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Skincare Journal

7 Skincare Ingredients That May Make Your Skin More Sensitive to the Sun

7 Skincare Ingredients That May Make Your Skin More Sensitive to the Sun

Sunshine lifts our spirits, brightens our days, and provides essential Vitamin D.

But if you're a skincare aficionado, you're well aware of the sun's darker side. Ultraviolet rays can cause premature aging, hyperpigmentation, and, at worst, skin cancer. 

You likely already know the importance of slathering on sunscreen, donning wide-brimmed hats, and staying in the shade during peak UV hours. 

But, did you know that certain skincare ingredients can actually increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun?

From powerful skin lighteners to popular skin exfoliators, there's a laundry list of ingredients in skincare products that can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, leading to quicker sunburns, pigment changes, and a potentially increased risk of skin cancer. 

In this post, we'll dive into the nitty-gritty of photosensitivity, highlighting those innocent-looking bottles on your bathroom counter that could secretly be turning your skin into a UV magnet. 

Ingredients That Can Cause Photosensitivity

Let's explore seven of the most common skincare ingredients that can increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun.

Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids (AHAs and BHAs)

AHAs and BHAs are prominent players in the skincare world for their role in exfoliation. Glycolic acid, lactic acid, and salicylic acid are among the most common. 

By promoting the shedding of dead skin cells, these ingredients can leave newer, more vulnerable skin exposed, making your skin more susceptible to sun damage. 

Hydroxy acids can also break down your skin’s acid mantle and disrupt skin barrier function. This can lead to an imbalance in skin PH and make it vulnerable to additional environmental irritants. Using a nutrient-rich recovery serum like our Alpine Phytonutrient or Purist Delicate Skin Serum can help skin bounce back more quickly and support skin barrier health. 

If hydroxy acids are a standard ingredient in your skincare routine, take extra care to protect your skin from sun exposure.

Chemical Sunscreens

It might sound paradoxical, but certain chemical sunscreens can sometimes provoke a photosensitive reaction. 

Ingredients such as avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, and octinoxate absorb UV radiation, transform it into heat, and release it from the skin.

A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology showed that some people can have allergic reactions to these chemical absorbers, which can manifest as photosensitivity.

In addition, several of these chemical sunscreen ingredients, like octocrylene, degrade during sun exposure becoming benzophenone, a compound suspected of being carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting. 

Traditional Retinoids

Retinoids are derivatives of Vitamin A and are lauded for their anti-aging and acne-fighting benefits. Unfortunately, they can also make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. 

This sensitivity is due to the thinning of the stratum corneum, the skin's outermost layer. A study in the Archives of Dermatology confirmed that the use of topical tretinoin resulted in increased sun sensitivity. 

Botanical retinoid alternatives, like Dew Bean, found in our Aspen Dew Illuminating Essence, are a gentler alternative to traditional retinoids and do not cause photosensitivity. 

Certain Citrus Essential Oils

Specific citrus essential oils, such as Bergamot, Lemon, and Lime, can induce a phototoxic reaction when applied to the skin, followed by exposure to the sun.

The compounds responsible for this effect are called furanocoumarins. Never apply these essential oils directly onto your skin and avoid using skincare products with these ingredients prior to sun exposure. 

Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide works to prevent breakouts by delivering oxygen to skin pores, killing the anaerobic (unable to live in oxygen) P. acnes bacteria responsible for acne formation. It also helps to exfoliate the skin, removing dead skin cells that can clog pores.

Unfortunately, benzoyl peroxide can also make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. The mechanism by which it causes photosensitivity isn't yet completely understood, but it is believed that it increases the skin's sensitivity to UV radiation by inducing oxidative stress.

The mild irritation and redness that accompany benzoyl peroxide use can be exacerbated by sun exposure. 


Like many other skin-lightening agents, hydroquinone can cause photosensitivity. This is because it disrupts the production and distribution of melanin, which naturally helps protect skin from harmful UV radiation. Using hydroquinone can make your skin more susceptible to UV damage.

