Showing posts with label SPF. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SPF. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Most Sunscreens Work Partially Only - Part I

The sun is our friend and foe. That is an apt statement. Without the sun, plants will die and inevitably, all animals will die. Without the sun, our Earth will perish. Yet too much of the sun is not a good thing for our skin. The sun's UV radiation is composed of UVA, UVB and UVC rays. UVC rays are the most energetic out of the three but thankfully, they are very much filtered off by the Earth's ozone layer and do not reach us. Both UVA and UVB cause skin changes such as premature aging and skin cancer. Avoid going under the sun from 9am to 4pm. Wear proper clothes and head protection. It is also good to invest in a safe and effective sunscreen. Many out there either work partially or have undesirable ingredients. There are two classes of sunscreen ingredients : 1. Physical barriers. 2. Those that absorb and deflect sun rays via a chemical reaction. Avoid all these ingredients: PABA, Benzophonone-3 (oxybenzone), Octyl Methoxycinnamate (octinoxate), parabens (synthetic preservatives), padimate-O, parsol 1789 (avobenzone), octisalate All the above ingredients have to potential to cause skin irritations, allergies and reproductive toxicity. Some are readily absorbed by the skin and can cause side effects that we never know. Some of them work only partially and may protect against UVA but not UVB or vice versa. Some are such weak blocking agents that you can forget about having them. Most sunscreens use a combinations of several ingredients and also lots of preservatives. Here are some tips to choosing a safe and effective sunscreen :
  • Get sunscreen with either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Both are physical screens against UVA and UVB rays. Both are safe and not absorbed by the skin. Zinc oxide is better than titanium dioxide because it covers a wider spectrum in terms of protection.
  • Get a sunscreen with a SPF 15 to 30. There is not a huge difference between products with SPF values higher than 30. Sunscreens with SPF 50 provide just 1.3% more protection from UVB rays than sunscreens with SPF 30. It is more important to apply sunscreen generously than to seek out sunscreens with ultra-high SPF ratings. Few people put on enough to actually reach the product's SPF rating.
  • SPF numbers only refer to the ability of the sunscreen to protect you against UVB rays. They have nothing to do with protecting you against UVA rays.
  • Re-apply sunscreen according to the time instructed on the product (especially more important when exposed to water during swimming and sweating). There is no such things as waterproof sunscreens.
  • Look for a sunscreen without loads of ingredients especially synthetic preservatives. You do not want to load so many things on your face. In the end, the sunscreen is doing your skin and body more harm than giving you sun protection.
  • Do not take the sunscreen information on the tube or bottle at face value. Check the ingredients thoroughly. When a sunscreen says it covers broad spectrum protection, it may not necessarily give you that protection.
Continued in Part II.
"All that mankind needs for good health and healing is provided by God in nature...the challenge of Science is to find it." - Paracelcus, the father of Pharmcology, 1493 - 1541