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 Annual 2012

Annual 2012


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Make Sense of Sunscreen

Protect Your Skin

      Thanks to new sunscreen regulations, consumers can hit the great outdoors with more knowledge on how to prevent skin cancer and avoid painful sunburns.
      In June, the Federal Drug Administration introduced several new rules for sunscreen labels that will go into effect in 2012. These new regulations aim to better protect consumers from the effects of the sun’s ultraviolet rays and prevent companies from misleading claims such as their sunscreens are “waterproof” or “sweatproof.”
      “Anyone over the age of 6 months should use a sunscreen daily,” says Debbie Spalla, a licensed esthetician and owner of Skin Deep, a skin
care and treatment center in Alameda. “People mistakenly believe they only need sunscreen during the summer months, but it’s important to be protected from the sun no matter the time of day, season or weather.”
      Wearing sunscreen on a daily basis can also protect you from the sun’s rays while driving or if you work near an office window.
      “UVA rays can penetrate glass and are present all year long, where UVB rays are the chief culprits behind sunburns,” Spalla says. “These [UVA]rays, which penetrate the skin more deeply, are associated with wrinkling, leathering, sagging and other effects of photoaging. Studies have shown that office employees who have worked near a window for many years sustain sun damage on the side of their face nearest the window.”
      To protect against sun damage, Spalla advises using a sunscreen that offers broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection. She recommends looking for a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide and/or titanium  dioxide, ingredients that absorb and reflect UV away from the skin.
      Sunscreens come in two types: chemical and mineral. For those seeking a natural sunscreen, made with organic and mineral sunblocks and free of worrisome ingredients that can be absorbed through the skin, Marie Veronique Organics in Berkeley offers a variety of safe and locally manufactured sunscreen options.
      “Our sunscreens are made without harmful chemicals like parabens, petroleum products, fillers, waxes or fragrances and are 100 percent vegan,” says Marie Veronique Nadeau, a former high school chemistry teacher and licensed esthetician. “Our sunscreens also contain non-nano zinc oxide, the safest and most effective active sunscreen ingredient that doesn’t break down when exposed to the sun.”
     For people who want to reap the health benefits of Vitamin D without incurring sunburn, Nadeau recommends getting 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure around the middle of the day on a daily basis.
     “Vitamin D has been proven to be essential for good bone health,” Nadeau says. “While moderate exposure can be beneficial, excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays can have detrimental health effects including possible sunburn and skin cancer.”

      Look for sunscreens containing zinc and titanium oxide, which aren’t absorbed into the skin and also reflect the sun. Choose broad-spectrum sunscreens, which protect against harmful UVA and UVB rays.

    The Environmental Working Group recommends avoiding sunscreens containing oxybenzone, calling it a “potential hormone disruptor,” although studies haven’t linked it conclusively to negative health effects. In January of 2011, a key independent science advisory panel voted to confirm federal researchers’ conclusion that retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A found in two-fifths of U.S. sunscreens, speeds the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight.

Tips for Picking the Best Sunscreen

•    Each year, just before Memorial Day weekend, the Environmental Working Group rates more than 1,700 sunscreens based on safety and effectiveness. To see its most current product list, www.ewg.org.

•    Still have sunscreen questions? “A lot of women have dry or oily skin and suffer from conditions such as acne or rosacea,” Debbie Spalla of Skin Deep says. “They don’t want to use a variety of
different products or to use a sunscreen that might exacerbate their other skin conditions.” Spalla says that a licensed esthetician can help determine the best sunscreen for individual skin type. To locate an esthetician, visit www.ascpskincare.com.

•    Experts say that most people use less than half as much sunscreen as they should. You should apply enough sunscreen to cover all of your exposed areas. Use 1 ounce (2 to 3 tablespoons) to cover your entire body, and apply sunscreen 30 minutes before you go outdoors.

•    When looking at an SPF number, remember this equation: If your skin would normally burn in 10 minutes in the afternoon sun without any sun protection, and you applied a sunscreen with a SPF of 15, you multiply the SPF factor and the number of minutes it takes you to burn without sunscreen (15 X 10 = 150 minutes). Most dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen with a SPF of at least 15 every day.

•    Heard the buzz about European sunscreens? In Europe, many sunscreens contain a UVA-blocking ingredient called Tinosorb M, which is unapproved in America. Such European sunscreens are made by brands such as La Roche-Posay (in France), Ombrelle, Eau Thermale Avene and Bioderma. Many consumers swear by the effectiveness of these sunscreens, and while these sunscreens aren’t available in the United States, they can be purchased through online retailers such as www.amazon.com.


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