Secrets of Young-Looking Summer Skin
The sun is both your friend and your foe. You need some sun exposure, because that’s how your body makes vitamin D. But too much exposure has an aging effect on your skin. Dry, wrinkled skin – and much worse – can result.
But the information on sunscreen products is confusing. You’re constantly told to use them… but experts also question their safety or effectiveness on a regular basis. And which type of sunscreen is better – chemical or physical?
Yes, that’s a serious question. Chemical sunscreens are absorbed into your skin to provide protection. Physical sunscreens form a barrier on the surface of your skin.
So what are “physical” sunscreen products? They’re the descendants of the “face paint” lifeguards used to wear. These sunscreens use particles of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to reflect damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays away from your skin.
These reflective-type sunscreens offer several advantages. First, they start working as soon as you put them on. Chemical sunscreens typically require 30 – 45 minutes to take effect.
Physical sunscreens also don’t penetrate your skin. So they don’t pose the same risk as chemical sunscreen products. Some ingredients in chemical sunscreens are potentially dangerous. For example, oxybenzone – found in many chemical sunscreen products -may affect your body’s hormone balance.1
And don’t worry about the white, chalky look lifeguards used to sport. Physical sunscreens aren’t as obvious as in the old days. Most of these products now make use of nanoparticles – tiny particles of reflective material that are nearly invisible on your skin.
Nanoparticles have raised some concerns lately. But their use in sunscreens has been studied extensively in the U.S., Europe and Australia. These studies show the tiny particles in sunscreens stay on the surface of your skin.
However, your lungs aren’t good at clearing such tiny particles if they’re inhaled. So I’d stay away from spray-on sunscreens.
Some critics also worry the minerals used in sunscreens may release damaging free radicals. But the particles used are coated to prevent this potential problem.
Finally, here are a few handy tips to help in choosing a sunscreen product…
The SPF – Sun Protection Factor – only refers to how much UVB light (the sun’s “burning” rays) the product blocks. Look for a full-spectrum sunscreen for protection for protection from both UVB and UVA.
A rating of SPF 15 indicates a product blocks about 93% of UVB rays. An SPF 30 product blocks about 97%. There’s not much reason to choose a product rated above SPF 30.
The Food and Drug Administration only rates one sunscreen ingredient as providing extensive protection from both UVA and UVB light – zinc oxide. (Titanium dioxide blocks a little less UVA.)
The average light-skinned person only needs about 15 – 20 minutes of sun on their face and arms to get a day’s worth of vitamin D. Beyond filling that need, using a safe and effective sunscreen product is a smart idea. It can help keep your skin looking young and healthy years longer.
Yours in continued good health,
Best Life Herbals Wellness Team
1 Schlumpf, M., et al, “In vitro and in vivo estrogenicity of UV screens,” Environ Health Perspect. Mar 2001; 109(3): 239-244.
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