We are midway through another summer under Florida’s blazing sun. While our daily dose of super sunshine is a good reason for outdoor fun, I want to be sure you are taking care of your body’s largest organ: Your skin.
So today, we’re going to discuss sunscreens. Brace yourselves, because we are first going to spend a little time in science class (yawn).
Here we go…
Sunscreens are intended to prevent cancer-causing free radicals from entering your body through your skin. Sunshine is radiation, streaming to earth from the sun in a potent combination of bright light and radiant heat. This gets filtered through our planet’s atmosphere, but remains unblocked by clouds.
Sunscreens also provide protection from ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet light breaks down into three distinct components:
•UV-A, which penetrates deeply into the skin, and can lead to cancer and premature aging.
•UV-B, which is involved in tanning and burning of your skin.
•UV-C, which is completely absorbed by the earth’s atmosphere.
UV-A and UV-B are the problems. Most sunscreens contain organic or chemical compounds that offer protection by absorbing ultraviolet radiation and allowing it to escape the body as heat. These organic compounds are:
•PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid), which absorb UVB
•Cinnamates, which absorb UVB
•Benzophenones, which absorb UVA
•Anthranilates, which absorb UVA and UVB
•Ecamsules, which absorb UVA
Let’s simplify this by saying sunscreens contain either mineral or chemical components. Mineral sunscreens use Titanium dioxide (TiO2) or Zinc oxide (ZnO) as the UV Filter. Chemical sunscreens use active ingredients such as Oxybenzone, which is both a hormone disruptor and a likely photo carcinogen, meaning sunlight causes it to mutate. Mineral sunscreens protect your skin from UV rays by deflecting or blocking the sun’s rays. Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the sun’s rays.
Also, mineral sunscreens do not produce free radicals, while some chemical sunscreens do, which can cause premature aging of your skin.
Be aware that there are sunscreens made up of all natural ingredients such as grape seed oil, sunflower oil, green tea, beeswax, macadamia oil, aloe vera, cucumber extract, bladderwrack extract and other plant extracts. Just be careful and watch the prices.
Okay … end of science class.
So, what’s the solution? In the interest of going green to get brown, here’s what I recommend:
•Avoid chemically-based sunscreens, especially those with Vitamin A.
•Choose a mineral-based sunscreen containing either titanium or zinc.
•A sunscreen rated at SPF 30 should be sufficient for full day protection.
•One application is never enough; Re-apply throughout the day (every two hours is good).
•Avoid spray sunscreens, which your skin will absorb. Lotions provide greater coverage and staying power.
Go green, get brown and have fun, fun, fun in the Florida sun- at least until Daddy takes the T-Bird away!