PODCAST: SPF SMACKDOWN! with Alisha Merlo of Colorescience

UV rays not only cause visual damage to the skin, but can eventually lead to skin cancer. Alisha Merlo, executive director of professional relations for Colorescience, joins us to “smack down” all the dumb excuses we use for not wearing enough sunscreen and bust common myths about sun protection.

Whether you’re not wearing sunscreen to save money, to keep your makeup looking cute, or because you think you look better with a tan, find out what happens when you don’t wear sunscreen and get answers to your burning (ha ha, see what we did there?) questions about sun protection, including:

  • How much sunscreen do I need?
  • How often should I reapply?
  • Are there any effective drugstore brands?
  • What types of hats actually protect from UV?
  • Are the chemicals in sunscreen safe for children?

When searching for the right sunscreen for you, Alisha recommends asking these questions:

  • Is it a mineral sunscreen?
  • Is it broad spectrum?
  • Is it SPF 30 or higher?
  • Is it tested and proven to protect against UVA?

Please request your free consultation online or call La Jolla Cosmetic, San Diego, at (858) 452-1981 for more


Learn more about Colorescience, a San Diego-based global skin health company 

Purchase Colorescience Sunforgettable® Mineral Sunscreen Brush SPF 50 on our skin care store  

See the photo of the 92-year old woman who Monique used to illustrate what happens when you don’t wear sunscreen  
Read how sunscreen with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are recognized by the FDA as safe and effective

Reef Safe Sunscreen Guide

Skin Cancer Foundation


Speaker 3 (00:07):
You are listening to the La Jolla Cosmetic podcast.

Monique Ramsey (00:15):
Welcome everyone to the La Jolla Cosmetic Podcast. You may not recognize me, but I’m your hostess Monique Ramsey, and we have a very special guest today in our studio. Alisha Merlo. She’s our neighbor in Carlsbad and she’s the executive director of professional relations for Colorescience. Alisha, welcome to our show.

Alisha Merlo (00:37):
Thank you so much, Monique. It’s a pleasure to join you.

Monique Ramsey (00:40):
So why we look ridiculous, why is that? So I’m going to disrobe from my, my get up here, which was kind of an interesting thing. So today we’re doing a sunscreen SmackDown SPF SmackDown. And Alisha is, you know, she’s been in our industry for a long time, but she is just, she knows everything there is to know about Colorescience. Yeah. I’m not going to say you’re like a senior editor like me, like we’ve been around a long time, but you do know a lot and you know everybody. And so Colorescience is a San Diego local company, right? In Carlsbad. Right. And so tell us about the company and the work that you do there.

Alisha Merlo (01:19):
Absolutely. Monique, you know, I like to consider us the OGs of this industry. Because we’ve got a lot of street cred and a lot of wisdom behind us. So Colorescience is a company local to San Diego, North County specifically, and our focus is on the skin health realm and what’s the best way to have healthy skin. But it’s all about protecting skin health. And we are not only just here based out of Carlsbad, we’re national and we’re actually a global company. So we get to protect and rejuvenate skin around the world. And we have been the leaders for several decades and we’ve been in business in innovating in the most important thing that you’ll put on your skin is sun care.

Monique Ramsey (02:02):
Right? And we are calling this episode the S SPF SmackDown because it’s UV Safety Awareness month. And so with Alisha, we’re going to smack down the excuses and dumb reasons that we either don’t wear enough sunscreen or we don’t wear it at all. That shouldn’t be it. And busting myths around sunscreen. So today’s episode has some visuals, so we encourage you if you’re going to watch this one, you know, watch it on YouTube and you’ll see our silly getups too. You can like go back and start again and see what ridiculous things we were wearing. And then there’s a link in the show notes to jump over to YouTube. If right now you’re on Spotify or you’re on Apple. So before we get into it, it might seem sort of silly to ask, but why is sunscreen so important and what happens if you don’t protect your skin from UV light?

Alisha Merlo (02:54):
That’s a great question because some people don’t really understand the actual of this at the level that they should. And I really look at it, there’s three things that we should really focus on, on why we want to protect our skin health. So let’s just talk about health in general. One of the things that is a major contributor to skin damage is the sun, right? The environment, right? We’re getting all of these rays from the sun, from the UVA rays, the UVB rays, and the full spectrum. And what does that do to our skin over time with prolonged use, it actually exposes us to increased risk of skin cancer. And skin cancer is unfortunately the most predominant form of cancer that’s diagnosed every year more than all the other cancers combined. Wow. And actually one in five, I know one in five Americans will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer by the age of 70.

So if we know that’s a risk factor that’s pretty high, we’d want to protect ourselves any way we can, right? And with all the tools and resources we have, so that’s number one for sure is we don’t want skin cancer, right? Number two, which I think falls in line with what you bring to the table for all of your listeners and all the wonderful people who have the opportunity to come and seek care with you is aging 90%. This is 90% right? Like almost all of the aging that we see is due to the exposure to the sun. So if we want to protect ourselves in that way from aging and slowed it down, we would really need to be able to explore all the ways that we can do to mitigate the aging. And there’s a third reason we’ll get to it later, but that’s protecting the investments when they come in. Oh yeah. To see you for their treatments,