While effective, hydroquinone is best used with caution. Not only can hydroquinone cause photosensitivity, but it also increased the risk of developing a condition called ochronosis, a rare but potentially permanent skin discoloration.

For a natural alternative, our Aspen Dew Illuminating Essence contains Aspen Bark which brightens skin without the photosensitizing side effects.

Always use sunscreen and limit sun exposure while using hydroquinone. It should not be used for long periods without a break and always under the supervision of a dermatologist.


Accutane, now called Isotretinoin, is a highly potent drug that can lead to serious side effects, the least of which is increased sun sensitivity and burning. Always wear SPF 50+ if you are using Accutane as part of your skincare routine and never use it without medical supervision.

So now you're probably thinking, "Great, I can't use anything anymore!" Hold your horses! There's no need to throw out half your beauty cabinet. 

How to minimize photosensitivity

Understanding how your beauty routine might be making you photosensitive is half the battle. Here’s what you can do about it.

Know Your Ingredients: Get in the habit of reading product labels. Understand what's in your beauty products and how they may impact your skin. 

Apply Sunscreen Religiously: Non-toxic mineral sunscreen is your best friend, rain or shine. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, and don't skimp on it!

Avoid Direct Sunlight: The sun's rays are the most harmful between 10 AM and 4 PM, so try to stay in the shade during these hours.

Wear Protective Clothing: Wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and long-sleeved clothing can provide additional protection.

Just like Sid the Seagull reminds us in one of the most successful health campaigns in Australia's history, “Slip! Slop! Slap!”

Slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen, and slap on a hat before you go out in the sun! If you haven’t seen it yet it’s worth Googling. 

And always check with your healthcare provider or dermatologist about the potential photosensitivity effects of both your skincare products and medications.


J. Kim, K. J. Park, H. J. Park, E. Kim, Y. H. Kim, J. M. Park, and Y. I. Park. “Ultraviolet Radiation-Induced Skin Aging: The Role of DNA Damage and Oxidative Stress in Epidermal Stem Cell Damage Mediated Skin Aging.” Stem Cells International, vol. 2016, Article ID 7370642, 14 pages, 2016. 

Ditre, CM et al. “Effects of alpha-hydroxy acids on photoaged skin: a pilot clinical, histologic, and ultrastructural study.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology vol. 34,2 Pt 1 (1996): 187-95. 

Nash, JF and Tanner, PR. “Relevance of UV filter/sunscreen product photostability to human safety.” Photodermatology, Photoimmunology & Photomedicine, vol. 30,2-3 (2014): 88-95. 

Mukherjee, S et al. “Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety.” Clinical Interventions in Aging, vol.1,4 (2006): 327-348. 

Kligman, LH. “Effects of all-trans-retinoic acid on the dermis of hairless mice.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, vol.15,4 Pt 2 (1986): 779-85, 866-7. 

Moore, DE. “Drug-induced cutaneous photosensitivity: incidence, mechanism, prevention and management.” Drug Safety, vol.25,5 (2002): 345-72. 

Lim, HW et al. “American Academy of Dermatology Consensus Conference on UVA protection of sunscreens: summary and recommendations. American Academy of Dermatology.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, vol. 44,6 (2001): 505-8. 

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5 Ways UV Rays Damage Your Skin: What You Need to Know to Stay Protected

5 Ways UV Rays Damage Your Skin: What You Need to Know to Stay Protected

Most of us are well aware of the risks associated with sun exposure and the importance of sun protection as a means of skin cancer prevention. 

But do you know exactly how UV rays damage your skin? 

In this three-part series dedicated to Skin Cancer Awareness Month, we'll first explore the impact of UV rays on skin DNA and structure. In subsequent posts, we’ll highlight some powerful skincare ingredients that offer fortifying and restorative benefits to sun-damaged skin as well as cover other ways in which you can protect your skin from ultraviolet damage.

