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Your face is your most valuable asset.


Skin changes are related to environmental factors, genetic makeup, nutrition, and other factors. The greatest single factor, though, is sun exposure. Aging is accelerated in those areas exposed to sunlight, a process known as photoaging. This can be seen by comparing areas of your body that have regular sun exposure with areas that are protected from sunlight.

Natural pigments seem to provide some protection against sun-induced skin damage. Blue-eyed, fair-skinned people show more aging skin changes than people with darker, more heavily pigmented skin.

Damage caused by short wavelength ultraviolet radiation (UVB) injury to the outside layers of the skin (epidermis), is mainly responsible for sunburn and is worst at hotter times of the year. Damage caused by this is noticeable and quite easily preventable.

Damage from longer wavelength ultraviolet radiation (UVA) to the deeper middle layers (dermis) is responsible for photoaging and is often evident only after many years of over-exposure. UVA radiation causes damage directly to DNA and skin proteins, and indirectly via the formation of aggressive oxygen free radicals. It accelerates aging and is linked to the development of skin cancers. UVA radiation is fairly constant throughout the year and does its worst damage in winter when most people forget their sunblock. UVA rays are also released by fluorescent ligthing in offices and can penetrate glass! So many people say, "I am in the office all day...I don't need sunblock..." Beware!!

Photoaging changes are particularly apparent on the face, and may occur at an early age in South Africans who have spent much time outdoors, especially if they are fair skinned (skin phototypes I and II). Overactivity of tanning cells (melanocytes) results in blotchy pigmentation with brown freckles, solar lentigines, liver spots and white marks.

Sunlight can cause loss of elasticity (elastosis), noncancerous skin growths, pigment changes such as liver spots and thickening of the skin. Sun exposure has also been directly linked to skin cancers, including basal cell epithelioma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.


Because most skin changes are related to sun exposure, prevention is a lifelong process.

  • Prevent sunburn if at all possible. Stay out of the sun when it is strongest.
  • Use a good quality sunscreen when outdoors, even in the winter. Use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.
  • Wear protective clothing and hats as necessary.
  • Avoid sunlamps and tanning beds.


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 Breaking news….FDA Changes Sunscreen Labelling

Sun protect

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made significant changes to the laws regarding how sunscreen is measured and disclosed.

New requirements for sunscreens currently sold over-the-counter (OTC) will be imposed to ensure that only sunscreens with UVA and UVB protection at an SPF 15 or higher can claim ‘broad spectrum protection’, according to the announcement made on June 14.

The FDA is making the changes, which are due to come into effect by June 2012, as part of its on-going efforts to ensure that sunscreens meet modern-day standards for safety and effectiveness and to help consumers have the information they need so they can choose the right sun protection for themselves and their families.

Prior rules on sunscreens dealt almost exclusively with protection against sunburn, which is primarily caused by ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation from the sun, and did not address ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation, which contributes to skin cancer and early skin aging. After reviewing the latest science, FDA determined that sufficient data are available to establish a ‘broad spectrum’ test for determining a sunscreen product's UVA protection. Passing the broad spectrum test shows that the product provides UVA protection that is proportional to its UVB protection.

Sunscreen products that pass the broad spectrum test are allowed to be labelled as ‘Broad Spectrum’. Scientific data demonstrated that products that are ‘Broad Spectrum SPF 15 [or higher]’ have been shown to reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin ageing when used with other sun protection measures, in addition to helping prevent sunburn. Other sun protection measures include limiting time in the sun and wearing protective clothing.

Decisions made by the FDA are often seen as a benchmark for other countries across the globe.