Monique Ramsey (04:37):
Right? And you know it sometimes I like, I tend to be one of those people who loves the beach, loves to be in the sun. And it’s like, okay, you can love it but you have to love it in a smart way. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today is how to be smart about it. Because we live in a beautiful place and everybody should be out outside and enjoying, you know, all that San Diego has to offer. But certainly coming into the anti-aging great reasons. But then of course that one in five, that 20% skin cancer, that’s a very high number. So I want to show you guys a crazy photo that my producer Eva sent me to illustrate what happens when you don’t wear sunscreen. So I want to share my screen and show you this skin cancer prevention article. And this is showing a 92 year old female who used UV protective moisturizers on her face but not on her neck for 40 plus years. And look at, I mean, gosh, the fact that she’s 92 and look at her face, she looks actually really good. That skin quality is not half bad for 92. But look at her neck and look at the striking difference it says in solar damage between her neck and her cheeks. If that doesn’t tell the story, ,

Alisha Merlo (06:00):
I think that is such an important visual that you brought up and I’m so glad you did because when we’re talking about, and we’ll get into products and application, I like to say, where you’re applying your products, your face goes from cleavage to ground. Like really when you’re looking at protecting yourself, you want to make sure that you get good coverage. And this picture is such a good case for that as well as the benefits of daily protection.

Monique Ramsey (06:24):
Okay, so after today’s conversation, after you listen to this whole episode, we hope nobody’s going to have any excuses left for not applying sunscreen. So let’s get into it. The first dumb reason that we don’t use enough sunscreen is that maybe we’re trying to save money. And so if it’s too expensive, is that a good excuse or not? If you get the sunscreen from CVS or Target, even the good stuff is kind of pricey. And so some people maybe want to use it sparingly and just to sort of save money figuring okay it can be a little bit thinner or whatever. So smack it down for me, Alisha. You know, why is this a dumb reason

Alisha Merlo (07:07):
I’m going to blow your audience’s mind right now because I don’t think many people are aware. Sunscreen is an over-the-counter drug. So just like Advil and Tylenol, we’ll use that comparison. It’s managed and regulated as an over-the-counter drug. So the FDA has some say in what comes to market and who can say and claim that they provide SPF protection, UVA, UVB, or broad spectrum. So let’s say you are in pain or you have a headache and you grab for that Advil and it says Take two and you take one. What are your expectations? Are you going to really get the relief that you need? Same thing with your sum protection. You should be using the appropriate amount as recommended by your skin professional or that you’re going to learn from us today to be able to get the complete effect. And let’s just say you’re worried about spending money. Think about the money that you’ll be spending if you have accelerated agent due to photo damage or god forbid, skin cancer. So you’re, you’re actually have an investment upfront in getting the products that are going to give you the best protection. And like any other medication, you want to use it as directed so that you can get the optimal results.

Monique Ramsey (08:17):
Okay, now here’s my big excuse. So if I already put my makeup on and I don’t want to wreck it and they’re saying reapply every 45 minutes, well I’m not going to reapply it on my face. So I’m like hoping that that SPF that might be in my makeup will do it for me because I don’t want to put more sunscreen on top and ruin everything. So what can I do about this or people in the audience who have the same thought process as I do?

Alisha Merlo (08:44):
This is where Colorescience really was born a few decades ago in innovating in a space where there was an unmet need. We know that sun protection the number doesn’t mean you have higher protection or longer protection. That SPF number, that number just reflects the actual protection or amount of energy that you’re diffusing and it fades over time. And so what you want to do is reapply and we look at it as a layered protection approach. So you’re going to put your first layer, which should be a designated sunscreen and we’ll talk about how you can actually find sunscreens that are cosmetically elegant. You don’t have to use the ones in your moisturizers. We actually look at having something dedicated and fully committed to protecting your skin. Not just a little dash of you know, ingredients to protect it. But then if you are of the kind of person that doesn’t want to apply that liquid all over again, we innovated about 20 years ago and created actually a powder form.

And I brought this here because this is what we’re famous for and this is the one that you just mentioned for us as award-winning. But now I call this no excuses. So you can actually just use this as a brush. I’m hoping you can see that poof. See that mineral coming out right and dust right on top of your makeup and it’s not going to disrupt it. And there is a specific amount to passes around the face and you’re going to get the protection, the reapplication and you can actually go about your day looking undisrupted but being fully protected.

Monique Ramsey (10:14):
And you know what else is interesting that somebody brought up to me recently? Janelle who works in our office, she was saying it’s great for little kids and it’s great for like on top of your head, like if you’re balding or your hair’s thinning, you know men and women out there have thinning hair over time. So do you find that it’s a good place for application as well?

Alisha Merlo (10:37):
Yes, the powder is ideal for those places because a lotion can disrupt your hair or feel greasy. The same with the spray. A powder actually can go on and there’s a variety of shades that you can select that can actually protect your scalp and you would just dust it on your part line, right? Just like you normally would, especially our fair-haired friends like yourself or those who might be, you know, kind of not having the same volume of hair that they normally have had. And then children, it makes it so easy, kids run away screaming when you pull out the bottle of sunscreen or the spray. So this makes it fun. And I once had a doctor I worked with saying that she would tell parents, tell your children this is their superpower dust and they have to replenish their superpowers every two hours. And I thought that was brilliant because then the kids were like, oh my goodness and sunscreen is safe to use on children six months and older. So my grandkids, I have two of them have been having their own brush and know how to apply it since they were little.

Monique Ramsey (11:34):
That’s great. I love that. Making it fun for kids and it’s not like a chore and it’s, I mean everybody I want superpowers, I’ll take it . And so that’s the total protection is that, that’s what it’s called, right? And

Alisha Merlo (11:48):
Yeah, so total protection brush on shield, the whole family or collection we call total protection.

Monique Ramsey (11:54):
Okay. And it has different finishes and tone adapting or you know, you can kind of get close to the skin tone that you are, right?