The following are five ways in which ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun, primarily UVA and UVB rays, cause damage to the skin:

1. DNA damage and skin cancer risk 

UVB rays can directly damage the DNA in skin cells. This damage to our skin’s genetic code can lead to mutations that can result in skin cancer such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. This is in part due to the fact that the DNA damage continues hours after our exposure to the sun has ended.

  • Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30
  • Wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and wide-brimmed hats
  • Seek shade during peak sun hours (10 am-4 pm)

2. Sunburn and inflammation 

UVB rays are the main culprits of sunburn, an acute response to excessive UV exposure characterized by redness, inflammation, and sometimes blistering. The safest way to prevent sunburn is to cover up, use SPF 50+, and avoid sun exposure when ultraviolet rays are at their strongest, between 10 am-4 pm.

  • Apply and reapply sunscreen every 2 hours
  • Wear sun-protective clothing
  • Avoid peak sun hours (10 am-4 pm)

3. Pigmentation changes

UVA and UVB rays stimulate melanocytes (pigment-producing cells) in the skin, leading to the development of freckles, age spots, and uneven skin tone. An additional unfortunate byproduct of melanin production is DNA derivatives called cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (CPDs). CPDs are associated with an increased risk of melanoma. UVA rays penetrate the deepest into the skin and can pass through panes of glass (such as car windows) and cloud cover.

  • Use sunscreen daily, even on cloudy days
  • Incorporate brightening skincare products to fade pigmentation
  • Consult a dermatologist for personalized treatment options

4. Collagen and elastin degradation 

UVA rays can damage collagen and elastin fibers in the skin. This damage results in premature skin aging characterized by wrinkles, and loss of skin structure which leads to sagging skin and overall loss of elasticity.

  • Apply sunscreen to protect against UVA and UVB rays
  • Include skincare products with antioxidants and collagen-boosting ingredients like our Alpine Phytonutrient Serum.
  • Consider professional treatments to stimulate collagen production

5. Blood vessel dilation

UVA rays can cause dilation of blood vessels in the skin, contributing to erythema (redness) and inflammation.

  • Use a physical sunscreen containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide
  • Choose skincare products with calming ingredients, such as aloe vera like our Aspen Dew Illuminating Essence.
  • Consult a dermatologist for treatments targeting redness and inflammation

While the most foolproof way of protecting your skin from ultraviolet rays is to stay out of the sun, this is not always possible or desirable. 

You can however protect your skin by making a habit of wearing non-toxic mineral sunscreen daily. And you can fortify your skin against the sun by using skin care products that fight oxidative stress and free radical damage.  

With powerful free radical scavenging ingredients like Edelweiss and Bearberry extract, The Aspen Dew Illuminating Essence supports skin health both before and after sun exposure.

UV Rays FAQs

How do UV rays damage the skin?

A: UV rays can damage the skin in various ways, including causing DNA damage, sunburn, pigmentation changes, collagen and elastin degradation, and blood vessel dilation.

What's the difference between UVA and UVB rays?

A: UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin and contribute to premature aging, while UVB rays are responsible for sunburn and DNA damage. Both types can contribute to skin cancer.

How can I protect my skin from UV damage?

A: Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30, wear sun-protective clothing, sunglasses, and wide-brimmed hats, and seek shade during peak sun hours (10 am-4 pm).

Sources cited:

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Pollen Could Be Ruining Your Skin

Pollen Could Be Ruining Your Skin

We've discussed how pollution damages the skin, and now, you can add pollen to the list of environmental skin assaults. That fine powdery substance emitted from flowers during germination causes more problems than sneezing and itchy eyes. 

Data presented by Estee Lauder Companies at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Investigative Dermatology showed that pollen makes up a significant amount of particulate pollution, and has been demonstrated to be damaging to the skin.

The bad news is that you can't control the levels of pollen pollution in the air. The good news? You can totally safeguard your skin against them, and natural antioxidants and barrier-strengthening ingredients are a great place to start.

