Sunscreen: The 411 & Picks For Summer 2012
Days spent in the sun are here, so what better time to know what you should be wearing for protection! All sunscreens are NOT equal. Rachel Lerner gives the 411 when it comes to sunscreen.
According to Dr. John Douillard, Ayurveda practitioner, there are two main UV rays that are potentially harmful to the skin. They are UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are more harmful than the UVB rays. Though UVB rays are essential for good health in short doses, they are responsible for sunburns because they tend to stay on the skin’s surface. As a result, UVB rays were blamed for causing skin cancers. The SPF (skin protection factor) rating system measures the ability for a sunscreen to block UVB rays -not the more harmful UVA rays. In other words, a sunscreen with an SPF of 50 will block out all UVB rays but may not block any UVA rays.
Commercially, 3 out of 5 sunscreens do not adequately protect us against skin cancer-causing UVA rays. While sunscreen use has increased, so has the incidence of skin cancers. Skin cancer rates have soared to over a million cases per year in the United States. 2009 is the first year we are seeing sunscreens claiming protection against both UVA and UVB rays. But remember, the SPF on the label only guarantees protection from UVB, which are the “good rays”.
Most importantly, the UVB rays make Vitamin D, which protects the skin from the sun as well as the bones from osteoporosis. Low Vitamin D levels have also been linked to about 16 different cancers. Sunscreens, because they block UVB, have been reported to reduce Vitamin D levels in the blood by 97-99%, putting us all at great risk.
There are only a few active sunscreen ingredients that effectively block both UVA and UVB rays. The only ones that are both safe and effective for UVA and UVB protection are
zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which do not penetrate the skin. They block or reflect the sun.
Avoid sunscreens with Oxtinoxate, Octisalate, Oxybenzone or Homosalate.
These chemicals are toxic and they act as either irritants, allergens, hormone disruptors or carcinogens.
How to Find the Best Sunscreens:
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) just released their extensive 2012 Sunscreen Guide that includes vital information such as sun safety tips and ranking of the best sunscreens.
Top Photo: Flickr