Alisha Merlo (12:03):

Monique Ramsey (12:05):
Okay. And then another excuse that I hear is that people go, oh well I’m really concerned about ingredients because I have sensitive skin or if I’m lathering it all over my body, that’s a lot of chemicals and is that toxic? So why are minerals the most important ingredients and how can we smack down that excuse?

Alisha Merlo (12:29):
So there are two groups of some protection filters. So you have the all physical, all mineral that is zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Okay? That’s the ones we’re talking about. Everything else that you might see on the back of that bottle in the drug fax box on the packaging is going to be a chemical filter. They both protect your skin. So I’m not going to like bash people but with minerals, what is nice is the FDA recognizes the safety of it has given zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. The only GRASE rating, which means it’s generally recognized as safe and effective. So if you have something that is going to provide that kind of level of safety, and we know it’s natural, right? It comes from the earth, these are minerals, right? They start off at rocks in the earth, then why wouldn’t we want to use something like that?

So the FDA agrees that it is the only sunscreen filters that are recognized as safe and effective even though the other ones still can be used. They’re still approved. I’m not going to say they’re not and it’s better to wear something versus nothing but minerals work. Well the other belief is that there’s this school of thought that has come about over the last few years is that chemical filters have been damaging the coral reefs. So there are about seven places in the world that have banned select chemical filters. And that is because they are areas that we go for destination locations that have reefs like Hawaii and Palau and the keys, some parts of Mexico. So they are concerned and they’re still looking into it and doing more research. So it’s like it’s safe for your skin, it’s safe for the environment. So really these are very compelling reasons and our CEO Mary Fisher who is just amazing and wonderful, she says we’ve had minerals for a long time.

The issue that people have had in the past with minerals is that you can see it, right? They’re thinking of the lifeguard with the white nose, right? Yeah. Right. So it’s not cosmetically appealing and if no matter how good something is, if you don’t want to put it on, then it’s not doing you any good. So I think that we have advanced so far in mineral protection to make it wearable, right? That people want to wear it and that helps ’em to be able to put that on every day as a mineral.

Monique Ramsey (14:44):
And something I remember learning about the Colorescience powder is that it’s all mineral, right? And it doesn’t ever degrade or expire or if you leave it in your hot car, it’s not going to boil and be less effective. Is that, is that right?

Alisha Merlo (15:02):
So the the powders are great for that reason. So we look at expiration dates are important and I could do a whole other podcast on like how that’s evaluated because when a product is newly evaluated, there is a expiration date because you have to do long-term stability testing. But once that expiration date is actually gone past, you can remove it. But the general guideline is you should actually replace it two years after you’ve opened it. And my take on that is well if you’re not using it, you’re not, you’re going to still have some left after two years . So you’re doing, you’re not using it up if you haven’t used it for two years, but it will be spotto stable as far as the heat in your car. But sticks and lotions can be heated up, right? because they’re a different type of format. But the powder, a lot of people love that they’ll keep it in their golf bag or their beach bag and in the area of keeping one of these brushes in the cars at all time and you won’t run into what your concerns are that you mentioned Monique.

Monique Ramsey (15:58):
Yeah, exactly. So the minerals, again, I would want to make sure everybody knows. So the minerals to look for, you said the zinc oxide, titanium

Alisha Merlo (16:07):
Titanium dioxide.

Monique Ramsey (16:09):
Yes. Okay. And then I have here in my show notes about iron oxide. Yes. So what are those?

Alisha Merlo (16:15):
So let’s talk about those. Those are another form of minerals. They’re not providing SPF protection, let’s just say that. So that’s going to be your zinc oxide and your titanium dioxide together give you broad spectrum protection against UVA rays and UVB rays. But then further along the line in the light spectrum is what we call high energy visible light. A lot of people have been talking about, I don’t know if you’ve had this in any of your communication, you’re so good about educating people who follow you on blue light and that’s a bit a hot topic especially since we’ve, you know, been so much in front of screens. Right? So blue light is emitted from our devices because it’s visible light from our lights above our head and also we get it from the sun. Well what protect us effectively from blue light is zinc can help a little bit of the range of the blue light but iron oxides, which are basically natural compounds that only come in three colors, red, yellow, and black. But they actually effectively cover the full range or full bandwidth of the HEV blue light protection. So it’s therapeutic, right? It protects you against and shields you against this. But it also is how you can make different shades and the color varieties and that’s how we use it. We call it pigments with purpose.

Monique Ramsey (17:27):
Oh okay. So if the pigment is sort of a tan color, let’s say it’s because it has that iron oxide in it,

Alisha Merlo (17:36):
Yeah it could be tan, it could be bronze, it could be a color bomb that looks like a, a different golden shade or a berry shade. But we will use iron oxides not dyes or colorants. And so yes you get the protection but you also get the fun ability to have either match or enhance your skin tone.

Monique Ramsey (17:57):
Now are there drugstore brands that also meet sort of the qualifications of what people should look for?

Alisha Merlo (18:03):
I think when you’re looking into a drugstore brand there are going to be a few that that people will say that they use. So always look at the drug fax box, right? So you’ll know if it’s mineral or chemical or hybrid. Sometimes they’ll put some zinc in there and some of those other long name chemicals in there. But if you’re looking for all mineral brands, what we see in the kind of grab and go drug store Blue Lizard has been one that people have really enjoyed and loved. La Roche Posay from L’Oreal is something that we hear also people will use again look and see what the ingredients are. and even CeraVe has brought out some all minerals. We’ve only all used all minerals. And it’s so funny because over the last few years you’ve probably seen this because you are so on top of this. More companies, even if they had only chemicals, have moved to saying, “oh we see there’s a demand.” People, we want minerals if the search, the Google search trends are really high for people seeking mineral sunscreen. So there is that consumer demand where people are more aware and that’s what they’re seeking. So that’s why there’s more availability.