Similar to the radiance-sapping, pigment-producing effects of pollution like car emissions, smoke, chemicals, and UV rays, pollen also has the ability to attack skin cells.

How does pollen damage the skin?

1. Pollen inhibits collagen production

"Pollen can enter the skin itself through hair follicles" explains Dr. Charlene DeHaven, M.D. Clinical Director at iS Clinical.

One of the major ways it affects the skin is by restricting collagen production, the protein that gives skin its strength and elasticity, and without it, skin tends to look slack, deflated, and peppered with fine lines and wrinkles.

What can you do?

Antioxidants, like vitamin C, are effective in shielding against the skin-ravaging effects of pollen. And according to dermatologists, vitamin C is essential for collagen synthesis. The Edelweiss in our Aspen Dew Illuminating Essence has twice the free radical scavenging power of brightening Vitamin C!

2. Pollen can make your skin itch

This is beauce pollen can lead to an inflammatory response on the skin. Inflammation can present itself as a rash, itchy areas, and redness and is also a result of skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea.  

"People with sensitive or sensitized skin are most vulnerable to pollen irritation, however, anyone with oily or acne-prone skin isn’t necessarily immune. The enlarged pores and inflammation associated with oilier skin types allow the pollen proteins to penetrate into the skin through follicles and open sebaceous glands," explains Dr. Meder. 

How to stop it: Meder advises that "irrespective of your skin type or shade, the best advice is to treat skin gently," using products like The Purist Delicate Skin Serum that will protect the skin from the direct effects of pollen. 

3. Pollen may damage the skin barrier

If the skin's barrier function is weakened, the skin tends to become dry, itchy, and irritated. 

To counteract the damage, it pays to look out for ingredients that are going to rebuild the skin's barrier.

The ones that derms rave about? Ceramides, like the vegetable ceramides in our Aspen Dew Essence. Our skin produces ceramides naturally, but thanks to an onslaught of things like pollution and pollen, the levels take a bit of a dip and therefore need replenishing.

Go for organic moisturizers with a shielding effect, and avoid dimethicone, cyclomethicone, and other occlusive silicones. Instead, look for natural oil products with saturated fatty acids, such as Jojoba oil, Evening Primrose, and Argan oils found in The Alpine Phytonutrient Serum.

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Skincare Tips for Skiing

Skincare Tips for Skiing

You may not notice the damage until you are off the slopes, but multiple elements victimize your complexion while you are enjoying alpine recreation. Wind, sun, cold, heat, and dryness at high altitudes create the perfect situation for chapped, depleted skin.  

A 2003 Journal of the American Medical Association study found that sun intensity increases about 6% to 9% for every 1,000 feet of elevation, and sun reflection off the snow increases your UV exposure.

And while sunscreen is essential, you need more for ultimate skin protection. In Telluride, Colorado, people get out and go!

Downhill, Nordic and heli-skiing, ice climbing, winter fly fishing, snowshoeing, or snowmobile cruising are part of the day.

Shield & recover

TellurideGlow recovery skincare was formulated precisely for the harsh mountain climate at 9,000ft above sea level. We gratefully embrace resort recreation but the downside is living with ongoing skin challenges. So we take extra care to replenish, nourish, and avoid accelerated aging from skin damage.

Before you hit the slopes

Start with a cleansing balm or oil-based face wash to avoid stripping the skin and to leave behind a hydrating film instead. We prefer 100% botanical formulas. Organic ingredients are less important in cleansers because they are not leave-on products.

Then apply two essential layers to lubricate your skin with as much moisture as you can to prevent dryness and irritation later.

First, pat on a quenching serum—Aspen Dew Illuminating Essence is loaded with moisture-binding hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, and phytoceramides.

Top it off with a nourishing organic facial oil with barrier-strengthening plant lipids: The Alpine Phytonutrient Serum or The Purist Delicate Skin Serum both absorb like a dream, are equally high moisture performers, and the 100% whole plant, cold pressed botanicals to deliver better skin nutrition with unprocessed, soothing antioxidants that fight photo-aging all day long.

