The New Scoop on Sunscreens
You may have noticed that there has
been lots of news lately regarding the ingredients and labeling of
sunscreens. There have been some changes
and some improvements. Here’s what you
need to know to get the best protection!
There are two types of ultraviolet
radiation—UVA and UVB rays, both of which are harmful to your skin.
UVA rays penetrate deep into the layers of skin and are responsible for
premature aging of the skin, causing wrinkling and age spots. UVA
rays also suppress the immune system. UVB rays penetrate the surface of the skin
and cause damage to the skin cells. UVB
rays are the primary cause of sunburn. Both UVA and UVB rays can cause skin
Until this year, we have counted on
the “SPF” factor to tell us which sunscreen is best for us.
Manufacturers calculate SPF based on how long it takes to sunburn skin
that’s been treated with sunscreen compared with skin that hasn’t been treated
with sunscreen. For example, if you
would normally burn in 10 minutes with no sunscreen, SPF 15 multiplies that by
a factor of 15, meaning you could go 150 minutes before burning with SPF 15
suncreen applied. There are some
sunscreens available with an SPF of up to 100!
But most experts says there is no need for an SPF that high. The higher number does not indicate a higher
level of protection. While a sunscreen
with an SPF of 15 blocks 93% of rays, an SPF of 30 blocks 97%.
The only benefit of having a higher SPF protection is that most people
don’t apply enough sunscreen to have the full SPF benefit.
However, the SPF only relates to the
sunscreen’s UVB protection, and until now, there has been no way to rate a
sunscreen’s UVA protection. When it comes to UVA protection,
you need to pay attention to the ingredients.
Experts say that adults should apply 1 ounce
of sunscreen (about a palm-full or 2 tablespoons), for full-body coverage every
2 hours. Apply the sunscreen 15-30
minutes before you go out in the sun.
Sunscreens that protect against both
UVA and UVB rays will now be termed “Broad-spectrum”. To make sure you are getting a broad-spectrum
sunscreen, look on the label for any of the following ingredients:
Avobenzone, Cinoxate, Ecamsule,
Menthyl anthranilate, Octyl methoxycinnamate, Octyl salicylate, Oxybenzone, or
Sunscreens can, in general, be used
on infants 6 months and older. Keep
babies under 6 months out of the sun!
also some mineral-based sunscreens that do not seem to penetrate the skin. Their main ingredients are titanium dioxide
and zinc oxide. They appear to be safe
as well as effective.
Also, there are no “waterproof”
sunscreens. The FDA now defines water resistant
sunscreen as meaning that the SPF level stays effective after 40 minutes in the
water. “Very water resistant” means it
holds after 80 minutes of swimming.
Re-apply theses sunscreens regularly if you are going to be in the
Protect yourself and your family!
Stay out of the sun during the
hottest hours of the day: usually from 10 am to 4 pm in the US.
Stay in the shade when possible.
Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes!
Wear a broad-brimmed hat and
And, USE your sunscreen! It can’t protect you if you don’t use it!
Hope you all have a fun and healthy
summer, and blessings to you,