With summer weather comes sunshine, bathing suits, days at the beach, and vacations.
We understand the importance of sunscreen and sun protection.
Great skin is 90% prevention and 10% correction. Although there are many effective avenues to correcting skin concerns, you can save thousands of dollars by investing in preventative skin care.
In this post you will find information on sunscreen, sun damage, and debunking myths.
The Almost Naked Truth on Sun Damage....
The energy from UV rays can damage molecules in the skin, including DNA. One consequence of this is the creation of different proteins and enzymes. The effects of these proteins lead to dilation of blood vessels and increased production of inflammatory cells. This, in turn, produces sunburn's characteristic redness, swelling and pain. Once the signal of excessive radiation exposure is initiated, it generally takes four to six hours for these proteins to generate. Sunburn symptoms thus don't appear until well after exposure. (DNA damage can also result in the destruction of the involved skin cell. This is one of the reasons why skin peels after a bad sunburn.)
The body does have mechanisms to repair damaged DNA after ultraviolet exposure. But as the frequency of sunlight exposure increases, so, too, does the probability that some of that damage will escape repair. This mutated DNA may eventually lead to skin cancer.
UV light causes photoaging in the form of brown spots, coarse skin and wrinkles, whether you have burned your skin or not. When sunlight comes in contact with skin a cascade of damage results (including the stripping of barrier lipids) causing inflammation, production of reactive oxygen molecules that affect healthy cell growth, and stimulation of collagen destructing enzymes. A tan may be a popular summer look, but it indicates damage.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
More and more we hear about physicians prescribing tanning beds as a solution to S.A.D. Tanning salons tout their services as a treatment for SAD, though the ultraviolet radiation (UVR) they produce is not a component of light therapy, the most effective treatment.
“People often think of sunbathing as the antidepressant essence of light exposure. Wrong! Light therapy acts through the eyes, and requires visible light, not UV,” says Michael Terman, PhD, Director of the Center for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms, Columbia University Medical Center, New York City.
Since UV light is not a treatment for SAD, those affected with this disease are only putting their health at risk for skin cancer by visiting a tanning salon. Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is a proven human carcinogen. Indoor ultraviolet (UV) tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors. The indoor tanning industry has annual estimated revenue of $5 billion.
Let's Talk Skin Science!
UVA, UVB, Free Radicals, and SPF
UVA rays (the aging rays) are the longest rays in the spectrum, and they penetrate deeper into the skin. UVA rays are responsible for causing damage at the cellular level, making them responsible for most skin cancers and the cause of the signs of aging in the form of wrinkles and pigment spots. UVB rays (the burning rays) are shorter than UVA rays, and are responsible for the actual “burn” or “tan” response in skin.
Both UVA and UVB rays can cause cancer, so wearing an SPF that shields skin against both is critical.
Ultraviolet rays generate free radicals (molecules that have gained or lost an electron) that wreak havoc on cellular material. They are capable of altering not only the DNA (genetic
material of all living cells) but may also affect membranes surrounding skin cells, destroy or alter enzymes and proteins required for cellular metabolism and affect amino acids (the building blocks of proteins). Free radicals can ultimately result in the formation of sun-induced skin cancers.
Sunscreens work by absorbing damaging ultraviolet rays (chemical sunscreens) or by reflecting and scattering ultraviolet rays (physical sunscreens).
The SPF represents the ability of a sunscreen to delay sun- induced burning or erythema. It is important to realize that an SPF is only a measure of how much UVB protection a product provides. Unfortunately, a similar system of denoting sunscreen protection from UVA radiation has not been universally recognized.
- Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than 3.5 million skin cancers in over two million people are diagnosed annually.1
- Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.2
- One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime
- Actinic keratosis is the most common precancer; it affects more than 58 million Americans.6
- Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer; an estimated 2.8 million are diagnosed annually in the US.8 BCCs are rarely fatal, but can be highly disfiguring if allowed to grow
- Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer.9 An estimated 700,000 cases are diagnosed each year in the US,10 resulting in approximately 2,500 deaths
- One person dies of melanoma every hour (every 62 minutes).2
- One in 55 people will be diagnosed with melanoma during their lifetime.14
- Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for young people 15-29 years old.15
- The survival rate for patients whose melanoma is detected early, before the tumor has penetrated the skin, is about 99 percent.16 The survival rate falls to 15 percent for those with advanced disease.2
- The vast majority of mutations found in melanoma are caused by ultraviolet radiation
What to buy?!
There are over 1800 products on the market to choose from, making it incredibly confusing and difficult to pick the best and safest brand. Here’s what you need to watch out for:
- Oxybenzone - this is a hormone disrupting chemical which penetrates the skin and enters the bloodstream. It is the most popular ingredient in chemical based sunscreens and only blocks UVB ray (sun’s good rays that provide vitamin D production), not UVA which are the most free radical damaging rays. Avoid any sunscreen that has this chemical at all costs, especially for children.
- Vitamin A (Retinyl Palmitate) – A 2009 study by U.S. government scientists released by the National Toxicology Program found when this is applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight, it may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions.
- Fragrance – Sure it may make the product smell nice, but this is a petroleum based product that is linked to organ toxicity and allergies.
- High SPF – The FDA does not regulate SPF higher than 50 and there’s no scientific proof they work better than lower SPF. Many of the higher SPFs do not provide any additional protection and studies have suggested that users are exposed to as many or more ultraviolet rays as those who use lower-SPF products.
- Sprays or Powders – Generally speaking, sprays and powders have additional chemicals added to them for performance purposes. These additional chemicals are usually not something you want to be spraying on your body and can be toxic to the lungs. Besides, remember sunscreen is formulated for your skin, not your lungs. Many of the side effects of sprays and powders on the lungs are not tested before being approved.
- Popular Conventional Brands - Aveeno, Banana Boat, Coppertone Sport, Coppertone Water Babies, Bull Frog, Neutragena, Storebrands (CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens), Hawaiian Tropic and many other popular brands are rated the worst in terms of safety in the Environmental Working Group’s Sunscreen Guide. You can use this guide to find out how good or bad the brand you have or want to buy is rated.
How To Choose A Safe Sunscreen:
- Look for titanium dioxide and zinc oxide based mineral sunscreens, which do not penetrate the skin and provide UVA protection against the sun’s most damaging rays.
- Choose sunscreens that are unscented or use essential oils as fragrance
- Pick lotion based sunscreens with water resistance
- Pick broad spectrum sunscreens that protect against UVA and UVB rays
- Choose sunscreen products that are rated 0-2 in the Environmental Working Group’s Sunscreen Guide.