Skin Smart Summer
Western cultures are borderline irrational about the slightest exposure of unprotected skin to sunshine due to the reputation between skin cancer and exposure to sun. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently advises that ultraviolet light, therefore sunlight, is so hazardous we should “protect ourselves against ultraviolet light whenever we can see our shadow”.
Still, sun exposure is crucial for being healthy and basic to our body’s ability to make vitamin D. Partly because of current recommendations, we are witnessing vitamin D levels decline and related health problems increase.
Evidence is strong that vitamin D protects against osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, bone fractures (vitamin D strengthens muscles which improve balance & movement thereby preventing falls), cancer, hypertension, metabolic functions, diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis and vulnerability to infections. Mice bred for susceptibility to multiple sclerosis have been completely protected against development of this disease when given high doses of vitamin D.
Darker complexions need more exposure to sunshine – up to 45 mins of uninterrupted sunshine daily. Living more indoors combined with living in CNY …that can be a challenge so supplementation is usually recommended.
Even so heeding EPA’s advisory to “protect ourselves against ultraviolet light whenever we can see our shadow”, we spread copious amounts of products claiming to do just that – protect us from the sun, but many contain ingredients called absorption enhancers which allow for greater assimilation and when combined with sunshine actually make us more sensitive to the sun increasing our exposure and contributing to skin cancer!!
Here are a handful of points to remember concerning Sunscreens:
Choose sunscreens with zinc and titanium; the right choice for children or people with sensitive skin and those who want the best UVA protection without possible hormone-disrupting chemicals like oxybenzone or vitamin A, which may be carcinogenic on sun-exposed skin. Do not choose sprays or loose powders, so they don’t pose inhalation dangers.
Avoid vitamin A-laden sunscreen products most use a form of vitamin A, called retinyl palmitate; recent scientific research done by the federal Food and Drug Administration indicates the chemical may be photocarcinogenic – that it may heighten skin cancer risk when used on sun-exposed skin.
You may assume that an SPF 30 sunscreen offers double the protection of an SPF 15, actually the difference is slight, SPF 15 blocks 93 percent of rays, while SPF 30 blocks 97 percent.
Ratings above SPF 30 don’t offer more UV protection, they let the same 3 percent of UV rays through as an SPF 30 sunscreen.
SPF 30 offers adequate protection when extended sun exposure is expected and SPF 15 is suitable for everyday use.
Studies show that high-SPFs greater than 50+ give users a false sense of security exposing users to as much or more ultraviolet rays than people who use lower SPF products.
Still no federal sunscreen rules; the FDA stated its intention to regulate sunscreens over 20 years ago in 1978. While the policies are still in bureaucratic limbo, many sunscreen makers sell products that overstate sun protection and underperform in the real world so in the meanwhile select products with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide which are natural sunscreen ingredients, each of which is a key protective ingredient.
Note the terms “waterproof” and “sweat-proof” on sunscreen products more accurately means water- and sweat-resistant, they DO need to be reapplied after exercise or contact with water. “Sunblock” is not a completely accurate term as NO product can block all harmful rays.
Some sunscreen products display logos from the American Cancer Society (ACS). This does not indicate that the ACS has tested or endorses the sunscreen — the companies pay a royalty fee for the right to display the logo.
Be smart in the sun – enough to lightly brown but not enough to turn red or burn. The best sunscreen is a hat and a shirt or cotton gauze tops/pants as well as shade. No chemicals to absorb through the skin, no questions about whether they work and you get to create your own style!
** If you should burn sooth with equal parts water and apple cider vinegar in a spritz bottle – spray on hot skin and let dry for relief
As printed in Utica Phoenix Summer 2011
Beautiful You ~ Naturally is a monthly column for the Utica Phoenix focusing on natural beauty options from Garden Concoctions to Salon Industry Products sprinkled with updates on legislation pertaining to personal care products written by Christine Shahin, Licensed Cosmetologist, owner of Faces of Astarte & collaborator of Expressions Eco Salon for All Ethnicities. Christine@FacesofAstarte.com