Monique Ramsey (19:03):
Well I think like personally and because I’m just such a San Diego, crazy , the native, you know, two generations of San Diegans and now my kids, that makes three. So when I see a San Diego company, I just love to support San Diego companies. And so like if it’s like well between, you know, company A and Colorescience or Alastin or some of the local companies, it’s like okay, let’s let’s support them because it’s great products and you’re supporting somebody local. So that’s just my, that’s my SmackDown for people.

Alisha Merlo (19:36):
Who have have local pride. I love it . And we appreciate that. And I would love to add to, we appreciate our partners here local in the community that help us amplify the message about protecting skin health. I mean, you are so fantastic, you and your team about making sure people are educated and informed and in the research, I don’t know if you’ve seen this, this has been in, you know, new beauty magazine and the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery and even in our own surveys, the top two things people are looking for before purchasing a product are going to be safety and efficacy. Does it work? Right? And professional recommendation coming from your team for example, they’re going to listen to you, they’re seeking you out. And so it means so much to us, Monique, that you consider us not just a brand that you you love locally, but also that you trust us because of those other things.

Monique Ramsey (20:26):
Right? And we are really good about vetting the products that we have. And we had some sunscreen, I don’t know, five or six years ago that we carried and it was a spray on mineral. It was awful. We got burned. I mean we all were so excited. We take it to the beach, we’re all trying different varieties of the the ones that they gave us to, you know, who were like, oh great, we’re going to put our logo on. It’s great. Burned, burned, burned. And it didn’t smooth on nicely. Nothing, you know, it was just like, okay, forget it. , we’re sticking with the tried and true. So we do try all the things that we bring in and, and make sure that we’re not going to be selling something because there is some investment involved. And like you said, that’s a worthwhile investment to have, especially if you’re, you know, having other procedures. Like let’s not make the aging process speed up when we’re trying to slow them, slow it down with Botox and other things.

Alisha Merlo (21:22):
Well it’s kind of like, would you go to the dentist and not brush your teeth the rest of the year? Right? They’re going to come to you for rejuvenation, helping them achieve their skin dreams. Yeah. And then they go out and they don’t protect that investment. So, so I think that that’s such a responsibility.

Monique Ramsey (21:36):
Yeah. And we talked about it last night at my book club. We were talking about Botox and, and I said, I’m like, I’m addicted, okay. And they’re like, yeah but you have to keep it up. And I’m like, yeah, , you do just like working out and just like going to the dentist is and just like coloring your hair if that’s what you do, you know? Yeah, you do have to keep it up. But if it works. And same with with the sunscreen. And then one more thing I was thinking when you were talking about the reef safe. So I remember hearing about that when I was in Hawaii when my kids were little. So this is a long time ago and I had never heard about that and they educated me about it and it was like, oh, but then you’re thinking, okay, not only do I not want to hurt the fish and kill the reefs, but like if it’s going to kill the reefs, what’s it doing to me or my kids? You know, that’s kind of scary. You have to kind of wonder why is that?

Alisha Merlo (22:26):
Yeah. And I’m always like careful on how I respond to this because again, we don’t want people not to use sunscreen and a lot of dermatologists will say the best sunscreen is the one you will wear every day. But what we do to make that decision very easy and the recommendation easy for you is just create products that are wearable, that are beautiful but that come in every form and fashion of skin tone and format. And that’s where you can feel comfortable. So you don’t have to make that choice between am I going to look like the lifeguard or am I going to look good? And you know, I might not be doing the best thing for the environment. So I think it’s, it’s responsible for us to be able to have those considerations, but when you have choices and the choices can be made easy for you and you have experts like yourselves that have already vetted it, as you’ve said, I think that that creates for a really kind of easy transition in what you’re going to go for that you’re going to put on yourself and your family.

Monique Ramsey (23:19):
Okay, one more thing about, back to the hair and the thinning hair and the, so powder’s one thing, but what about like hats? Can you talk to us a little bit about Oh yeah. Like I have, I had my funny hat on when I got here.

Alisha Merlo (23:32):
I love that hat.

Monique Ramsey (23:33):
I do too. And , I just got it recently so I’m glad you do. Didn’t look great with the headphones but it’s okay. But like I have a ca a hat, a navy hat that’s about the same size and shape that I got years ago from Coolibar and it’s like an SPF but it’s a beautiful hat and people go, oh that hat looks so great. I’m like, and it’s protecting my face and my neck. Yes. And so tell us about hats.

Alisha Merlo (23:56):
Yes. So I love the hat conversation because most of us wear this kind of hat at the beach, right? We’re going to wear the baseball cap because it’s easy, it’s cute, everybody loves a trucker hat. But when you put it on, what’s really only being shielded is like from your eyes and above, the sun is coming at you from the sides, right from the back down here to, you know, the, the front angle of your neck. So from a protection perspective, you’re absolutely right. That wider brim, those nice cooley bar ones. I brought another one of my favorite ones. So you see this a lot on the beach with us. Yeah. You see this kinda hat?

Monique Ramsey (24:31):
Oh yeah, the kind of lifeguard straw.

Alisha Merlo (24:33):
Right? So, so this one’s fun because it’s got a little print underneath it, but look at that brim, it’s, you’re looking at a good six inches of coverage. So when I put that on you, you are absolutely right. I’m covered extended amount doesn’t forego my sunscreen. And then you have the UPF material, the textiles that have been formulated, that could be in your hat or it could be in your swimsuit that’s going to protect you from the raise. So, so the technology has advanced so much in textiles, right? For fabrics and materials that can compliment what we’re putting directly on our skin to protect our bodies.