Both are formulated for the harsh alpine climate in Telluride, so they've been put to the test.


Finish with sunscreen. Mineral sunscreens provide a physical barrier and should be applied last. Our favorites include sunscreens without the controversial ingredient Oxybenzone, which is currently under consideration for removal by the FDA.

Try a moisturizing sunscreen like Supergoop's Unseen Sunscreen broad spectrum, 40 SPF that is water and sweat resistant and includes blue light protection. It's a favorite because there is no tint and the velvety consistency doubles as a primer.

Carry a portable stick with sunscreen for touch-ups on lips and nose, like mineral TIZO Tinted Lip Protection with SPF 45 and no Oxybenzone. Whichever sunscreen you shooce, be your own expert. And, did you know that chapstick with sunscreen has an expiration date? It's usually at the bottom of the tube. It may be time for some lip balm purging. 

Apres skiing

Refresh. Not much time between apres ski and dinner? Rub one drop of either Serum between the palms and press into the face. 100% of the ingredients have antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, and more so your skin microbes will flourish, even over makeup. Best of all, you'll see immediate plumpness and a dewy glow like you've been reading by the fire all day.

Spritz yourself like a house plant as often as possible. Look for hydrosols that are pure flower distillates like Bulgarian Rose Water. It is anti-inflammatory, balancing, and one more moisture boost. Make sure it's the real deal - steam distilled from fresh rose petal and not fragranced or perfumed water. Always note the expiration date with a hydrosol.

Recoup & relax

You may not want to hear this, but it is best to avoid chlorine-filled, skin-drying hot tubs. We swear by Epsom-salt baths, a private slice of heaven that works miracles to soothe tired muscles and prevent soreness the next day.

As tempting as it may sound, don't get the water too hot, as that alone may be drying. Work up to 2 cups of Epson per bath and soak for 20-40 minutes. Sound like a lot? Amazon's 4 lbs of unscented magnesium sulfate salts can be delivered to your door for less than $5.

Choose unscented Epsom salt because added 'fragrance' or 'perfume' can mean over 200 undisclosed scent chemicals, which may be irritating to your skin.

Reactions to Epsom salt baths may be from the fragrance chemicals, not the salt! You can always add a few drops of essential oil, or for that price, you can indulge with a pump of The Alpine into your bath for an aromatic botanical getaway with skin benefits.

Replenish with a face mask

TellurideGlow's ten-minute Snow Rose Recovery Mask with hydrating botanicals includes rose petals and Tremella (snow) mushroom to reveal luminous, soft, dewy, and polished skin. Your other products will work better on purified, exfoliated skin.

For extra nourishment, add a pump of either serum and follow with the essence and serum. Result? Skin perfection like you've stayed in for a day of pampering.

Note: Avoid the combo of Epsom salt with mask actives. But if you are not using bath salts, a mask in the tub is the perfect way to relax and remove the mask by exfoliating with wet hands. 

Don't have ten minutes? Mix mask powder with water for a quick facial scrub to exfoliate dead skin cells. Exfoliation removes dead, dulling skin debris to prevent congestion and breakouts.

Skincare before bed

Use the same two TellurideGlow steps (Essence and one Serum) as the morning ritual, so no need to pack extra products. Just two products, morning and night for everything your complexion needs to defend, recover and radiate.

Return home from your skiing vacation like you've come from a spa retreat. If you are new to TellurideGlow, you can try our beautiful luxe minis for the full spa experience, or pack a couple in your carry on for travel.

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Spring Skincare Tips For Radiant Skin

Spring Skincare Tips For Radiant Skin

Changes in temperature, humidity levels, and exposure to environmental factors all have an impact on our skin. During winter months, skin can become dull and dehydrated from the dry air and cold temperatures. 

