Man, I get baked today……. Don’t worry, I don’t get burned, my skin turns dark quickly- I don’t need sunscreen!?!?!?! Are you one of these???
Well, there are worse things in life than getting a sunburn.
You see, the longer your skin is exposed to the sun, the deeper the UVA rays penetrate into skin and cause a ruckus.
Not just a ruckus, a deep underlying frenzy of free radical damage that may eventually damage the very DNA that makes you the person you are today.
And this damage, from spending too much time in the sun, may very well put you up for weekly trips to the hospital so you can battle the most dreaded cancer of all — melanoma. Now, not everyone will develop skin cancer from going outside in the sun — as long as your protected with the RIGHT sun protection.
unscreen can be a lifesaver. And it feels like it should be so easy — just grab something with a nice big number on it and you're set to go, right?
Wrong. It turns out, there's more to sunscreen than SPF.
Let's start with what we're actually trying to block. There are two main types of solar radiation that hit your skin when you're sunbathing: UVA and UVB. UVB is what creates tans and burns, but there's a lot more UVA and it can reach further into your skin and contribute to skin cancer.
But SPF doesn't really acknowledge UVA radiation at all, and it doesn't take into account any of the negative effects of sun besides burns. There's no similar scale for blocking UVA rays, so before you even worry about that SPF number, be sure you're using a sunscreen that's labeled "broad spectrum." That means the sunscreen provides a similar protection against UVA rays as well.
While a few percentage points of extra coverage isn't a bad thing, practically, there's not really a good argument for buying super-high SPF sunscreen.
The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates how sunscreens are sold, is considering simplifying the entire upper half of the SPF scale into simply "SPF 50+" because it hasn't seen any data that show that higher SPF numbers are more beneficial than SPF 50.
Basically, once you get up to SPF 50, it's more important to prioritize "broad spectrum" over a sky-high SPF.
But the single most thing to do with sunscreen is to remember to actually slather it on — generously. The average person applies between a quarter and half as much sunscreen as testers use to calculate SPF. So you're probably getting significantly less protection than you think.
First off, the sun contains powerful rays that possess the power to improve your health — or destroy it, depending on what type you’re exposed to. You see, the sun contains UVA rays — which penetrate your skin and damage the inner layers by increasing free radical damage. These are the type of rays that increase wrinkles and boost your risk for skin cancer. UVA rays should be avoided at all costs! However, these rays shine all throughout the day, which means you need to be protected ALL DAY LONG. Now UVB rays, on the other hand, may be beneficial to your body. You see, these rays penetrate your skin and may boost your body’s production of vitamin D. This is very important. Most people are deficient in their vitamin D levels. This could lead to you being overweight, having high blood pressure, an increased risk for diabetes, and may even increase your risk for developing certain cancers. Some studies suggest that having adequate vitamin D levels may actually PREVENT certain cancers from occurring! But for those people concerned about the sun, they lather themselves up with sunscreen in order to block the harmful rays or reflect the rays off their bodies. And this is where the problem lies…
The WORST Sunscreens
There are two main types of sunscreens you should concern yourself with… One type reflects the UV rays from striking your body using inert ingredients that may be non-toxic to your body. The second — and the worst kind — contains different chemicals that may pose a risk to your health. Now, most people use sunscreen during the summer to prevent sunburns and reduce the risk for cancer. But, if you’re using any of three, then you could be putting yourself at risk… remember……...
SPF 30 is the most common level for most people and skin types. No sunscreen can block all UV rays, but what we do know is: SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays and SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays. So, the difference between 30 and 50 is about 1 percent.
Avoid any skin or lip product whose label includes retinyl palmitate, retinol or vitamin A. Avoid oxybenzone, a synthetic estrogen that penetrates the skin and can disrupt the hormone system. Look for products with zinc oxide, 3 percent avobenzone or Mexoryl SX. They protect skin from harmful UVA radiation.
There are two types of ultraviolet radiation: UVA (longwave) penetrates the deeper dermal layers and plays a significant role in photoaging, and UVB (shortwave), which effects the more superficial epidermal layers, causing redness and sunburn—both are linked to skin cancer.
SPF (sun protection factor) refers to a formula’s ability to protect against UVB damage. Products labeled broad-spectrum guard against both UVA and UVB rays. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends opting for a water-resident, broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher. It’s important to note that, in the case of sun protection, higher doesn’t mean better. The FDA is considering nixing high SPFs (above 50), calling them “inherently misleading.” So best to stick to SPF 30 or 50—and be sure to reapply every two hours, as well as after swimming and sweating.
