The Confusing Story of Sunscreen and Sunblocks

star of sunscreen on ladies back

Summer has arrived and besides sweating more than we want to, we have to worry about getting sunburned while we are trying to enjoy the sun and summer. Sun exposure plays an important role in our overall health as well as the health of our skin. For one thing, it is important in the production of natural source vitamin D, and experts feel this is the best form of Vit D available; however, the current trend is to supplement with pills and rely on vitamin D in the diet as it can be difficult to know if you are really meeting your required dose of Vit D each and every day. For many of us, the question on our minds is: “To sun or not to sun?” Certainly exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun is something of a double-edged sword.

The skin is the largest organ in the body, acting as a shield against the external environment and also controlling the absorption of external substances into the body and subsequently into the blood stream. Most popular sunscreens recommended by physicians who don’t provide the exceptional products that Laser and Skin Care Medspa, Red Deer’s Med Spa offers, contain high concentrations of questionable chemicals.

Two types of sunscreens/blocks are available: chemical blockers, and physical barrier types (recognized as the healthier, safer choice). At Laser and Skin Care Medspa we carry a variety of physical barrier sunscreens/blocks for all skin types.

With so many products available and new products being introduced in to the market, it is easy to get confused when considering which sunscreen is best for you. To help you make healthier decisions for your skin, the Environmental Working Group recently tested 800 commercially available sunscreens/blocks. A dismal proportion, just 25%, of these products provided effective protection for the skin without including a heavy dose of potentially harmful ingredients. According to the groups recommendations, a safe sunscreen:

  1. ls free of oxybenzone
  2. Is free of retinal palmitate (a vitamin A derivative)
  3. Provides a maximum of SPF 50
  4. Protects against UVA and UVB.

It is clear that the safer sunscreens are those that include zinc and/or titanium oxide to provide a physical barrier for UV rays.

Choosing the right sunscreen can feel like a guessing game but we offer some tips below to help you make an informed choice when it comes to protecting your skin.

Firstly, sunscreens with an SPF of just 8 or 15 are no longer considered acceptable. The depletion of the ozone layer over the last few decades means that experts now recognize that a minimum of SPF 30 is needed in a sunscreen (although any higher than SPF 50 is unnecessary). It is also important to realize that the SPF number refers only to UVB protection, so make sure you choose a product that is labeled as providing broad spectrum coverage for both UVA and UVB. Unfortunately, a high SPF does not mean that you can simply get away with applying less of the product. Indeed, most people tend not to use enough of the product for it to be effective: a minimum of one teaspoon is required for full face and neck protection, with up to two ounces of the sunscreen required to cover the rest of the body in most cases.

Second, it is also essential to realize that certain medications can make your skin more sensitive to the sun and if your skin care program contains Retinal, or if you recently underwent microdermabrasion or a chemical peel, make sure to use a higher SPF formula such as factor 40 or 50 to protect the skin and reduce the risk of pigmentation problems arising.

Chemical vs. Physical Sunscreens

Some sunscreens contain chemicals such as oxybenzone, avobenzone and octinozate that absorb UV radiation, while others (referred to as physical barrier or mineral sunblocks) include zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide to reflect most of the UV radiation and prevent its absorption. These two mineral ingredients are insoluble and sit on the skin to form a physical barrier.

It soon becomes quite clear which of these two options is the better for your skin as those chemicals that actually absorb the UV radiation break down much faster than the physical barrier sunscreen ingredients. In addition, there is a delay between the application of a chemical sunscreen and the time when it is actually able to start protecting the skin. This is because it can take some 20 to 30 minutes before the chemicals are properly absorbed by the skin and are able to then absorb and neutralize the radiation from the sun. Physical sunblocks, in contrast, are immediately able to block the absorption of

the UV rays as the zinc oxide and/or titanium oxide work by sitting on the top of the skin and do not require time to be absorbed before becoming effective.

UVA and UVB: What Do They Mean?

