SPF – Sunscreen Ingredients
Why Question Your Sunscreen?
In the 1970’s tanning was all the rage and to help it along tanning sunbeds and oil was encouraged to get a nice deep tan. It is only in the past couple decades that sunscreens have become a must have in your makeup bag. However it is only now people are questioning what is in it and rightfully so.
These are the founding issues with current conventional sunscreens:
Chemical sunscreens are being absorbed into the blood which can then act like estrogen and disrupt hormones. Some can even be detected in a mother’s breast milk (but in a small percentage).
Both chemical and physical sunscreens can contain ingredients which irritate the skin.
Most importantly it is not as regulated with rigorous safety standards due to research into it having only just begun.
So what should we know? Here are the basics.
Physical Sunscreen and Chemical Sunscreen
There are two types of sun protections; Physical sunscreen (mineral) which deflects/blocks the sun and chemical sunscreen which absorbs it.
They both contain active ingredients to filter the UV rays. There is no single ingredient that protects against the full spectrum. Where chemical sunscreeen contain 2-6 ingredients, physical contain two kinds; titanium dioxide and zinc oxide which have no free radicals. For those with sensitive skin there are many ingredients that can cause skin irritation however zinc oxide tends to be known the safest.
Nanoparticle Form of Mineral Sunscreen
“Nanoparticle form — which means ultra-fine specs of material used in sunscreens to block or “scatter” the sun’s rays.” (Time magazine)
The larger the particles the better UVA protection but the smaller the better SPF. At the moment sunscreen producers are trying to create the right balance in the size of the particles. At the same time there has been discussion on whether the smaller particles can enter the bloodstream. No conclusive evidence as of yet has been made.
For more information see http://www.ewg.org/2014sunscreen/nanoparticles-in-sunscreen/
Ingredients – what do they do?
Curtesy of the dermatology website to understand what the different ingredients do see below:
Common active ingredients of sunblock and the type of UV light blocked:
|Active Ingredient||Type of UV radiation blocked|
|Phenylbenzimidazole sulfonic acid||UV-B|
|*Titanium dioxide||UV-A/B, broad spectrum|
|*Zinc oxide*Mexoryl SX||UV-A/B, broad spectrum|
* Avobenzone, zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, mexoryl sx: These ingredients are graded low on EWG hazard score.
*** Oxybenzone, Homosalate, Octyl methoxycinnamate, PABA: Synthetic hormones that can play with the horomone system and affect fertility and are linked to cancer. These ingredients are graded high on EWG hazard score.
For an organic specified sunscreen list: http://www.organicauthority.com/delicious-beauty/safe-natural-sunscreen-brands.html
For EWG recommended list: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/browse/sunscreen:+SPF+greater+than+30/
For skin cancer foundation recommended list: http://www.skincancer.org/products?SubCategoryId=1
What to Avoid
Sunscreens containing vitamin A which can be titled as retinyl palmitate and retinol. Government studies are showing it speeds up the process of developing skin cancer. Best eat food with vitamin A and not lather it on.
Using sunscreen and mosquito spray at the same time. It would mean doubling up chemicals on skin. If necessary place mosquito spray on first.
Oils offer less protection than creams and lotions and can be toxic. On that note avoid sunscreen sprays as well for you would breathe in the chemicals.
What To Take from This
– Mineral sunscreens are less hazardous to the skin and do not absorb into it either.
-Avoid tanning oils, vitamin A containing products, and using mosquito spray at the same time.
-There are hundreds of sunscreens on the market – Go for the one recommeneded by a dermatologist or from a skin cancer awareness website.
-The sun is not completely evil – Enjoy at least 10-20 mins a day of unprotected sun to get your full vitamin D.