Sunday, March 9, 2014

How to Choose the Best Sunscreen

Which is the best SPF?

Finding a good sunscreen for you and your family ranks up as one of the important decisions for health.  Sunscreen helps your skin from long term damage of cell damage as well as minimizing your risk for skin cancer.  Deciding which SPF number and ingredients can be confusing, as wanting the highest SPF may seem to be the most health conscious but actually may not.

 Is a Higher SPF Sunscreen Really Better?

FDA made a regulation in 2013 that you will no longer be able to purchase sunscreen over SPF 50.  Also sunscreens are not allowed to be labeled waterproof or sweatproof, rather it can say water-resistant.  It must state that it can't provide instant protection and will only last for two hours.  What is misleading about SPF numbers is that SPF 30 does not give you double protection of SPF 15.

SPF 2 = Blocks 50% UVB Rays
SPF 15 = Blocks 93% UVB Rays
SPF 30 = Blocks 97% UVB Rays
SPF 50 = Blocks 99% UVB Rays
SPF 70 = Blocks 99.6% UVB Rays
SPF 90 = Blocks 99.9% UVB Rays

Since SPF only give an indication of protecting from UVB Rays, and the numbers only increase the protection incrementally, it gives a false sense of security purchasing an high number sunscreen.  You should apply 2 ounces of sunscreen, about a shot glass full with each application.  The sun breaks down the ingredients, and therefore should be reapplied every two hours.

For manufacturers to get a higher SPF concentration, more chemicals have to be in the sunscreen, some that can cause allergic reactions.  Some chemical ingredients have been shown to cause hormone disruptions in high doses.  Although the research has not been proven in the dosage or topically with these ingredients, it may be more health conscience to limit exposure to more chemical ingredients, and choose a lower SPF.  Finding a sunscreen that is fragrance free, paraben free and has healthy preservatives are important in being health conscious when purchasing sunscreen. Read our blog with a list of unhealthy preservatives in addition to parabens here.

Is Sunscreen the Only Way to Protect from the Sun?

No.  Sunscreen is the best way to PREVENT damage with the sun.  Vitamin C Serums are the best way to REPAIR from sun damage and protect against sunburns.  To achieve optimal skin health, apply Vitamin C Serums in the morning and then apply your sunscreen.  Vitamin C as well as other antioxidants help to stop free radical damage, which are DNA mutations to the skin cells from the environment.

The Importance of Zinc Oxide

 Choosing a Broad Spectrum Sunscreen

Zinc Oxide is the best broad spectrum protection to block both UVA and UVB rays with little to no side effects.  When a sunscreen is called " Mineral " or " Physical ", Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide are the main ingredients in the sunscreen.  Titanium Dioxide protects from UVB and only short wavelengths of UVA.  Zinc Oxide is the chalky white ingredient in sunscreens that can sometimes feel heavy and not absorb.  Most sunscreens use a 7% concentration of Zinc Oxide, EltaMD, a dermatologist grade of sunscreen uses 9% and it goes on sheer, not white.

What are UVA and UVB Rays?

The most prevalent rays are UVA, about 20% more than UVB in the environment.  UVA can cause long term cell damage to the skin and premature aging.  UVA can pass through glass, so it is important to wear a daily sunscreen even if your stuck in commuting and in an office.  UVA indexes are consistent with weather and altitude.

UVB rays are the culprits of sunburns and vary within the seasons, being more prevalent in the summer.  UVB increase near the equator and at high altitudes.  When you read an SPF factor on sunscreen, it is only indicating the protection from UVB rays, which cause 90% of cataracts and non-melanoma skin cancers.

Both UVA\UVB rays are most abundant from 10am to 6pm, so doing activities before these times, and limiting exposure during the day will maintain skin health.

What Does Water Resistance Mean in Sunscreen?

Your sunscreen should indicate for the duration it is water resistant, typically 40-90 minutes while you are sweating and swimming.  For optimal effectiveness, the sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before the activity and applied liberally.

Is Tanning Healthy?

Tanning does not promote skin health, but ads to premature aging, whether done on a tanning bed or sun.  Tanning is the skins reaction in the dermis to the ultraviolet light penetrating the skin.  It reacts by producing melanin which is the pigment in skin, which can lead over time to wrinkles, changes in skin texture, age spots and cancer.  Sunless Tans have been shown to be an effective way to giving the glow without the adverse effects.

What Spots do we Neglect to Put Sunscreen On?

Ever noticed the hands on a beautifully aged woman?  They've done their due diligence to apply sunscreen on the back of their hands, ears, face EVERY day, arms and chest.  Bald men, sparse hair or parts in your hair, don't forget your head!  A good way to protect your little ones is to apply the sunscreen before their clothes and swimsuits, so you are sure to not miss a spot by their clothing.

Where to Buy Sunscreen?

It may be tempting to purchase sunscreen on the bargain rack of your grocery or drug store.  Since fragrances, parabens and other fillers are in cheaper sunscreens, making a smart purchase and stocking up will help you stay skin healthy.  shopspaViolet has a lot of dermatologist grade sunscreen with choices of tinted, organic, non-fragrance and with added ingredients and healthy preservatives to help the skin.

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