The idea of sun protection is to shield the skin from short term and long term damage caused by the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. In certain areas of the world this radiation has become very strong as the depletion of the ozone layer has created extensive holes through which more ultraviolet rays can reach the Earth. There are approximately 20 times more ultraviolet-A (UVA) rays than ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays in the atmosphere at any one time. UVA rays are arguably more sinister as they can penetrate glass and are present no matter what the weather conditions. UVB rays, which people are more familiar with, are the cause of sunburn and are more prevalent during summer months, are stronger at higher altitudes, and are particularly problematic in areas of high reflection such as on snow or water (skiers beware). The combination of these dangerous factors is responsible in part for the irreversible skin damage that leads to premature ageing and various forms of skin cancer

Common Myths

Q: Sunblocks and sunscreens are essentially all the same – only the bottles are different.

Answer: There is huge variation in sunscreens/blocks in regards to UV protection, ingredients, and resistance to sweat and water. Look for sunscreens labeled broad spectrum against UVA and UVB and which indicate whether they provide mild, moderate or are highly water resistant. It is not necessary to buy a sunblock beyond SPF 50 as there are no further benefits for the skin beyond this level. The most recognized physical barrier sunblocks are zinc oxide followed by titanium oxide.

Q: Some sunscreens have been linked to cancer development

Answer: A chemical called oxybenzone, which is frequently found in commercial sunscreens, has been the subject of recent investigations due to concerns over a possible increase in the risk of cancer development with its use. However, the present data, courtesy of the Canadian Cancer Society, currently shows no evidence to support a causal link. What we do know is that protecting your skin from the strongest sun rays or entirely avoiding exposure at these times is the best defense against skin cancer. As mentioned earlier, the other concerns about chemicals sunscreens do suggest that it is better to switch to a formula providing a physical blocker such as: Total Defense and Repair SPF 50 with water resistance from Skin Medica and Zo Medical Sunscreen & Primer SPF 30. (stocked by Laser and Skin Care Medspa).

Q: The body needs sunlight for vitamin D

Answer: There is a lot of confusion surrounding the blocking by sunscreens of essential vitamin D absorption. Many experts agree that the amount of sun exposure needed to get the required daily dose of vitamin D is minimal and that most people (depending on their latitude and the time of year) are able to obtain this with just 15 to 20 minutes of sunlight exposure a day. This is considered sufficient except in cases where existing health problems may affect the use or synthesis of vitamin D in the body. Furthermore, over the last 30 years or so there have been significant increases in the fortification of foods with vitamin D (including dairy products) as well as the availability of soluble vitamin D supplements, providing some reassurance for those concerned about levels of intake.

Q: Sunscreens are only needed in the summer months

Answer: This is definitely a misconception; any time that you are exposed to sunlight, even inside your house or driving in your car, your skin is being exposed to harmful rays. Overcast weather and rainy days don’t protect you from UV rays as they still pass through clouds, just with a little less intensity. At Laser and Skin Care Medspa in Red Deer we provide a variety of sunscreens/blocks for all types of lifestyles, such as Total Defense and Repair SPF 50 with water resistance from Skin Medica and Zo Medical Sunscreen & Primer SPF 30.

Q: Light-skinned people are the ones that really need sunscreens or blocks

Answer: This idea is definitely wrong! Even the darkest of skins can burn, resulting in permanent adverse effects including hyperpigmentation and cystic changes in the skin. It is true that those individuals with olive tone or darker skin are less likely to burn but, unfortunately, they are still vulnerable to sun damage and sun-induced aging. For those with such skin types, the effects of photo­ aging can be seen as darker blotches and increased pigmentation. There is no such thing as a healthy tan: A tan is an indication of a skin reaction to excessive sunlight with the spectrum of damage seen as full-blown sunburn that goes from pink to red to blistering and resulting in the three degree phenomena of skin sloughing off.

Q: Sunscreens make my skin greasy and/or give me more acne

Answer: The greasiness of sunscreens has been a thorn in the side of the sunblock industry since such products first appeared. Throughout the decades many of the products’ formulations have improved but most of the over the counter commercial products (because they use chemical barriers) just cannot get away from that gooey feeling that people complain about. Unfortunately, for those with sensitive skin, acne, rosacea or psoriasis this is particularly problematic.