Monique Ramsey (25:12):
Yeah. And it’s, I think having that hat, and I remember a long time ago they used me as a demo patient to get the co2 or it was the CO2 laser, but it was the Fraxel, right? And I was like about to go to Hawaii and I’m like, you know, should I be doing this? And and the lady, we had a visiting student with us and so they had been teaching her and she’s like, oh yeah, it’ll be fine. Like are you sure? Because she’s like, well wear a hat and wear your sunscreen. Well I did wear my hat and I did wear my sunscreen, but in the water you get all that reflection so you have a hat, you can think, okay, I’m being protected from the top, but you’re also getting, if you’re on the water a lot, that reflection up into your face. And so anyway I

Alisha Merlo (25:59):
That’s where the reapplication is key,

Monique Ramsey (26:01):
Right? Right, yes.

Alisha Merlo (26:02):
And your water and when you’re on the snow and your elevation and the snow even, I mean even the sun can reflect off the sand. So that’s where you can be diligent, making sure you’re putting the right amount on. They say a shot glass for your total body and three fingers, lengths of sunscreen for your face and neck are wow. Appropriate amount for your first application. And then you look at, is it water resistant? I love that you brought up the water. Sunscreens actually have to be approved by an FDA standardized test to be water and sweat resistant either 40 minutes or 80 minutes. So if you love going in the water, make sure you’re wearing a water resistant. There’s no such thing as waterproof water resistant protection product. And then we just said earlier, reapply every two hours is the recommendation from the Skin Cancer Foundation and the, and our FDA. However, if you are swimming or if you are sweating like you’re hiking and you just gotta sweat and you’re vigorously exercising outside, reapply when you dry off sooner than every two hours because that way you’ll have that added protection. So those are kind of some unknown tips I think that will help people when they’re enjoying the beautiful outdoors in our wonderful oceans. Whether it’s here in San Diego now that things are finally warming up or in something like some place like Hawaii.

Monique Ramsey (27:18):
Yeah, yeah. So our last and maybe dumbest reason that we’re going to smack down is I just want to have a tan. I like myself when I look tan, so we’re kids of the eighties, we, you know, some of our, I never did, but some people went to tanning beds. We used baby oil. What was that stuff? The sun spray you’d put in your hair to get the highlights.

Alisha Merlo (27:43):
Oh oh I know exactly. It was like, it was like hydrogen peroxide, sun-in.

Monique Ramsey (27:50):
Sun-in, yeah.

Alisha Merlo (27:51):
It’s called sun-in

Monique Ramsey (27:51):
In like there was all those things. It was like you were saying yes, I need more sun, I want to s be on the foil thing. Roof reflection. There was people who had like foil blankets so they’d have more reflection , it was all about more. So now we’re saying, okay, we don’t want to get a great tan. So what kinds of, do you remember any dumb things you did?

Alisha Merlo (28:12):
Oh, I did all those things . I grew up on the Jersey Shore, so I grew up on the east coast and we only had so many months of sunshine, right? So as soon as it hit 65 degrees we were in shorts and laying out the sun sends of my youth. And so I would lay out with baby oil tinfoil on my double album, cover the oven timer on every 30 minutes. So I would turn over and then as I got older and tanning beds came out, I was in the tanning beds. And I think those are some things that people still, especially young people, because when we’re young we don’t think ahead. We’re not forward thinking, but your skin never forgets. And I think that’s important. So if you have done things in the past, the most important thing you can do is get skin checks, right?

Annually you should be doing that as a, as a young adult and into your adulthood. It’s like going to the dentist, right? Twice a year to make sure there’s nothing that is coming back to haunt you if you have the sun sins of your life like I have. And then if you want the tan, you can use products that offer that or deliver that payoff. Like we have a product that has a bronze where you can look like so you’re sun kissed, but you’re not sunkissed. What I would share with your audience, and I hope you’re okay if I can be extremely transparent about my own experience as you asked, I just shared how bad I was. I didn’t start taking care of my skin and really being adamant about protective until I turned 30. I didn’t know that’s when I got into this business.

So 24 years ago, so I was 30, you do the math, 24 years ago. I’m in my fifth decade and I get my annual skin checks and I protect myself and do all the things we’re sharing with you now. And so unfortunately I just have been diagnosed with skin cancer. I have basal cell cancer it’s called basal cell carcinoma. It is one of the most common forms of skin cancer. The most common out of the three ones we know about including melanoma. It’s not a melanoma, thank goodness it was detected early and it can be surgically removed. So I share that, not to scare people, but to know that it’s so important, even if you’ve made mistakes in the past with your sun exposure, that you should be getting checked regularly and it’s never too late to change and have healthy habits to protect your skin.

Monique Ramsey (30:24):
Well gosh, I didn’t realize, but I love the way you phrased that, that you know, there’s a memory that sun damage, just because it’s been 40 years since you laid out in with the baby oil, doesn’t mean that your skin has forgotten the damage. And I’ve never looked, looked at it that way, but it makes a lot of sense.

