Does this photo overwhelm you? It does me. It is the sunscreen section at Walmart in May 2017. If you don’t live in Fairmont, please be slow to judge. In our town, Walmart still is the go to store for a lot of people. I scoured the whole thing and took lots of pictures. Good news is that the selection is better than usual. Hope to save you some time and give you confidence when picking sunscreen for the summer.
The most common question I am asked is …What SPF should I get?
Actually, as you will read I care more about the active ingredients than the SPF, here’s why…
SPF measures the length of time a product protects against skin reddening from UVB, compared to how long the skin takes to redden without protection. If it takes 20 minutes without protection to begin reddening, using an SPF 15 sunscreen theoretically prevents reddening 15 times longer – about 5 hours. (Actually, it may take up to 24 hours after sun exposure for redness to become visible.) To maintain the SPF, reapply sunscreen every two hours and right after swimming.
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends SPFs of at least 15, which block 93 percent of UVB. While SPFs higher than 30 block only 4 percent more UVB, they are advisable for sun-sensitive individuals, skin cancer patients, and people at high risk of developing skin cancer. They also allow some margin for error if too little sunscreen is applied. Considering that the SPF is developed using a whole ounce to the entire body, most everyone does not apply enough sunscreen and does not get the full SPF suggested on the label.
While SPF is the universal measurement of UVB protection, no comparable standard exists for UVA. Scientists worldwide are working to develop a standardized testing and certification method to measure UVA protection. Also there is no effective measurement for protection against blue light HEV and Infrared that is now also known to be harmful.
Even with the ideal sunscreen, some UV rays can get through to your skin and cause damage. The Skin Cancer Foundation considers sunscreen one part of a comprehensive sun protection program, along with sun-protective clothing, sunglasses, shade, and sun avoidance from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M.
What kind of light is the most harmful?
UVB (Ultraviolet-B) Short-wave solar rays of 290-320 nanometers. More potent than UVA in producing sunburn, these rays are considered the main cause of basal and squamous cell carcinomas as well as a significant cause of melanoma.
UVA (Ultraviolet -A) Long-wave solar rays of 320-400 nanometers. Although less likely than UVB to cause sunburn, UVA penetrates the skin more deeply, and is considered the chief culprit behind wrinkling, leathering, and other aspects of “photoaging.” The latest studies show that UVA not only exacerbates UVB’s carcinogenic effects, but may directly induce some skin cancers, including melanomas.
The new issues to discuss include not just UV protection but also protection from HEV and Infrared rays. Increasing data suggests that these sources of light cause addition damage to the skin.
HEV? (High-energy visible (HEV) radiation) This radiation, also known as “blue light,” actually includes light from 400-500nm, and it can be just as harmful to skin, leading to inflammation, impaired healing, wrinkling and discoloration. Most common sources of HEV include computer, television , phone and ipad screens. Studies have shown that melanin (the pigment our body naturally makes) is the best protector against HEV in the skin. A number of sunscreens are starting to incorporate melanin in them to block against HEV.
IR (Infrared radiation) Infrared radiation is what provides that warm sensation in the sun. According to the atlas of science “ The spectrum of solar radiation reaching the Earth is divided as follows: 6.8% UV, 38.9% visible, and 54.3% near infrared radiation (NIR). IR has been divided into three bands: IR-A (760–1400 nm), IR-B (1400–3000 nm), and IR-C (3000 nm – 1 mm) . IR radiation can penetrate in and under the skin depending on the exact wavelength range being studied. Exposure to IR is perceived as heat.” There is still some scientific disagreement about the extent of the impact of infrared exposure on the skin. At this time, we can say that protection against IR is a plus. The new generation of ZO Skin Health sunscreens we carry is one of the few that protect against IR.
MY FAVORITE PICKS!
I recommend an SPF>30. Make sure the bottle says that it protects against UVA and UVB, preferably 100% of UVA and UVB. Remember that sunscreens generally wear off or the chemical breaks down in 2 hours. So sunscreen needs to be reapplied throughout the day. CHECK THE ACTIVE INGREDIENTS! I particularly like sunscreens containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Zinc and titanium are physical barriers that work much better and last longer than the chemical sunscreens. Zinc has a more complete and broader coverage than Titanium. Sunscreens that incorporate melanin also block against HEV.
To say that I am super picky about sunscreen is an understatement. There are so many great choices. I work hard to find ones that meet individual needs. We carry things that are not easily commercially available in our Spring Boutique. Feel free to stop in and try them out.
Chemical Free For the face (Zinc and Titanium): Fallene SPF 58 and ZO Skin Health Sunscreens. Both of these are available in our office. The ZO Skin Health products also protect against HEV and IR.
Chemical Free for the Body: Cerave Face and Body SPF 50, Neutrogena Pure & free Baby, Neutrogena Sensitive skin PureScreen, , Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection, Yes to Cucumbers Natural Sunscreen SPF 30 and 40, Safe Harbor SPF 50 Sensitive Lotion, Hang Ten Kids Mineral 50, Goddess Garden Organics, Australian Gold Mineral Lotion, Blue Lizard, These are the ones I found on my recent trip to our local Walmart.
For KIDS – I have found a few that my kids actually don’t mind using… Glitter Tots Sparkle Suncreen multiple different glitter colors and scents is available in the office. Girls love it! Also my kids love being able to put on their own sunscreen with sunscreen sticks. I like …Neutrogena’s Pure Baby Sunscreen Stick the best, but others include Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Stick. Both available at Walmart.
Spray Sunscreens WITH Chemicals: In hard to treat areas like the scalp and ears, a spray is better than nothing at all. Make sure you rub it in after spraying. Neutrogena Fresh Cooling and UltraSheer Body Mist Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 70,
Spray Sunscreen WITH Zinc – Elta MD UV Aero SPF 45 . Available in our office the convenience of a spray and the efficacy of Zinc combined!
Natural Sunscreen PLUS bug repellent – Jungle Screen . Available in our office.
In addition to the traditional sun protection agents, I have a few new ones and a few that were new to us last year.
Klenskin Shower on SPF. Available in a shampoo, body wash and bar soap. I think this is a great addition for men who hate to use sunscreen. Wash in the morning before you head out for golf or work. This exciting new technology provides SPF 20-30 with 80 minutes of water resistance. It functions as a base layer of protection. If someone is in the sun for an extended period of time they will need to reapply a traditional sunscreen. These products do include chemical sunscreens, but they are encapsulated to minimize interaction of the chemicals with the skin.
UVO Sun Protection Drink I am so excited about this amazing and honestly delicious drink. Drink one bottle or powder pack (1) before sun exposure for 3-5 hours of sun protection from head to toe including your eyes, (2) after overexposure to the sun to help soothe the skin, and (3) daily to repair years of sun damage, provide anti-aging benefits, beautify the skin and promote overall health and wellness. UVO was made for everyone who is exposed to the sun—especially those with an active, outdoor lifestyle. The basic scientific premise is the use of a fern Polypodium leucotomos extract, which has been available for many years in a pill formulation called Heliocare. UVO adds a number of other antioxidants as well.
A wide brimmed hat and protective clothing are also great. I recommend the Coolibar website (www.coolibar.com) for protective clothing. Look for the Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Approval on Sun Protection Products (www.skincancer.org).Protect the eye area further by wearing sunglasses or contacts that block 100% of UVA and UVB.
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