Fortunately, however, there are oil-free sunscreens and healthier options -the key is to know where to find them. Laser and Skin Care Medspa specializes in providing only therapeutic medical grade products that provide the necessary skin protection without the negative effects of greasiness and bacterial build-up in the skin

There is so much more to say about the science and marketing of sunscreens and sunblocks but I hope that this information answers the most “burning” questions you have and helps you to make a more informed choice when it comes to protecting your skin.

If you have any questions on this topic then PLEASE ASK US either by leaving a comment below or by contacting the Medical Spa directly at 403-347-8050. We are more than happy to help you figure out what is best for you to protect your skin from sun damage and preserve the health of your skin.

PRP – Platelet Rich Plasma

What is A-PRP?

Platelet rich plasma which is commonly referred to as PRP is human blood that is spun down and separated producing a concentration of platelets. Platelets are the clotting cells of our blood but they also have great potential in enhancing healing of muscle, tendon and ligaments. It is a non-operative treatment option that relieves pain by naturally promoting long lasting healing of musculoskeletal conditions. It has been used in orthopedics in the treatment of professional athlete’s primarily and highly functional individuals for many years. It gained popularity in athletic injuries enabling people to return back to regular activities and competition with minimal to no pain at all. It spread into other more generalized use in the population and is a very effective technique for treating arthritis, tendonitis, ligament sprains and tears. PRP therapy presents patients with a long lasting, permanent solution through the body’s natural healing process.


The blood sample is collected from the patient and is given back to the patient and is referred to as autologous collection. For simplicity of language the “autologous” is dropped and the process is referred to as PRP.

The Science Of PRP

Our blood is made up of 93% red blood cells, 6% white blood cells and 1% platelets and plasma. These platelets are critical to our survival as they are best known for their function of blood clotting, to stop bleeding. Platelets also have a critical component in injury healing. They are rich in connective tissue growth and healing factors. The body’s first response to tissue injury is to deliver platelets to the area. These platelets initiate repair and attract stem cells to the injury. By injecting growth factors into damaged tissue it stimulates the natural repair process. To maximize the healing process the platelets have to be concentrated and separated from the red blood cells. This is done by centrifuging the blood and separating the plasma and platelets from the red blood cells. The PRP accelerates the body’s natural healing process when re-injected into joints and tissue.


The use of PRP has expanded into other areas of body repair. It is used in facial aging reversal, hair regrowth, and sexual dysfunctions in males and females as well as bladder control difficulties.


How Is PRP Created?

The creation of platelet rich plasma is simple, painless and can be done in a doctor’s office. The doctor or nurse assistant will draw an appropriate blood sample exactly like a routine blood test. Once the blood is drawn it is spun in a centrifuge at high speeds to separate the blood into red cells and concentrated platelets. Once the blood is seperated these red blood cells are discarded and we are left with concentrated plasma rich protein which is ready to be used in the treatment process. On an average only 3-5 mls of plasma will be captured from one tube of blood. However a little goes a long ways and the usual amount of blood drawn is only one to two 5ml vials. This equates a maximum of 2 teaspoons in total of whole blood.


Are PRP Injections Painful?

Generally speaking PRP injections are not painful however the discomfort level depends on the part of the body being treated as well as the pain tolerance of the patient. Physicians are able to use an injector gun that precisely places the plasma at a therapeutic depth. The plasma can be also mixed with local anesthetic as well as vitamins, minerals and amino proteins that all share in skin regeneration. With the sophistication of the injection techniques over the last decade most people will experience only minimal discomfort.


Plasma Rich Protein For Wrinkles And Skin Folds

A-PRP can be injected into wrinkles but it is different from synthetic volume as the concept is not to fill the wrinkles but to stimulate the fibroblasts which produce new collagens and all the components of the extra cellular matrix. Those most commonly known are elastin, hyaluronic acids, glycoproteins and other fibroblast stimulants that all share the responsibility of skin regeneration. PRP can be injected into deep wrinkles and folds at the same time a patient is attending for volume replacement of the face, hands, neck, décolleté, allowing for an accelerated synergistic effect on the tissue area. These release growth factors over time at the precise area and will create permanent change while the natural filler creates a more pleasing aesthetic affect for the duration until the PRP effect starts to take over.


