Behind the brand: Talking to FaceWorks' Dr. Teresa Cattin about the importance of sun protection

Whenever I’ve asked beauty experts – be they dermatologists, makeup artists or cosmetic surgeons – for their pick when it comes to anti-ageing skincare, they all agree that the most important thing you can do to keep your skin looking good well into old age is wear a sunscreen. Daily. No arguments, no forgetting on a cloudy day, no saying, “my olive complexion is a sunblock in itself”! UVA rays break down collagen and elastin, causing wrinkles, so it is vital to wear a high-performance sunscreen all year round, rain or shine, if you’re serious about great skin. Most last twelve months max after being opened too, so if you’re still got some sitting around in your beach bag or glove box from this time last year then chuck it - ASAP!
And if you don’t believe me, ask an expert - like top Auckland cosmetic physician and creator of the FaceWorks skincare brand, Dr Teresa Cattin. Teresa has formulated her own sun-blocking primer and has a wealth of knowledge to share when it comes to what to look for – and avoid – in your chosen formula.
How much do you know about what’s hidden in the ingredients list of your cosmetics and sunscreens?" There is a growing concern about what’s in our cosmetics and sunscreens, and rightly so,” says Teresa. “Products that have been commonly used for many years may be damaging our health and negatively impacting on the environment.”
So what should you avoid and why? “Endocrine disruptors are top of mind," says the doctor. "Our endocrine glands include the thyroid, pituitary, parathyroid and adrenal glands as well as the pancreas, ovaries, testes, and hypothalamus. These glands have many different, complex functions but all are vital for our health and reproduction. Chemicals that disrupt the functioning of any of our endocrine glands are known as ‘endocrine disruptors’”. A recent report by WHO describes an association with infertility and reproductive problems in both men and women, increased incidence of breast cancer, thyroid cancer and prostate cancer, abnormal growth patterns and neurodevelopmental delays in children, as well as changes in immune function. To say it's a no-brainer to avoid them is a given, but what are they?


PABA (para-amino benzoic acid)
This chemical inhibits the functioning of our thyroid gland as well as increasing skin photosensitivity. It has been found to have the potential to cause cancer in animal studies. Canada and the EU have both banned it.

Parabens, which are types of preservatives, were first introduced in the 1950s. They’re used to prolong shelf life in many health and beauty products by preventing the growth of mould and bacteria. In 2004, a British study found traces of five parabens in the breast tissue of 19 out of 20 women studied. The study didn’t prove that parabens can cause cancer but identified that the parabens were able to penetrate the skin and remain within tissue. Parabens are believed to disrupt hormone function by mimicking oestrogen. Too much oestrogen can trigger an increase in breast cell division and the growth of tumours, which is why paraben use is linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues. The parabens used most commonly in cosmetics are methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben.

Oxybenzone is still used in many popular sunscreens, although it has clearly been shown to damage coral and affect marine life. It is banned in Hawaii, and more countries will hopefully follow. It may also be an endocrine disruptor, mimicking oestrogen.

EDTA is a compound widely used as a cheating agent in many skincare products, as it increases the stability of the product in the air. Laboratory animal studies have suggested it has an effect on reproduction and development as an endocrine disruptor. There are lots of safer alternatives that manufacturers could use.

Some of the mineral sunscreens in a spray or aerosol form contain very fine particles (nanoparticles) which are small enough to enter the lungs and have been linked with serious respiratory disease.

These concerns prompted FaceWorks to develop their very own daily sun protection for the face. “We set the bar very high,” says Teresa, “and we wanted to develop the best and safest Primer SPF30 for wearing under makeup. It needed to be completely free of any of these five potential health hazards.” Not only did their Primer have to be safe, “but we had plenty of other things on our wish list before we were happy,” she adds.
It had to have organic sun filters, “because they work well when applied in a thin layer on the skin”. For mineral sunblocks to be effective, they need to be applied in a thicker layer, which Teresa and her team knew some clients find unpleasant to wear, “so we didn’t want to use minerals. It had to work well under makeup, but also feel great without makeup!”
It took more than two years of development in their laboratory here in Auckland to create what is now the high performance beauty known as FaceWorks Primer SPF30, which at $45 for 30g is a virtual steal given the time, effort and serious ingredient deck that comes with it. It glides easily onto the skin and requires little blending, and just a pea-sized amount covers the whole face. It adds the hint of a glow and nourishes while it protects, and you can even mix it with your foundation if you’re that way inclined!
It’s available right now at with free NZ delivery, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Main image by Aiony Haust on Unsplash


Popular Posts