Alisha Merlo (30:49):
Yeah, it is. It’s just like aging, right? The skin cells, you know, DNA they have memories to reproduce and what the sun does over prolonged exposure is just kind of damages that DNA. So it takes sometimes decades to come up. What we do see, which is a little bit more concerning, and I’m sure you’ve seen this, but the AAD has done some research as with the younger generations and AAD stands for American Academy of Dermatology. so they are kind of a governing authority over a lot of these things, especially skin cancer. That’s their wheelhouse, what they look at to protect. Young people, Gen Z, want to be tan like you talked about, right? But they actually do not believe, and they still think like you did, that it’s healthy and it’s a base tan. And they don’t realize that 70, I think it’s 71% of them don’t realize that if you have one serious sunburn, you’ve just opened the door to skin cancer late in life. So, so I think the young generation, which I think you have a great audience of young people who are more informed and more aware. So we’re doing you guys a service to say youth is on your side right now. So take advantage of it and treasure it and protect it the way that you, that you can with all these resources that we’re talking about today.

Monique Ramsey (32:06):
Yeah. And so what are sort of the, so the, the risks associated with a sunburn?

Alisha Merlo (32:15):
Well, so a sunburn is by the time your skin is burnt, right, the damage is done because within those exposures and those rays, right? So, so the DNA of your skin cells are damaged, you have the initial right, the red, the heat, then the skin peels off and you know, some people have very bad blistering sunburns, right? So, so those are the ones that are associated with later melanoma in life. And they have even said, you know, that you can have, you know, one serious sunburn and increase your risk for melanoma. I can tell you I’ve had many sunburns in my life. And also it’s important to know that no matter what your skin tone is, you can look at me, I’m a little bit more melanin rich than you are Monique, right? And then, then it goes down to the spectrum of very melanin rich skin tones. Everybody is at risk because you have natural melanin and it kind of, people think that’s a natural SPF it’ll protect you, but very minimally. And so even those with deeper darker skin tones are at risk for skin cancer and melanoma and can still be sunburned. It might not manifest in the way you might see somebody like myself or Monique, but you’re still damaging the skin at the cellular level that can change and become a skin cancer later.

Monique Ramsey (33:31):
And of course the premature aging that you talked about, I mean if it, whatever’s going to like make you do it, whatever the reason, whether you’re just trying to protect that investment of, you know, all the time and money you spend on looking great and looking younger than your age. So was your skin cancer found during the check that you had? Yes. So it wasn’t something you, you saw, like was it in a place where you would’ve been able to see it yourself?

Alisha Merlo (34:00):
I wouldn’t have been able to see it. It’s in my upper chest. I have not had the surgery yet. This is okay. I know that I, this might timestamp this for you, but I’m a week out from having that diagnosis and so I will be having the surgery, which is just an excision. So going for my skin check, I have a lot of kind of spots. Again, my skin is old and so I keep an eye on certain things, but this one was on my chest and it didn’t appear as a dark spot. It actually appeared as kind of a shiny pink spot, like a little raised bump. But the dermatologist’s office, they’re trained to see these things. So they were able, it was so tiny and they did a little numbing, took a little sample of that. It was painless, you guys, it’s, it did not hurt.

And then just send it off to the lab. So it was a very easy process to go through. I know it sounds scary when we hear the big C word, but one of the great things about going to see your dermatologist and skin cancer, it’s the only cancer that is visible. You can see it. And so that’s why it’s so important. So it was just something I had not noticed, but now I kind of have an idea of what to look for when I’m checking myself. Not just the dark spots, which I’ve been pretty good about, but looking at something that might be a little off that, you know, doesn’t seem normal. And it was tiny. It was like, you know, smaller than a pencil eraser. It was super small.

Monique Ramsey (35:17):
Oh my gosh. Wow. Well that’s good to know. And I, you know, it’s funny because we’re so lucky in our country to have really great healthcare and especially in San Diego, there’s so many wonderful healthcare providers and groups. But I can tell you, Alisha, the last time I had a skincare check I, I haven’t had one in and none of my doctors have ever brought it up and I didn’t even think about it till you said it today. So that’s a great thing that all of us should go out. You know, there was like a good PR push for everybody to get their mammograms, you know, and they did a lot of educational on that over the last 30 years. But really going in for the dermatology skin cancer check I think is a really important thing. So I’m going to do that now that you’ve, you’ve motivated me. Oh yeah, no, nobody’s even brought it up. I didn’t even think about it. You know, I think, yeah,

Alisha Merlo (36:07):
You know, even starting at a young age, right? When you’re 18, right? Depending on, we live by the beautiful beach. So if you have a lifestyle that puts you outside more, there’s no harm. You get your teeth clean, you know, once, maybe twice a year hopefully. Right? Same thing along those same lines, your mammogram, it’s just part of your regular health and wellness. And can I give a plug to an organization that does a great job to research this too? Absolutely. So the Skin Cancer Foundation is the global authority on all things skin cancer. And they have incredible resources. And I would encourage those who want to learn more to go to skin cancer.org plan as day best URL you could ever get and you can find out more information. They are a company that is an organization nonprofit that is dedicated to helping share what I’m sharing with you and work with doctors from all around the world and experts to make sure that everyone’s equipped and empowered to protect their skin from products that you put on your skin to clothing, to window tinting in your car. I mean they, they have so many resources that you can learn from.

Monique Ramsey (37:10):
And then before we wrap up, I want to recap both what to look for in the sun protection and how to do it right. So we’ll start to, what to look for. Remind us what things you want us to look for when we’re purchasing our, our skincare.

