Friday, September 27, 2013

Sunscreen Facts to Prevent Premature Aging

Sunscreen Facts and Risks
Sunscreen Facts and Risks
There are a lot of rumors about the health risks of sunscreen.  This article will help you understand the facts about sunscreen, and which safe ingredients to look for in the ones available to purchase for you and your family.

Sun Protection Factor (SPF)

The amount of protection a sunscreen offers against UV radiation, is termed SPF (sun protection factor). An SPF 15 means it will take 15 times longer to redden than without sunscreen. According to the American Cancer Society, sunscreen is recommended in order to prevent skin cancer, specifically squamous cell and basal cell carcinoma. They also recommend an SPF 15 or higher, however, studies are showing that up to SPF 30 should be adequate. 

You can use sunscreen with high sun protection factors, but it still may not block these harmful rays of the sun. Many sun worshippers believe if they normally get sunburn in two hours, an SPF 20 sunscreen will help prevent sunburn for an extra 20 hours, or 20 times longer exposure. However, there are certain risks that you should be aware of before feeling too comfortable in the sun.

The problem is that many sunscreens do not block the harmful rays of the sun known as UVA radiation. UVA may not cause sunburn but can harm the skin cells and increase the risk of skin cancer.  Sunblock is what to look for instead of sunscreen.

UVA versus UVB Sunscreens

There are two types of ultraviolet light that can affect your skin. 
  1. UVA - This has a longer wave and penetrates the skin's deeper layers. It plays a major role in premature aging and wrinkling of your skin.  Studies report UVA damages deeper skin cells in the basal layer of the epidermis, where most skin cancers occur.  Tanning booths primarily emit UVA rays as much as 12 times the amount of the sun.  Those who use tanning salons are at a higher risk to develop skin cancers.
  2. UVB - When exposed to the shorter-waves of UVB, your skin will redden and get sunburned, with damage affecting the superficial epidermal layers.  These UVB rays also contribute to skin cancer.  You will be exposed to UVB mostly between 10AM and 4PM from April to October in the U.S.
Most sunscreen either absorb ultraviolet light with a specific chemical or they block, reflect, scatter and absorb UV light. Rather than focusing only on the SPF to measure the effectiveness of the sunscreen for your skin, other factors should be considered.

  • How sensitive your skin is - You're better off always choosing sensitive skin products, specially safe sensitive skin sunscreen, no matter what your skin type. Usually, these types of sunscreen contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which are two very important ingredients in sunblock.
  • How often your apply it - If you apply the sunscreen in the morning and do not apply it after swimming or sweating, the protection is lost. Even if the product lists it as waterproof, it's important to re-apply it.
  • Active ingredients used - Certain ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide sunscreen are the healthy sunscreen active ingredients, while some others may be of concern. For example, PABA was found to increase DNA defects. Padimate O, oxybenzone, dioxybenzone and others have not be tested for safety. Zinc oxide has been shown to protect against skin tumors in mice.

  • FDA Label Regulations for Sunscreen

    The final FDA rules established in 2012 bans "waterproof" claims, instead products can claim water resistant up to 80 minutes of exposure. Also claims of protection over 2 hours are not allowed without specific approval.

    Ingredients in Sunscreen: What to Look For in Sensitive Skin Sunscreen

    The two main ingredients in sunscreen to look for are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These offer broad-spectrum protection without potential harmful and irritating side effects. 

    No matter what your skin type, choose a safe sensitive skin sunscreen that includes these two ingredients, but is free of parabens and other irritating ingredients. In other words, sunscreen should also be hypoallergenic, should not clog pores (noncomedogenic) and be considered as broad-spectrum, which means it protects againe UVA and UVB radiation.
    Remember to use a hat and do not expose your whole body for long periods to the sun without the right safe sensitive skin sunscreen.

    Safe, natural sunscreen
    Safe, natural sunscreen

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