Meet a passionate expert actively pioneering the next generation of sun protection.
Sun Safety Q&A with Dr. Prithwiraj Maitra
We asked Dr. Prithwiraj Maitra, PhD—an expert in the science of sunscreen ingredients and formulation—about sun protection and skin cancer prevention. Here's what he had to say.
What drives your passion for sun protection?
I feel fortunate that I can collaborate with world-renowned scientists to help bring innovative sunscreen products to consumers. We know that skin cancer is preventable when sunscreen is used appropriately—and I want to use my knowledge and network to help reduce incidences of skin cancer in our world today.
Why is skin health so important?
Healthy skin is vital. It builds confidence and self esteem, and it also protects your body from external damage. Sunscreen not only prevents skin cancer, but also reduces signs of premature skin aging.
Is skin health a concern in your family?
My kids (ages 5 and 7) have sensitive skin and eczema. That's why I always keep skin tolerance in mind when I develop sun protection or skin care products.
The most important thing you can do is to make sunscreen an everyday routine.
What else do you think about when developing a sun care product?
On top of being effective and safe, I try to make a product that customers enjoy using. After all, you can have the best product in the world—but if consumers don't like putting it on, it won't work.
What would you say to someone looking to begin a healthy skin care routine?
The most important thing you can do is to make sunscreen an everyday routine, like brushing or using a daily moisturizer. Research has shown that daily sunscreen use can cut the incidence of melanoma in half. There are other sun safety measures you can take, such as avoiding the sun during peak hours, seeking shade, and wearing protective clothing while in the sun.
What about aging?
Over 90% of the visible changes commonly attributed to skin aging are caused by the sun. The best way to protect your natural beauty is by practicing comprehensive photo-protection, which includes using a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day.
Daily sunscreen use can cut the incidence of melanoma in half.
How could people improve the way they take care of their skin?
I think kids and teens should be better educated about sun safe behaviors. For example, not everyone knows how bad tanning is —and many people of color incorrectly think they don't need sun protection. Learning the importance of safe sun behaviors early on in life can really help to reduce incidence of skin cancer in future generations. That's why my colleagues and I are committed to working with communities and schools to develop educational programs for kids.
What do you look for in a sunscreen?
I look for SPF 30 or higher for daily protection. For recreational protection (like for a day at the beach with my family) I personally look for broad-spectrum and water resistant sunscreens that are higher than SPF 50.
What are people doing wrong when it comes to sun protection?
Most people either don't apply sunscreen, don’t apply the right amount, or they don't reapply properly. That's why I'm so happy to help change that with educational programs like ChooseSkinHealth.com, so kids can develop sun safety behaviors that last for a lifetime.
Prithwiraj Maitra, PhD is Associate Director and Research Fellow for Johnson & Johnson's Global Sun Care Innovation platform.
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