Alisha Merlo (37:25):
Okay, so for sunscreen, always look on the back of the outer packaging, right? The box it comes in and look at the drug facts on the back and it will tell you what the active ingredients are. The mineral sunscreens will say zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or both. Okay, so that’s important, right? Look at the, make sure that that’s actually a sunscreen, that drug facts box will be there. We talked about the importance and difference of minerals. So that’s number one. Number two, make sure it says broad spectrum. So broad spectrum means that you’re going to get UVA and UVB protection, okay? Your SPF as recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation, the FDA, ideally a 30 year higher, we typically only make 50 because we want to provide as much protection as we can. When you see products that have like SPF a hundred, and I laugh with that because you flip it over, it’s gotta have like six chemicals to try to even achieve that. So if you’re, yeah, looking for something that’s in the mineral base, you know, 30 or higher is great, the iron oxides are fantastic. the water and sweat resistance, right? To make sure that you have your products that if you’re going to be in the water or exercising or sweating that you’ll have some protection. You’ll always reapply that as well. And then there’s another rating that’s interesting that people are just starting to pay attention to and it’s called the PA rating. Have you heard of this yet?

Monique Ramsey (38:45):

Alisha Merlo (38:46):
So the PA rating actually is this rating scale that came out from our friends in Japan and Asia has a lot of innovations in sun care. They are like really sun savvy over there. But this is a measurement of UVA protection and it’s a scale that goes from one plus PA plus to PA quad plus with four pluses and it goes, that goes from some UVA protection all the way to the best. So when you look on the label of your bottle, it can say if it says PA plus plus plus or PA quad plus with four pluses, that’s going to be meaning that it’s tested actually for really good UVA protection.

Monique Ramsey (39:23):
And will you remind us, because I don’t know if I even remember the difference between UVA and UVB?

Alisha Merlo (39:31):
Yes. So along the solar spectrum there are different wavelengths and so we’re looking at what is exposing or hitting our skin. UVB is the rays that have the highest amount of energy but the least amount of penetration into the skin. This is what’s responsible for our sunburns. A lot of people remember UVB the burning rays, right? Uhhuh. So that’s whats SPF protects you from. UVA goes a little bit deeper into the skin. People will refer to them as the aging raise, right? So those are the rays that come right after on the spectrum to UVB. So when you get broad spectrum, you’re getting coverage from both the A and the B. And that again is an FDA requirement on your product to prove that before you can put it on the box.

Monique Ramsey (40:16):
Okay? And then remind us how to do it right? Applying like do you do it?

Can I show you?

Oh yeah, let’s do it.

Alisha Merlo (40:25):
Okay. So I brought, I love show and tell. Okay, so you do want to apply your products before you go out the first layer of protection, right? Then you’ll reapply when you’re out and about. But that first layer of protection, what we found is people, you know if you tell somebody put an ounce on your face or three grams on your face, people are like, what is that? So our friends in dermatology have really found a great way to look at measuring what we would call for your face and neck. Three fingers. So I’m going to take, this is our brand new product. This is called no show. This is actually an invisible all mineral sun protection. And I’m using this one because you’ll be able to see at my fingers and I’m going to put it on my fingers and then I’m going to hold it up three fingers. Ah, there you go. Ah, okay. That’s enough for my face and neck. And then what I would do is I would just distribute it, I would put it, pat it all over and then rub it in because it’s white when it goes on. But when you put it on your skin it actually just

Monique Ramsey (41:19):
Oh, disappears.

Alisha Merlo (41:20):
Yeah. So you don’t look like the lifeguard. Yeah. And this actually works on all skin tones. This just launched this year so that now anybody, whether you’re fair like you, you’ve got beautiful fair skin or really melanin rich skin can, can wear all mineral sunscreen without having to worry about that white cast that people don’t like, three finders.

Monique Ramsey (41:37):
I’m going to blow your mind because I’m going to show you my, I do get actually kind of tan, but I do keep my face out of it. But I just got back from some vacation and I did get a little sun but I, every day I was wearing, I was wearing my SPF but yeah, I brown up pretty nicely but it’s now I want to like how do I keep that without more sun? I’ll just use the spray tan or something. The bottle version. .

Alisha Merlo (42:03):
Yeah. And what I like about putting it on your arms, if you think about like look at me, I’m wearing a sleeveless where it’s summer, everybody’s out in sleeveless, but you’re driving in your car. My son is coming through this side so, and this arm is exposed. So putting sunscreen on your arms or your exposed area other than your face is kind of another little life hack that you can help. Because I don’t know if you do a lot of hand treatments here, do do people come in and ask for hand rejuvenation? It seems to be popular.

Monique Ramsey (42:28):
We do. We do some Yeah. With Radiesse or with BBL of the hands. Yeah.

Alisha Merlo (42:33):
So protecting that investment if you’ve invested in those treatments or protecting and preventing right, by using your sunscreens on your arms and hands is another. And the powders are good for your hands too. If you don’t want to, you know, use a lotion, you can put your powder on your hand too.

Monique Ramsey (42:48):
Do you recommend that they put like if I would be going out to the sun, am I going to put on my sunscreen at home or like when I get to the beach so I can maximize how long I’ve got to use for the two hours before I reapply?

Alisha Merlo (43:04):
Well whether you’re using mineral or non mineral chemical filters, you want to put it on before you’re outside that first layer of protection minerals tend to have a very fast mechanism of action because they, they work by more reflection. There’s a little bit of absorption, but more reflection, right? It kind of creates a reflective to push the rays back out. Chemical filters actually work by absorbing the race. So they have to go into the skin. So oftentimes you’ll hear the recommendation, you know, 20 minutes before you go outside. I think before you go outside you should put it on. But for our mineral protection you don’t, it’s not a requirement that you have to wait for it to start working. But for the chemical filters, that is the recommendation.

Monique Ramsey (43:43):
Got it. Okay. So when we’re going to put it on using the right amount with the three fingers reapplying every two hours, especially if you’re in the water, what else can we do to kind of be doing it right?