SPFs are divided into two camps: chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreens contain worrisome chemicals, like oxybenzone (a potential estrogenic endocrine disruptor linked to reproductive and environmental concerns), octinoxate, homosalate, octisalate and retinyl palmitate (a form of vitamin A that may accelerate sun damage). These active ingredients penetrate skin, absorbing the sun’s rays; this means greater exposure to toxins and a greater likelihood of irritation.
Physical (ie: mineral-based) sunscreens contain mineral agents, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which are naturally broad spectrum (score well in the EWG’s annual ratings). These formulas sit on top of the skin, creating a physical shield that deflects the sun’s rays. Not only are they free of toxic ingredients, but because they aren’t absorbed into skin, these safer formulas tend to be less irritating.
Simply put: Skip the chemicals and slather on non-toxic sunscreen and topical to help reduce the pain and inflammation from sunburn.
1. Chemical Sunscreen
These are your most common sunscreens on the market today. Most of them contain different chemicals, all designed to absorb or reflect the harmful rays from the sun. One of the main ingredients — avobenzone — which is found in almost all chemically made sunscreens, absorb the harmful UVA rays. But there is a problem: the chemical avobenzone breaks down in the sunlight, which means another chemical stabilizer needs to be added to prevent this from occurring. Result — even more exposure to nasty chemicals that may harm your health! Plus, sunscreens also block the UVB rays from the body, which could limit the amount of vitamin D that your body is able to produce.
2. Vitamin A Sunscreens
When you are exposed to the sun for long periods of time, there is a good chance you may develop a sun burn. And this sunburn may be a sign that deeper layers in your skin have been damaged by UVA rays, which could cause fine lines and wrinkles. And this is one reason why Vitamin A was introduced into sunscreens. Vitamin A may be used as a cosmetic ingredient due to its antioxidant power. It could be used to improve the performance of the product against the aging effects of UV sunlight exposure on the skin. However, a recent study showed that sunscreens that contain Vitamin A may increase your risk for developing skin tumors and/or lesions. It may suit you best to think twice about using Vitamin A-rich sunscreens.
3. Spray On Sunscreens
Ever use a spray-on sunscreen because it was easier to apply? Of course you probably have! However, these may hold potential dangers to your health. You see, aerosol spray sunscreens may not dry quickly enough, which could mean there may be vapors left over and floating above your skin. This may increase the chance for the sunscreen to ignite when exposed to an open flame. Although easy to apply and able to get those hard-to-reach places, avoiding aerosol based sunscreens may lead to a safer and more enjoyable experience — especially around the BBQ.
What then, if I get sunburn-
Spring and summer are a time when the temperatures start to climb and the sun is out for longer periods of time. However, in order to enjoy the sun — without burning and increasing your risk for skin cancer- we suggest you do the following: 1. AVOID spending long periods of time in the sun without proper protection from non-toxic sunscreens 2. Stay covered in the shade during the hours of 12 and 3 (the sun is at its highest with UVA and UVB rays at their strongest) 3. Wear lightweight clothing that reflects the sun 4. Always wear a hat 5. AVOID tanning beds. Artificial light from tanning beds may increase your risk for developing skin cancer.
Unfortunately, when the skin is subjected to excessive radiation in the ultraviolet range, deleterious effects may occur. The most conspicuous is acute sunburn or solar erythema. ... Sunburn inflammation causes vasodilation of cutaneous blood vessels, resulting in the characteristic erythema. This can be helped with highly bioavailable topicals that actually reduce the pain and inflammation very quickly.
Stick with these tips and enjoy your time in the sun. These tips may help you decrease your risk for developing skin cancer and may protect your health.
References: Grant WB. How strong is the evidence that solar ultraviolet B and vitamin D reduce the risk of cancer? Dermatoendocrinol. 2008 Jan0Feb;1(1):17–24. National Toxicology Program. Photocarcinogensis study of retinoic acid and retinyl palmitate (CAS Nos. 30279–4. (All trans-retinioc Acid) and 79–81–2 (all-trans-retinyl palmitrate)] in SKH-1 mice (Simulated Solar Light and Topical Application Study). Natl Toxicol Program Tech Rep Ser. 2012 Jul;(568):1–352.