How to speak Sunscreen

Sunscreen is a preventive measure to protect skin against the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The two main types of ultraviolet radiation, UVA and UVB, damage the skin, cause premature aging, and increase your risk of skin cancer. And these rays come in contact with your skin year-round, even when it’s cloudy or you’re indoors (some UV rays can penetrate through glass). But choosing a sunscreen isn’t as easy as grabbing any bottle from the shelf. Not all sun-protecting ingredients have the same benefits, risks, or instructions. I for one want as much protection for as little $$ as possible and tend to pick up bottles with SPF 50++. My research showed that those high SPF sunscreens not only over-promise protection but, according to the Food and Drug Administration, they may also overexpose consumers to UVA rays and raise their risk of cancer. In theory, applying sunscreen with an SPF of 100 would allow beachgoers to bare their skin 100 times longer before suffering a sunburn. But with high-SPF sunscreens, the theory and the reality are two different things.

Purchasing Sunscreen used to involve choosing an SPF level and deciding if we want to smell like coconut. Now the descriptors on each bottle have multiplied and there are far more decisions to make. What does it all mean?  If you walk over to the sun protection counter in Target, Walgreens, Walmart, CVS or any other major store, you will find labels with the following:

Broad Spectrum -  A sunscreen that offers protection of both UVB rays which burn skin and UVA rays that cause damage.

NonComedogenic  -  If you are acne prone, choose sunscreens with salicylic acid and zinc oxide. Avoid those rich in lipids like coconut oil and cocoa butter.

Mineral -  There are only two mineral sunscreen ingredients: titanium dioxide & zinc oxide. They both work by absorbing into the surface layers of skin and deflecting or scattering the sun’s harmful rays. These mineral ingredients are also called Physical sunscreens.

Organic  -  this would mean that the ingredients were farmed organically. But, really no sunscreen can be 100% organic.

Oil Free -  This means a product does not contain oil. But does it contain other occlusives like silicone that can cause breakouts?

Chemical - A sunscreen that protects from UV rays by absorbing them with chemical ingredients like avobenzone.

Hypoallergenic - The FDA does not regulate this term and companies tend to use it.  Buyer Beware.

Clinically Tested  - Some brands can and will test for distinctions. Who, what, where, the test was done? We have no clue.

Synthetic -  There are over 30 synthetic sunscreen ingredients, all of which absorb into the top layers of skin. Common synthetic sunscreen ingredients include oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, and avobenzone.

Sport -  There's no actual test to verify that any is better for activities. But it is possible that water resistant for 80 minutes can do the trick.

Sensitive -  It appears that Physical sunscreen is better for sensitivity than Chemical sunscreen, because they are less likely to irritate skin.

Reef Friendly/Reef Safe  -  Oxybenzone and octinoxate are two ingredients believed to damage coral reefs. In fact sunscreens containing these ingredients are banned in Hawaii.

There's lots more to read on the subject.  Go check Here, Here and Here. However, you should speak to your Medical professional if you have any health concerns.  Get on out and Enjoy Your Life!

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