ISN'T ALL SUNSCREEN THE SAME?
You're told you should be wearing it, but did you know not all sunscreen is equal?
WHAT IS SPF?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, which explains how well a sunscreen protects you against one type of UV radiation, called UVB.(These rays cause sunburn and several types of skin cancer.)
SPF does not indicate protection against UVA radiation, which accelerates skin aging as wells increases skin cancer risk.
WHAT DOES THE SPF NUMBER MEAN?
The SPF number refers to roughly how long it will take for a person's skin to turn red, while using the product, as opposed to not using it. The caveat most people miss, is for it work as the label says, the product has to be used exactly as directed.
DO I WANT THE HIGHEST SPF NUMBER I CAN FIND?
Sunscreen with an SPF of 15 will prevent your skin from getting red for approximately 15 times longer than if you weren't wearing sunscreen. (so, if you normally would burn in 10 minutes, sunscreen with SPF 15 will prevent burning for about 150 minutes, or 2.5 hours), according to the American Academy of Dermatology. However; since sunscreen tends to rub or wash off, (or people don’t use enough!) the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends reapplying sunscreen within two hours regardless of its strength.
Often, the higher the number of spf there is, a misconception arises of not needing to reapply as often.
WHAT SUNSCREEN WILL PROTECT ME FROM UVA & UVB?
To ensure your skin is protected from both the aging UVA & thé burning UVB rays, be sure to find one that is labeled as: BROAD SPECTRUM.
HOW MUCH SUNSCREEN DO I REALLY NEED?
In order for your sunscreen to be as effective as the label says, you’ll need to use it as directed. Generally, a shot glass for the body, and a 1/2 ounce for the face& neck- then, reapply!
BUT....ISN’T ALL SUNSCREEN THE SAME?
There are two types of sunscreen, with the same goal, sun protection. That’s where the similarities end, though. Each type has a totally different response mechanism to sunlight.
The two types are: Physical Sunscreen and Chemical Sunscreen.
The difference in how they work? Chemical sunscreen absorbs into the skin, and combat uv damage by a chemical change that takes place inside the skin. Physical Sunscreen sits atop the skin, and uv Rays reflect off it. Read on to learn more about each!
WHAT’S A PHYSICAL SUNSCREEN?
Physical sunscreen, mineral sunscreen, and sunblock are all referring to INORGANIC Ultra Violet filters that sit on top of the skin and reflect, scatter and block the sun’s UV rays before they can penetrate. These active minerals also reflect heat, making them a great choice for those struggling with rosacea, melasma, and other skin conditions that are aggravated by heat.
Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide are the only inorganic UV filters that have been approved by the FDA for sun protection. (They are also the least likely of all sunscreen ingredients to cause adverse skin reactions, so those with sensitive skin typically use hypoallergenic sunscreens that use these as active ingredients.)
Although mostly notoriously known for a thick white paste, many manufacturers have been working hard to develop more cosmetically pleasing formulas.
WHAT IS A CHEMICAL SUNSCREEN?
“Chemical Sunscreen”, is actually confusing because any ingredient in sunscreen will be a chemical!! The correct verbiage would be Organic Chemical Sunscreen. ORGANIC based sunscreens (aka chemical sunscreens) have active ingredients designed to absorb UV radiation from the sun, catalyzing a reaction that changes those UV rays into heat, which is then released into the skin. For those who are heat sensitive, this is a factor that needs pointed out. Individually, these organic chemicals only protect against UVA or UVB rays, so it takes more than one, mixed, to qualify a sunscreen as being Broad Spectrum. (meaning it protects from both burning and aging rays)
These formulas are often cosmetically appealing, as they are virtually clear, but have been known to cause “chemical” burns or irritation to skin. Some people’s mucous membranes are even affected by the off gas that occurs during the chemical reaction.
Because these need time to absorb into the skin, it’s necessary to apply 15 min prior to sun exposure.
AREN’T CHEMICAL SUNSCREENS BANNED IN SOME AREAS?
Certain ingredients found in chemical sunscreens were banned because of the damage they are causing the ocean ecosystems.According to The National Park Service, rather than being evenly distributed, much of that sunscreen is concentrated at popular diving, swimming, and snorkeling sites—such as national parks.
A 2016 study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other institutions found that baby coral exposed to oxybenzone and octinoxate exhibited signs of distress, including coral bleaching—which leaves coral vulnerable to infection and prevents it from getting the nutrients it needs to survive—as well as DNA damage, and abnormalities in their growth and skeleton.Other studies have also found the ingredients to be harmful to other marine organisms, such as fish, sea urchins, and shrimp.
Further studies show there are other sunscreen ingredients—besides the two banned by Hawaii that might also be harmful to marine life, such as octocrylene, homosalate, and octisalate.
(A study published in 2014 in the journal Science of the Total Environment, found that octocrylene might affect brain and liver development in zebrafish.)
WHAT ACTIVE INGREDIENTS SHOULD I KNOW?
Currently, the FDA only considers 2 active ingredients that are Generally Recognized As Safe and Effective, (GRASE) are Zinc Oxide & Titanium Dioxide.
WHAT IS THE STANCE OF THE FDA ON CHEMICAL SUNSCREEN USE FOR HUMANS?
In 2019, the FDA called for more testing of a handful of commonly used sunscreen ingredients after studies found concerning amounts of six of them can enter a person’s blood stream after just one day of use, and last in the blood stream for seven to 21 days.
Though it’s not clear how harmful some of these chemicals are if absorbed, studies have found both oxybenzone and octinoxate in breast milk. Other studies suggest a link between oxybenzone, which is absorbed into the blood, and some endocrine abnormalities such as lower testosterone levels in teen boys, hormone changes in men and shorter pregnancies.
These findings do not mean that the FDA has concluded that any of the ingredients tested are unsafe for use in sunscreens, nor does the FDA seeking further information indicate such. The agency’s proposed rule requested additional safety studies to fill in the current data gaps for these ingredients. The rule also proposed that two active ingredients (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) are generally recognized as safe and effective for use in sunscreens, and additional data was not requested for them.