Skin Care and Sunscreen 101

Prevention of Sun Damage 

Did you know that in Canada, more than 80,000 cases of skin cancer are diagnosed annually and that about 8000 Canadians were diagnosed with melanoma in 2020?


Question 1: How is sun exposure related to skin cancer? 

Short-term unprotected exposure to the sun can cause sunburn, an inflammatory response of the skin to UV radiation from the sun. It is preventable and self-treatable. However, the damage caused by UV radiation from the sun can also become severe if the exposure to UV radiation is chronic. One of the significant concerns of chronic radiation exposure is melanoma, and it happens to be the most common type of skin cancer. Melanoma appears to be a flat, brown or black spot with irregular edges that may increase in size if left untreated. The use of sunscreen reduces the risk of developing melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. According to the Canadian Dermatology Association, the application of sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher, with both UVA and UVB protection, is recommended. 

Question 2: What is the difference between chemical sunscreens and physical sunscreens? 

Chemical sunscreens absorb the sun’s rays and usually rub easily into the skin, whereas physical sunblocks counteract and repel the UV rays. In general, patients with sensitive skin may opt for physical sunscreens because they are less sensitizing, but these sunscreens may not be aesthetically acceptable. Although there is a growing concern over the potential absorption of chemical sunscreens, a recent study conducted by the FDA addressing this concern did not come to a conclusive result. However, a physical sunscreen may be considered as an alternative if there is hesitancy.

Question 3: When should I apply sunscreen, and how often should it be for re-application? If I am also using insect repellent, should I apply before or after sunscreen? 

Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before sun exposure and reapply at least every 2 hours. After swimming or sweating, reapply 40 or 80 minutes depending on the product’s label indication. Apply the sunscreen before putting on insect repellent.

Question 4: Is there anything else I should know about sun damage prevention? 

Between 11 am to 3 pm, UV rays are strongest, so stay indoors during this period. Besides sunscreens, wearing UPF (UV protection factor) clothing can also be considered. There is also lip balm with SPF 30 available for the lips.







I don’t care if it’s sunny, hailing golf balls, a blizzard, or a “perfect” temperature day; sunscreen is for everyone all the time. Let me tell you why. At best, you photo age; at worst, you can get skin cancer which is no joke.

Did you know that the blue light from your electronic devices can photo age you as well? Any light, for that matter, can do damage to your skin. In the past year, many beauty brands have presented customers with blue light protector sprays. Have you ever seen white shirts hanging up in clothing stores? After six months, they turn yellow from the light! Prevention trumps correction every time. Sunscreen over Fraxel and Botox. Any good doctor will reaffirm this. 

I was a patient of Dr. Jason Rivers due to hyperpigmentation. He is a renowned dermatologist and has credentials and accolades. Canadian Dermatology Association (CDA) proudly announces the appointment of Dr. Jason K. Rivers to the position of CDA President, effective June 26, 2020.

Dr. Rivers is a sought-after author and speaker who has presented nationally and internationally on various topics at key symposia and international meetings. The combination of his academic, clinical, and research achievements has culminated in over 170 publications. He is the past president of the Canadian Society for Dermatologic Surgery and was the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery for a decade.

He is currently a clinical professor of dermatology and a past director of the dermatology residency training program at the University of British Columbia. Active in the research community as lead investigator for a number of clinical trials, Dr. Rivers also practices medical and cosmetic dermatology at Pacific Derm in Vancouver, BC.

After getting several treatments of IPL and Peko, I was told before and after that for Asian skin, there is a possible chance of pigmentation bouncing back. The translation is it is always better to prevent than correct. It was recommended to me to use good products rather than another round of IPL for further correction. Note that this is coming from a clinic specializing in corrective measures, but even they will attest to the fact that there is nothing correction can do that will outlast prevention.

Take ownership of your habits, and don’t just blame genetics. There are often comments about Asian women ageing well; why? The answer is it is one part heredity, one part beauty regimen. Asian beauty is a double-edged sword. We don’t wrinkle much, but we photo age badly and very easily.

There is an extensive explanation about the difference between physical vs mineral sunscreen; regardless of your choice, please pick something and use it faithfully. The general rule is one tablespoon-size on the face. No sunscreen will last longer than two hours anyway, so get a powder version for the face if you wear cosmetics. Color Science and or Jane Iredale and many skincare brands that we carry have sunscreen included and will help with preventative measures for ageing and photoaging. Also, covering up your body if you do not wish to reapply sunscreen at peak times is imperative for your protection.

Korean women are known worldwide for their highly disciplined skincare and anti-ageing routines. It is not uncommon for Korean women to wear seven layers of skincare veils, including BB cream with sunscreen and extra sunscreen beneath and on top of this veil.

Ageing skin is heavily accounted for by the ravages of dehydration plus sun damage and hard living. Sunscreen is like having an Invisible shield or forcefield. Why not have it? Going in the sun without protection is like going to war without weapons and body armour. Just don’t do it!

Although sun protection is prominently discussed during the summer months to avoid sunburn, it is essential to protect your skin daily from harmful ultraviolet rays that can lead to premature ageing and skin cancer, as we are exposed to UV rays all year round.  

Sunscreen should be applied 15 minutes before going out in the sun and every two hours while in the sun because sweating and swimming can cause it to wear off, and the sun can degrade sunscreen, which makes it less effective.

Our pharmacies carry various sunscreen options from cruelty-free, certified organic, biodegradable to free from sulphates and fragrances. Visit to view our selection.

Miss Yang Fire 

Copywriter and Beauty Blogger

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