July 16, 2012
It seems like sunscreen contains a lot of chemicals, is daily exposure to sunscreen safe?
-blog reader Ann
Good question! To date, there have been no studies showing a statistically significant increase in caner rates from sunscreen ingredients BUT I also question the effects of sunscreen chemicals on things other than cancer, which have not really been studied. Oxybenzone is a synthetic chemical that absorbs sun rays (so your skin doesn’t). It is widely found on sunscreen ingredient lists…I avoid it. When cancer cells are exposed to oxybenzone, it causes a hormone disruption, however it has not been shown to cause cancer. Additionally, oxybenzone and butylparaben activate marine viruses that kill coral food supply. As coral reefs all over the world are dying for no definitive reason, I encourage you to do what you can and avoid these chemicals. Chemicals sting your eyes too. Synthetic chemicals end in –one, -ene and –ate and they need to be applied 15 to 20 minutes before going into the sun because a chemical reaction with skin protein needs to occur to activate their ray absorbing abilities.
As I have said in previous posts, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are the best sunscreen choice. Both are natural minerals that deflect (not absorb) sun rays and they break down in nature. They are great for sensitive skin and they do not sting eyes because they are natural. Also, because they are a mineral and not a chemical, they work immediately so there is no need to apply them early and wait before heading outside and they block a wider range of UV rays. They are commonly available; there is no need to shop at specialty stores to find them. I haven’t tried everything on the market by any means, but here are my brands:
For children I especially like Solar Sense Clear Zinc stick for faces. It is like a deodorant stick and it never runs into the eyes. They can apply it to their face while you do their bodies with a liquid. Try drugstore.com (a Walgreens website where I buy tons of stuff all the time) or amazon.com
For my face I use SkinCeuticals Sheer Physical UV Defense
For my neck and chest I use Neutrogena Pure and Free Liquid daily sunblock. It is half the price of SkinCeuticals, but it is not quite as sheer, so it is more budget friendly to use it on areas that need the care you face does, but that you notice a little less. This is the only drugstore facial sunscreen to contain the right ingredients.
For body I use whatever contains titanium dioxide, zinc oxide and is water resistant (there is no such thing as waterproof). Target brand has a nice formula and Coppertone Kids is good.
May 30, 2012
& Benefits of Rash Guards
This summer I am teaching my daughter to swim, which means I am spending a lot of time in the pool. Covering two people, head to toe, in sun block is time consuming. In addition, I can’t reach my entire back. Spray sun blocks could be the answer to both issues, but they have their drawbacks. First, aerosol cans aren’t doing any favors for the environment or your lungs. Second, because they spray, the sun block is applied in tiny droplets, not an even coat. You need to rub it in to create a continuous layer of protection or your skin will still be absorbing all the sun’s radiation, even if you are less likely to burn due to the partial coverage. Being unable to reach a small quadrant in the middle of my back, this really doesn’t solve my problem. Finally, spray sun blocks don’t contain titanium dioxide or zinc, so the UVA protection isn’t adequate and is short-lived. My best bet was to buy a rash guard (otherwise known as a water shirt or SPF clothing). Finding a cute swim shirt for my daughter was easy, but cute rash guards can be hard to find for adult women, although I’m sure they are easier to come by in surfing communities. I was happy to find this one at Athletica.com. SPF50 sun protection with no reapplying… love it!
August 9, 2011
How to Choose Sunblock
I just spent the last couple of days in Lake Tahoe,CA and gave everyone at the beach a laugh when I covered myself in SPF50, wore a sun hat and glasses, then parked myself under an umbrella with a health magazine. I do hide in fear, but my fears are legitimate. Skin cancer is, by far, the most common type of cancer. The incidence of skin cancercontinues to increase as the rates for most other cancers are decreasing. Only 25% of skin damage occurs before the age of 18, so there is a lot that can be done to protect yourself as an adult.
I was able to prove that 4 to 5 levels of sun protection were necessary with my UV detection wrist band. White when there is no exposure; it turns purple depending on the strength of the UV rays. Even in the shade it was lavender!
Buying sunblock isn’t straight forward. There are many options, not just in terms of brands, but ingredients as well. Basic sun protection blocks UVB rays. A “broad-spectrum” sunblock absorbs UVA ray so that they don’t reach your skin. They contain multiple ingredients because none of them can absorb all types of rays and they work for about one hour after application. Avobenzone and oxybenzone are common ones. The best type of sun protection is one that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These are the only two ingredients that are physical barriers that deflect the entire UV spectrum from your skin. They are active for about three hours after application and are great for sensitive skin. If you are old enough, you may hear the word zinc and recall florescent pink noses of the 80’s. You won’t have to make that kind of a fashion statement today because transparent zinc is now available.
Sunblock should be applied 15 minutes before entering the water. It must be reapplied every three hours if it contains zinc or titanium dioxide, every hour if it doesn’t. Don’t forget your ears, lips, neck, top of your feet and the back of your hands.