Fine Wrinkles, Skin And Hair

Injections either with single needles or multi-injector units place platelet rich plasma into the dermis support structure and accelerates and increases the tissue regeneration process. PRP can be injected locally into the face, forehead, neck, décolleté as well as the hands and the scalp.


Post Laser And Hydration

A-PRP stimulates the patients cells to regenerate the skins connective tissue resulting in faster healing of post laser and chemical peel procedures. It improves the elasticity, tone and thickness of the skin and contributes to remodeling collagen fibers. It helps reduce pain in the skin and allows the skin to feel cool and fresh. The risk with certain lasers with hyperpigmentation can be significant and the use of PRP reduces the inflammatory pigmentation reaction particularly after C0₂ lasers. In the situation of using it in conjunction with lasers, the plasma is applied directly and generously to the treatment area.

Acne Scars And Keloid Scars

There have been excellent results with the use of A-PRP into the periphery and scar matrix, by using superficial controlled injection depths as well as deep injections into the living dermis layer. Injecting into scars can be quite sensitive and this can be controlled by putting local anesthetic into the plasma. PRP can be used along with fractional lasers. These were designed in the early 2000’s for rebuilding tissue by microscopic mechanical destruction of cell columns stimulating the natural healing mechanisms in a different way than PRP, but again achieving permanent results. Scars are treated monthly until there has been complete replacement by healthy tissue.

Stretch marks and darkened stretch marks have been a particularly difficult scar phenomenon to improve. Fractional lasers also do a respectable job on stretch mark recovery. With the current use of PRP in the scar regeneration process as well, the results are remarkable.


How Long Does PRP Last?

This can be considered a permanent fix. PRP was first used in the 1980’s in cardiac surgery followed in the late ‘90’s in bone reconstruction. Subsequently it moved into treating musculoskeletal injuries particularly of high performance athletes such as Tiger Woods (golfing), Kobe Bryant (basketball) and Hines Wood (football), Rafael Nadal (tennis), Alex Rodriguez (baseball), Maria Sharapova (tennis), as well as many celebrities. It remained an extremely expensive procedure until more common usage and standardization of the materials required, for providing the procedure, became more generally available. The components in PRP begin to work immediately and tissue regeneration continues over weeks to months. The Vampire Facelift® is a patented procedure trademarked by an Alabama doctor, Charles Runels. He subsequently developed the Vampire Facial® as well as the protocols for hair restoration and treatments for sexual dysfunction for males and females (the “O” shot and the “P” shot). The Vampire Facelift® is a combination of PRP, filler and micro-needling. The Vampire Facial® is a combination of micro-needling and PRP.



PRP treatments alone or in combination with lasers and volume replacement have taken reversing the effects of aging to a permanent level that as applications for many areas of the body and is within the financial reach of the general population. By increasing the numbers of collagen fibres in skin there is an overall improvement in texture and elasticity, reversing sagging, crinkled skin. In hair loss management, PRP decreases hair loss to a normal level and increases the volume of the hair shaft, stimulates hairs to regenerate and increases the strength of the hair follicle.


Laser and Skin Care Medspa is looking forward to offering this treatment in the near future. Please call 403 347 8050 for more information.


Those with this face rash condition will often will be asked if there are unwell, hot or blushing, No single cause for Rosacea has been identified but recent researched has suggested a number of potential triggers for this skin condition. Without knowing what causes Rosacea specifically it can be difficult to treat. This often leads to undo stress and depression in those who worry about their appearance which will often make the condition worse. Luckily many of the possible causes and factors involved that aggravate Rosacea are responsive to treatment. With some medical assistance the patient can dramatically reduce the impact the skin disorder by identifying the Rosacea triggers and having treatment prescribed accordingly, It affects approximately 3% of the population of European decent, women 3 times more than men and the peak of on set is between 30 and 60 years old. It will initially start as redness to primarily to the centre part of the face although it can involve the eyelids, forehead and scalp. As mentioned, there often will be no identifiable single cause but there are many lifestyle, diet and environmental factors, that are linked to aggravating skin conditions. Also a skin mite called Demodex, that hangs out in hair follicles and skin cells has been found in higher numbers in those suffering from Rosacea.

