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Bonnie Kelly

What is the Difference Between a Physical and Chemical Sunscreen?

By | Laser Hair Removal, Sunscreen | One Comment

When looking for a sunscreen you need to know what you are buying. There are two classifications when you are talking about sunscreens:  Chemical and Physical.

  • Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the energy of UV light before it affects your skin.  There is no single ingredient in a chemical sunscreen that totally blocks the UV spectrum (unlike a  physical sunblock ).  Therefore, several chemicals such as, avobenzone, oxybenzone or octorylene, just to name a few, are put into the product to give you the UVB (the burning ray) and more recently, UVA (the aging ray) protection.
  • Physical sunscreens most often referred to as sunblocks, scatter the UV light before it reaches your skin.  The two most common ingredients found in physical sunblocks are Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide.  These ingredients physically block the ultraviolet radiation and provide broad spectrum protection against UVB and UVA rays.

Recently you may have heard reports that the use of chemical sunscreens may cause cancer.  This has not been proven with any clinical studies.  The vast majority of health care providers recommend the use of sunscreens/sunblocks, since it has been shown that unprotected sun exposure and indoor tanning beds do definitely increase one’s risk for all types of skin cancer.

If you are concerned about the controversy over sunscreens being potentially harmful, I would suggest sticking with a physical sunblock with Zinc Oxide and/or Titanium Dioxide as its only active ingredients.

What Options are Available to Get Rid of Unwanted Hair?

By | Electrolysis, Laser Hair Removal | One Comment

There are many options available to get rid of unwanted facial and body hair.  It depends on how much hair you have, the color of your skin and hair, and what results you are looking for.  Here are some temporary and permanent methods of hair removal:

1.  If you have very light hair and have fair skin, you can use a bleaching cream, like jolene.  Make sure you do a test spot in an inconspicuous place to be sure you have a good skin reaction.  If you have dark skin and dark hair, using a bleaching cream will only make the hairs blond and more noticeable.

2.  Waxing and threading are additional methods of hair removal.  These methods are not permanent and may make the situation worse.  You need to discontinue the use of Retin-A or any other retinoid at least one week before having these treatments done because  it can rip off the top layer of your skin.

2.  There is a cream, which will require a prescription from you doctor, called Vaniqa.  This medication will slow the growth of your hair, but will not permanently get rid of them.

3.  Electrolysis is a permanent form of hair removal and will require multiple treatments.  I will suggest this method if there are only a few hairs or if the hair is too light.

4.  Lastly, there is laser hair removal.  Laser hair removal works best on light skin; dark hair.  This method is very popular when doing large areas, such as bikini, underarms and legs. Depending on the area being treated, you will need between 4-8 treatments that are usually spaced at 6-8 week intervals.  A consultation is always required to determine if you will be a good candidate for laser hair removal.

Hopefully after reading this blog, you will be able to determine which method will be right for you!

The Two Most Important Sunscreen Ingredients

By | Blog, Sunscreen | One Comment

Neutrogena Sunscreen SPF 55

I found a really interesting article on Everyday Health today that talks about some of the misconceptions about sunscreen, and some ingredients you need to look for when shopping for sunscreen this summer.  Here are some highlights from the article, that you can read here:

1.  The two most important ingredients when shopping for sunscreen is a) zinc oxide; and b) titanium dioxide.  There is a third ingredient that was recently approved by the FDA called Mexoryl.

2. A big myth about sunscreen is that you get double the protection when you double the SPF.  In fact, SPF 30 is only 4% more protection than SPF 15.

3. Make sure you apply enough sunscreen to cover the areas exposed.  They recommend a tablespoon for your face (including ears), and a shotglass to cover your body (arms, legs, etc.).

4.  The last point was fairly obvious, but you should re-apply sunscreen every 3-4 hours, or after swimming or bathing.

Neutrogena has a variety of products that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.  The one in the photo is the Ultra-Sheer Dry Touch Sunblock SPF 55.

Can I Have Laser Hair Removal While Using Retin-A?

By | Blog, Laser Hair Removal | No Comments

The answer is no, you should stop this medication 2 weeks before any laser hair removal treatment, regardless of the area being treated.  Retin-A, Avita and Renova are brand names for the generic drug Tretinoin.  These medications are used to treat severe acne and used to rebuild sun-damaged skin from years of tanning, reduce or eliminate liver spots, wrinkles, brown or gray growths and even precancerous lesions.

Side effects that may occur if this medication is not stopped prior to your laser treatment may include burning of the skin, hyper-pigmentation (darkening of the skin) and hypo-pigmentation (lightening of the skin).

Note:  Although it is not known if this medication shows up in breast milk, use caution and check with your doctor before using.

Do You Know the Difference Between UVB and UVA Rays?

By | Blog, Laser Hair Removal | No Comments

Do you know the difference between UVB and UVA rays?  UVB rays are considered the “tanning ray”  and are strongest in the summer when the earth rotates closest to the sun.  This ray will penetrate the epidermis, which is the top layer of our skin, and has about the same thickness of a silk scarf.  UVB rays stimulate the melanocyte cell to produce more melanin, which is the pigment in our skin.

UVA , often regarded as the “safe” ray, is now known to be even more harmful than UVB rays because UVA rays are the same strength regardless of the time of year. It doesn’t matter how close or how far the sun is.  These rays go through clothing, car and office windows and hats. So, a good sunscreen of SPF 30 or greater with UVA, UVB protection should always be used.  You should apply your sunscreen 20 minutes before going into the sun.

Various types of UV rays

Courtesy of

Because sunlight regulates our biological clock and provides essential vitamin D, common sense should be used in determining amount of sun exposure.  As far as laser hair removal is concerned, I have to take into consideration the amount of sun exposure you have had to determine if you can qualify for treatment.  So if you are interested in continuing laser treatments this summer, please be sure to avoid the sun as much as you can and use SPF 30 or greater.  Also, sunscreens with high amounts of zinc oxide are going to be higher quality, and a better protector.

Does Laser Hurt or Cause Scarring?

By | Blog, Laser Hair Removal | No Comments

laser hair removal with the gentlelaseIf you compare laser to waxing, a laser is not nearly as painful – but is probably a bit more painful than tweezing. When the pulsed light touches your skin, it feels like a rubber band snapping your skin. Laser should not cause any scarring. Your skin may have some redness to it after the treatment, but will disappear hours after your treatment.

What is the Difference Between Laser and Electrolysis?

By | Blog, Electrolysis, Laser Hair Removal | No Comments

no more tweezingMany of my clients ask me what the difference is between electrolysis and laser treatments.  The answer is that each procedure varies greatly, but depending on which one you can use depends a lot on skin type, hair type and personal preference.  Electrolysis has been around for a long time and is the only way to “permanently” remove the hair folicle. Laser is a relatively newer technology and works best on dark hair, light skinned candidates. Since we are located in the Berkshires, many of the people who visit me are fair skinned and sometimes laser is a good alternative. Electrolysis will work on virtually all skin types and color, but can take longer to clear a large area of hair compared to laser.