Henry Lim, MD: Insights Into Sunscreen, Photoprotection for Different Skin Phenotypes

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An HCPLive interview with Henry Lim, MD, during which he describes the differing needs of various skin types and the differences in sunscreen regulations.

During an HCPLive interview regarding his 2023 Winter Clinical Dermatology conference presentation, Henry Lim, MD, spoke more about recent data on photoprotection for darker and lighter skin phenotypes.

Lim is known for his work both as a dermatologist and as Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs for the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.

He spoke first about the differences between ingredients in sunscreens and the types of ultraviolet radiation that each one protects against. Antioxidants were brought up as another protection measure.

“The reason antioxidants become important is that now we recognize that sunlight would induce generation of antioxidant or reactive oxygen species on the skin,” Lim said. “Therefore, coming in with antioxidants would help to downregulate the effect of reactive oxygen species. It is known that reactive oxygen species is one of the mediators for the development of pigmentary alterations on the skin.”

Lim summarized several major points made regarding protecting the skin from sun exposure.

“The part that I do want to emphasize is that when we talk about border protection, we talk about essentially the total package of border protection,” he said. “Meaning staying in the shade when outdoors,using photoprotective clothing, using wide-brim hats, sunglasses, and—only in the sun-exposed area—put on sunscreen. So sunscreen is an important and integral part of border protection. However it is just one of the parts, it is not the only part of photoprotection.”

Lim also brought up that advances in his field have made it so that clinicians are now targeting specific genes in individuals to promote photoprotection for different phenotypes.

“So this is the same concept,” he said. “With personalized photoprotection, the photoprotection recommendations should be tailored to the individual patient depending on the skin tone, depending on how dark their skin is.”

Lim later also discussed the differences between regulations in Europe and in the US for sunscreen’s UV filters.

He stated that users’ options are “much more flexible in terms of getting new UV filters, new ingredients, and active ingredients to be approved in Europe, as compared to the United States. In the US right now, we have 17 UV filters…under FDA monograph and FDA-approved UV filters, there's 17 of them. In Europe, they're 29.”

To find out more about the information explored by Lim in his Winter Clinical presentation, view the interview segment above.