Before and After 3 treatments

There are four main sub types and variants of these. Often one sub type will exist along with another. The trend is for the gradual change from redness to developed broken vessels with acne-like bumps and pustules in the area and often accompanied with dry, gritty, red eyes and eyelids. In the more advanced stages the skin becomes very red, thickened, with irregular surface and nodular changes, creating distortion of the tissue in particular the nose (Rhinophyma). Fortunately most seek help before this advanced stage has a chance to develop.


Any factors that cause episodes of flushing or blushing play a role in the development of Rosacea. There does not appear to be a genetic marker. The primary factors are as follows:

  • Chronic and excessive sun exposure (>75%)
  • Emotion stress (>75%)
  • Heat
  • Wind
  • Excessive exercise
  • Alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods, high histamine foods (Red wine, aged cheese and cured meats)

Less intense factors

  • Skin care products
  • Cosmetics
  • Medications

In other words a huge spectrum of possibilities! Topical irritant procedures such as chemical peels, microdermabrasion, acne and wrinkle treatments, and topical uses that have Vitamin A, Benzyl Peroxide and Steroid based nasal sprays, and topical creams for other conditions such as Seborrhea Dermatitis, are all known potential triggers.

Unfortunately elimination or avoiding these triggers will not reverse or have any significant impact on the actual process of the diseased once established.


There has been some support with scientific studies to suggest that those with GI problems (i.e. stomach infections with heliobacter) peptic ulcer disease and Rosacea have a common denominator. As the GI conditions are treated with anti-biotic and mucous anti-inflammatory products, the rosacea improves.

Also as far back as late 1990 a class of skin mites “Demodex “was found in large numbers particularly with men suffering from rosacea. It is believed it is the several strains of bacteria from the feces of these mites which triggers an auto immune response prompting an inflammatory infective reaction from the infested skin cells and hair follicles.

The individual’s reactions to their mites are dependent on their general health and defense mechanisms of the skin, environmental l factors and the overall health of the auto immune system.

These bacteria carrying mites have also been associated with types of eczema and an auto immune disease called Lupus.


It makes sense that with a skin disease that is multi factorial including so many potential triggers as well as bacteria from Demodex mites that any hope for control for a “cure” involves a multi prong treatment protocol. Dermatologists now have a war chest involving better options for skincare, safer sunscreens and topical antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. The Gold Standard of treatment for the vascular damage that evolves has been specific laser treatments.

The Intense Pulse Light Laser (IPL) offer the “cure” for Rosacea sufferers when treatments starts in the earlier phases. Some natural products that are helpful have been incorporated into skincare lines. Green Tea, Aloe Vera, Vitamin C, and B vitamin to mention a few.


  • The most obvious is to control sun exposure and continuing damage
  • Avoiding excessive heat and wind as well as sauna treatments and excessive exercise.
  • Overall stress reduction by incorporating yoga, tai chi and mediations methods in your lifestyle.
  • Avoiding spicy foods, coffee, garlic and onions.
  • Adding more Vitamin C and Vitamin B foods to your diet to promote healthier skin.
  • Avoid smoking which decreases the skins defence systems and increases the vascular disease of the skin.
  • Avoiding alcohol which causes gut damage and capillary damage.

Laser and Skin Care Medspa is able to provide a full complement of treatment that will involve an accurate diagnosis along with sub typing, appropriate products for cleaning, hydrating, protecting and nourishing the face. We can also provide effective laser treatments (for most the “cure”) of this distressing skin condition.

The Laser and Skin Care Medspa war chest includes water based Jane Iredale Makeup which offers excellent coverage while protecting, controlling infection and supporting the healing processes. Alyria and Revoderm anti redness creams soothe and calm inflamed skin.

The Palomar/Cynosure laser system provides an economical efficient removal of the vascular damage.

The best news is Rosacea does not need to control your life or make you feel bad!

Your consultation is covered by Alberta Health Care.