Myth Bustin’ Infrared

This past Thursday I talked skin care at Roots Hair Salon girls night. Go follow them @allaboutroots on Instagram now if you don’t already. They have the BEST GNO events with local boutiques and the hair/make-up tips are priceless (if you see me with wing eyeliner this week don’t be surprised-they dropped that trick in my toolbox Thursday night).  It’s just a friendly, fun environment and you don’t want to miss the next one.

I get so excited talking skin care and products. I love educating people about skin and mixing that with beauty is what makes my heart happy. At these type of events I usually spend about half the time debunking skin tip myths people ask about. It’s hard work filtering through good sound advice and marketing these days.

One of the things my patients have asked about a lot lately that also came up at the event was infrared light treatment for anti-aging purposes. Recently lots of gyms and tanning salons are getting “red light tanning beds” that advertise anti-aging effects instead of giving you a tan.

This confuses people because the sunscreen I use protects against infrared. It’s called total defense and repair and the science behind it proves that infrared rays from environmental sun exposure cause sunDAMAGE to the skin. Did you know that we used to only think UVB rays damaged the skin (1960’s)? Then we discovered later that UVA rays also damaged the skin(1977). Most recently brought to light (pun intended) are infrared rays that also damage the deeper layers of the skin. This is one of the many reasons I chose to use SkinMedica total defense and repair. Although other sunscreens have tried to duplicate the infrared protection claims, there have been no studies to prove those claims that I am aware of and you know I like to have science back me up.

The confusion comes when you hear about a red light tanning bed making you more collagen. Did you know I’ve actually recommended light for skin conditions? You can pick your jaw up off the floor. Controlled narrowband UV light three times per week is something we offer at the clinic for people suffering with psoriasis, occult pruritus, vitiligo and more! I don’t let those patients get a tan, there is a difference. Sometimes benefits of treatments outweigh the risk of that treatment. There is research out there that supports infrared light therapies to treat wound healing, protect muscles from stress (see references at end of blog if you want to geek out in research) and more. The difference in these infrared rays is time of exposure, intensity and heat production during exposure. Simply said, in a tightly controlled environment we can use red light for good causes but when coming from the sun and other uncontrolled devices it causes damage to the skin.

What does all this mean to you? Ask your dermatologist before you decide on treatments for your skin. Whether it’s a facial, a product, a device or an injection you should first consult a dermatologist. It’s a very complicated world out there and I think if you are reading this blog you are smart enough to know some people are padding their pockets first and foremost. Don’t be a victim of marketing ploys. Consult an expert who took an oath to first do no harm.

We are honored if you trust us with your skin at Johnson Dermatology. If you read this blog and don’t have a dermatologist I highly recommend you find one. Your skin is the largest organ in your body and it should be in the hands of someone who is an expert on skin.

“A market is never saturated with a good product, but it is very quickly saturated with a bad one.”      -Henry Ford

Merry Christmas, Nina

P.S. For those of you into science here ya go…..

a. Grether-Beck et al, Photoderm Photoimmunol Photomed 2014: review on photodamage from sun exposure other than UV
b. Robert et al., Skin Pharmacol & Physiol 2015: effect of IR-A on extracellular matrix
c. Schroeder et al, J Invest Dermatol 2008: infrared radiation increases MMP1


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