No wonder we're confused
Sunscreen was created to help filter out the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation and keep it from reaching the skin. Radiation will damage your skin, cause premature aging and increase your risk of skin cancer. When you enter a drugstore you will see lots of sunscreen choices. But which one is the right for you? What’s safe, what’s not. There are a lot of myths about SPF levels. Some times it can get very confusing. Let's find the one that’s just right for you.
UVA, UVB What does that even mean?
There are two types of sun radiation--UVA and UVB. UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply than the UVB rays and are associated with skin wrinkling, leathering, sagging and other photo-aging effects. UVB Rays on the other hand are the cause of sunburn and skin cancer. So the idea is to filter out these potentially damaging rays in a convenient and non-intrusive way.
What’s your number?
A lot of confusion surrounds the SPF or Sun Protection Factor number. Created to give sun worshipers a guide as to how long they can expect to be protected from the harmful rays, this is an area where everyone needs to be better educated.
Here’s a little more insight about SPF. It takes about 20 minutes for your UNPROTECTED skin to start turning red. Theoretically, if you apply SPF 15 sunscreen before sun exposure, it should take “15” times longer", or about 4-5 hours, before your skin turns red. Get it? SPF x 20 minutes = approximate time in hours/minutes of protection. Of course, it depends on the sun’s intensity (tropical sun is more intense than most places) and your particular skin tolerance.
Most people believe that sunscreens have to be 30 and up to really provide sun protection but that is not true. Most sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher do an excellent job.
A shocking secret about SPF
Here’s where most people make a logical mistake. It is logical to assume that if SPF 20 is good, then SPF 50 should be two and a half times better right? Makes perfect sense unless you do your research. (By the way, companies who make SPF 30, 40 & 50 know this already but they’re counting on you NOT taking the time to learn it).
Here are the shocking facts. SPF 15 filters out approximately 94% of all incoming UV rays. SPF 20 keeps out 97% of all UV rays. Are you ready for the real shocker? SPF 30 keeps out 97% and SPF 50 keeps out only 1% more than the SPF 30 sunscreen! Crazy??? You bet and I’m guessing you’re shaking your head right now in disbelief. After all, you trusted these people to steer you straight and now you find out they’ve been misleading you all this time.
Look, no sunscreen can block ALL UV rays regardless their strength. The emphasis in this article is that regardless the strength ALL sunscreens have to be reapplied several times a day when you are exposed to direct sunshine for more than 2 hours. No sunscreen should be expected to be effective longer than two hours without reapplication.
Most experts recommend avoiding direct sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. local time but seriously, isn’t that exactly the time of day you want to be on the beach or around the pool? Yep. Me too. So just know that beyond SPF 20, you’re getting 1% more protection and probably paying a lot more for it. Now that you know, you can make an informed choice next time you’re in that aisle at the store.
Who Should Use Sunscreen?
Anyone that is going to be exposed more than 15 minutes to direct sunshine should use sunscreen. But you can even get a burn during partly cloudy and cloudy days so it’s a good idea to apply it whenever your plans take you outdoors during the spring and summer months. Adults and children with highly sensitive skins should probably always use sunscreen.
What type of Sunscreen should you use?
There are several websites filled with research and opinions when it comes to cancer, sun exposure and sunscreen ingredients. Here’s a dirty little secret that you may have heard but it bears repeating. There is some evidence that some of the sunscreens themselves may cause skin cancer. Should you wear a SPF 30-50 sunscreen to safeguard every inch of your body from the damaging UV rays or should the real cause of cancer fears be the sunscreen ingredients themselves?
The EWG’s Guide to Safer Sunscreen 2014 chose the sunscreens that should NEVER make it into your suitcase, beach bag or backpack.
No spray sunscreens
No super high SPFs
No retinyl palmitate
No combination sunscreen (bug and sun protection), powders or towelettes
No Tanning oil
Here are the details:
No spray sunscreens
The super-popular aerosolized sunscreens may present serious inhalation risks. Even the FDA has expressed concern about the safety of these products.
Avoid products with super-high SPFs
Products with high SPFs may protect against sunburn but could also leave your skin unprotected to very damaging UVA Rays.According to the EWG’s 2014 report, fifteen of the sunscreens evaluated brag about SPFs higher than 50+. These products may give people a false sense of security. EWG’s recommends that consumers avoid products labeled higher than SPF 50 and reapply the sunscreen every 2 hours regardless of SPF.
The chemical Oxybenzone is commonly used in sunscreens. It penetrates the skin into the bloodstream and performs like estrogen in the body. It also can trigger allergic reactions. Several studies have linked high concentrations of Oxybenzone and health harms. More than 40% of all beach and sport sunscreens contain Oxybenzone.
No retinyl palmitate
When used at night cream this form of vitamin A is supposed to have anti-aging effects. But on sun-exposed skin, it may speed development of skin tumors and lesions according to government studies. Look out for your moisturizers too.
No combined Suncreen/bug repellant
It is best to skip products that combine different actions. WHY? Sunscreen needs to be reapplied frequently and studies suggest that combining sunscreens and repellent lead to increase skin absorption of the repellent ingredients.
No sunscreen powders or towelettes
They are already banned by the FDA but there are some still on the market. Why not to buy them? First of all, because of their dubious sun protection and second, any powders or aerosols are easy to inhale so they can cause lung irritation or other harm. Stay away from them.
NO tanning oils
Tanning oils offer very small sun protection if any. Don’t buy products with SPF lower than 15, nor those without ZINC OXIDE for UVA protection. Avoid titanium oxide too. Titanium dioxide has recently been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as an IARC Group 2B carcinogen ''possibly carcinogen to humans''.
For all these reasons and more, My Skin’s Friend has developed the perfect Organic-SPF 20 Sunscreen using organic zinc oxide and hand filleted Aloe Vera to really protect and moisturize your skin at the same time without compromising your health with added dangerous chemicals.