But as the weather starts to warm up, our skin can experience an increase in oil production, leading to clogged pores and breakouts. In addition, higher levels of environmental allergens like pollen can trigger skin allergies and sensitivities. 

This makes spring the perfect time to detoxify and revitalize our skin.

Tailoring your skincare routine to address these seasonal changes is an easy way to do this. 

Try to incorporate products into your routine that provide protection, hydration, and nourishment like our Alpine Phytonutrient Serum which is rich in revitalizing alpine adaptogens like Edelweiss known to aid in helping skin transition from one season to the next.

This helps ensure your skin remains healthy, radiant, and resilient throughout the spring season.

Here are some tips that can be easily incorporated into your skincare routine to achieve luminous, glowing skin this spring.

Tips for Radiant Spring Skin 

Fortify & Strengthen

Reach for cold-pressed lipids like cloudberry and sea buckthorn oils to strengthen the skin's acid mantle and reduce irritation. We have included them in both The Alpine Phytonutrient Serum and The Purist Delicate Skin Serum, to help fortify and lock in moisture for a hydrated glowing complexion.

Protect With Antioxidants

With warmer weather comes more time spent outdoors. Counteract adverse effects of UV rays with whole-plant botanicals and protective antioxidants like pomegranate seed oil, which you can find in The Purist Delicate Skin Serum, or moringa oil, found in The Alpine Phytonutrient Serum.

Gently Resurface & Rejuvenate

Rejuvenate your spring skincare routine. Powerful resurfacing botanicals like aspen bark and dew bean are perfect for skin rejuvenation and brightening. Both are found in our Aspen Dew Illuminating Essence.

Exfoliate Weekly

Gentle exfoliation can help to remove any accumulated dead skin cells and reveal a fresh, vibrant complexion. Our Snow Rose Recovery Mask can be used as a skin scrub that is safe to use on sensitive skin and helps to detoxify winter skin.

Dry Brush Daily

Dry brushing helps to stimulate circulation and can help activate the lympatic system allowing our body and skin to detoxify. Dry brush daily before showing for best results.

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Summer Skincare Tips For a Healthy Glowing Complexion

Summer Skincare Tips For a Healthy Glowing Complexion

The perfect skincare routine adapts to your skin's needs in the moment. That includes making seasonal adjustments.

Summer months mean lots of daylight hours and greater sun exposure. But hot weather coupled with more sun can result in dark spots, sunburn, and breakouts thanks to clogged pores. 

To help your skin adjust to warmer weather we've put together a list of five tips for a healthy glow this summer.

Switch to a non-irritating botanical retinoid

Retinoids can sensitize skin to sun which can end in sunburn. Reduce the frequency of retinoid use or increase your sun protection. Or better still, switch to a non-irritating botanical retinoid alternative like dew bean, found in our Aspen Dew Illuminating Essence.

Use a fast-absorbing serum 

Reach for fast-absorbing serums, like our Purist Delicate Skin Serum for moisture that doesn't leave skin feeling heavy or sticky. Pomegranate is coveted for antioxidant and skin hydration, penetrating easily and deeply to create lasting, non-greasy moisture.

Decongest pores

Pores are more prone to get clogged in the summer thanks to our skin's increased sweat and oil production. Look for non-comedogenic formulas to help balance skin and avoid breakouts. Chamomile helps to decongest pores and is also rich in flavonoids and antioxidants.

Guard against photo-aging

Aside from using your favorite SPF (50+ for your face), botanicals, such as pomegranate, arctic cranberry, camellia, and Nepalese goji, which can be found in The Purist, provide heightened defense against the visible signs of photo-aging.

Boost skin recovery

Soothing lavender has been used for centuries for skin recovery, and for good reason. If you are in the sun for extended periods this summer, consider post-sun exposure recovery. You can find a more potent high-altitude lavender in The Alpine Phytonutrient Serum.

We recommend using The Purist or The Alpine during the day, and The Alpine after sun to get the best effect.

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