La Roche Posay Uvidea SPF50+, which is a chemical sunscreen that also doubles as a light foundation, and on top of that is Skinceuticals UV Defence SPF30+ which is a zinc based mineral sunscreen. I don’t generally wear any other makeup products, other than eye makeup, just because I really prefer to have natural looking skin.
I often double up the sunscreen on weekends or if I’m going to be outside in the garden or doing something active like skiing or playing tennis.   As for the grey hairs that are highlighted in the UV light..well that’s just a little depressing although I’m trying to age slowly…perhaps it’s time for a few lowlights to hide my natural “highlights”?

Want to find out more?  Check out our website at and our facebook page or call us on 03 9867 2992 for an appointment.

Spread the love