Alisha Merlo (43:56):
So we want to make sure we can supplement our products, our sunscreen products we put on our face and our body with the hats we talked about the right hats. There are so many cute versions of hats. Now if, if you’re worried about fashion, I can tell you you can go on Amazon or go into a local store or a surf shop. Even Target I think has UPF hats and clothing right? To protect yourselves. And now the clothing is cute. I mean this is a bathing suit like it looks like, you know, a little mermaid. But it really is something that can be fashionable. To protect yourself. I think that’s important. And then the hours to kind of seek shade and not be in direct sun, if you can avoid them, are typically between 10 and two. And everybody’s like, well I want to spend the whole day at the beach. Well bring a pop up. Right? You can create your own shade if you can’t seek it. Right, right, true. So that you can come out of the sun.

Monique Ramsey (44:43):
True. Yeah. Yeah, that’s a really good point. All right, well Alisha, this was so much fun and you know, before I head to Cabo later this summer, I’m going to have to come get stocked up with all my sun protection from Colorescience and you guys, so I, and I’m very naive to this because I, I know about all the face things, but do you also have any body products?

Alisha Merlo (45:04):
Yeah, we do. We have a body shield, which is an all mineral SPF 50 and it’s got the PA tri plus that you’ve got on there too for the protection and water resistant as well. So you can put this on your body, but I sometimes, I’ll be honest with you, it it has a different feel because it’s more like a body lotion. It’s not a sticky body sunscreen. Sometimes those over the counter ones are, we formulated it to be elegant. But let’s just say I want, you know, to have that little golden bronze look. I’ll use sometimes a face shield. There’s no reason why I couldn’t put a bronze face shield on my body to look sunkissed without having a sun, you know, or make it look not look like, you know, I look like the blinding white person on the beach. So, so that’s what’s so fun now and our vice president of research and development says you can wardrobe your protection with all these different options that we have available for you. But yes, face and body, all of these products can be used on, but we did create, to answer your question, a specific body.

Monique Ramsey (46:01):
Wonderful. That’s so great. And I love the powder thing. I’m all about it and having it with me in the purse, in the car. And it’s funny because there’s, and we’ll find it for the show notes, but I remember seeing this picture and it was of a truck driver and when you were talking about your arm that’s on the window side, and there was a truck driver who n never used any sun protection. You can google like truck driver aging skin or something. And literally the half of his face that was by the window was just kind of like that image we saw earlier of the lady with her neck. And you know, it was like all aged sun damaged, very, very wrinkle, lots of spots. And the other half of his face was looking pretty good. And it’s crazy that it’s not just when you’re in the beach, at the beach or it’s not just when you’re on a hike, it’s all the time because you’re going to get that sun. And so protection is crazy important.

Alisha Merlo (46:59):
And even in the cloudy days too true, you can still get sun through the cloud. So that’s another thing that you want to protect. And I just want to go back to what you said about that woman with the neck. I mean, she’s 90 some, 92 years old. Uhhuh . so she had a lot of life behind her. And if you’re 92 and you wanted your face to look and your body to look as good as what her face did, I mean, what did she do? That whole study was she took care of her skin and applied it. And just like you take care of your teeth, you brush your teeth every day before you leave the house, get in the same habit, put on your sunscreen before you leave the house and reapply when you need to.

Monique Ramsey (47:34):
Yeah, it’s gotta be like a habitual thing, but also for our kids needs to be one of those things. We just do it. You just do it. We’re not going to complain about it. We’re not going to have a tantrum about it. We just do it. And my kids, because I just set that expectation. It was like, no, this is what we do. Oh, okay. You know, and they’d want to run, but they knew it was like, we’re not doing anything unless the mom finishes this task of putting it all over us. And you know, and I think for the, the kids that have the hats and they have the little rash guards that have the, the sun protection, I think all of that’s really important too. So remembering our little people all at the same time. So thanks for joining and thanks for sharing the bad news you got. But it’s something we all have to know. It’s a reality. It’s not like something that happens to someone else. It’s can happen to people, you know, and treating, preventing doing this. The, the checks that’s really brave of you and transparent obviously, but very brave of you to share with us. And I thank you for that. That was really nice.

Alisha Merlo (48:35):
Monique, thank you for having me. Thank you for starting this conversation for your audience. Thank you for providing just expert advice so that they can come to you and get the recommendations they need to protect their skin and also to rejuvenate their skin and then to protect what they’ve done with you as far as an investment. I think you have been, La Jolla Cosmetic Surgery has been a leader in our community for a long time. And you continue to lead, you continue to innovate and it does mean on behalf of our entire local company for you, local global company, we thank you and love coming alongside you and your team making a difference.

Monique Ramsey (49:10):
Well, I appreciate you being here. That’s really special. And especially to have somebody who, this is what you do and what you know, and we’re not guessing at what’s the right thing you’re telling us exactly. And, and the studies behind it. And we’re going to have everything in the show notes w we talked about today, all the links so you can go check out some of the studies or learn about some of the terminology we use today in the products. So thanks again for joining us and please if you have any questions, let us know. You know, you can go to glamfam.com, it’s or ljcsc.com and ask away on our social media or on our website, fill out a contact form and we’ll get right back to you. So thanks again.

Speaker 3 (49:58):
Take a screenshot of this podcast episode with your phone and show it at your consultation or appointment or mention the promo code podcast to receive $25 off any service or product of $50 or more at La Jolla Cosmetic. La Jolla Cosmetic is located just off the I five San Diego Freeway in the XiMed building on the Scripps Memorial Hospital campus. To learn more, go to ljcsc.com or follow the team on Instagram @LJCSC. The La Jolla Cosmetic Podcast is a production of The Axis.