Protecting your skin from damaging UVA/UVB rays is crucial to retaining youthful, beautiful skin. Over exposure to the sun can lead to premature aging of the skin, wrinkles, brown spots, sun damage, and sagging skin as well as increase your risk of skin cancer.
While sunscreen is always recommended when you will be outside in the sun, some are better than others. Have you ever wondered why there are signs that say ‘No Sunscreens Allowed’ at specific beaches where you can swim with dolphins? It is because of the chemicals in some sunscreens that wash off in the water are harmful to dolphins and the whole ecosystem surrounding the beach. Can you imagine the impact those sunscreens have when applied directly to human skin?
Some of these chemicals are listed on government database as toxic pesticides, are free radical generators that penetrate through the skin, have been implicated in causing cancer, and may play a role in cellular DNA damage as skin sensitizers.
Most of these chemicals can easily penetrate into and through the skin. They are designed to absorb ultraviolet radiation energy. Because they cannot destroy or reflect this energy, the radiation converts the light energy into chemical energy which is released as free radicals. Free radicals then react with other molecules and produce damage to the fats, proteins, and DNA of the cells – the types of damage that produces skin aging and the development of cancer.
Whether or not it is cloudy outside or even the middle of winter, always protect your skin with a physical block sunscreen. Physical blocking sunscreen (i.e. titanium dioxide & zinc oxide) work by reflecting or scattering UV radiation. Physical blockers are effective both UVA & UVB radiation. They are made of inert metals that sit on the skin and are not absorbed. Physical blockers do not wear off or break down as quickly as chemical blockers, but are susceptible to washing off with water or sweat.
While some protected, limited exposure to the sun is beneficial, overexposure is easy to do! Here are more ways to protect your skin from overexposure to the sun!
- 80% of UV rays can penetrate through clouds
- 95% of the visible signs of aging are associated with UV exposure
- Generously apply a physical block sunscreen with a SPF of at least 15 that provides broad spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays
- Reapply every 2 hours, even on cloudy days and after swimming or sweating
- Wear protective clothing like hats, sunglasses, long-sleeve shirts, and long pants.
- Don’t forget to protect your feet! Apply sunscreen to your feet or wear shoes that cover
- Limit your time in the sun, especially from 10am-2pm
- Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun and increase your chance of a sunburn.
- Always use sunscreen to protect children’s skin from damage and reapply as often as needed
- Avoid sun tanning and tanning beds. Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause wrinkling and skin cancer. If you want to look tan, consider using a sunless self-tanner, but continue to use sunscreen
Photo Credit Boudewijn Berends
Sunscreen Chemicals to Avoid
Benzophenone (dioxybenxone, oxybenzone) is a registered pesticide. It creates environmental toxicity and is harmful to humans, dolphins and aquatic ecosystems. One of the most powerful free radical generators known and is an endocrine disruptor with persistent bioaccumulation.
Avobenzone is also known as Parsol 1789 and is a powerful free radical generator that is easily absorbed through the skin. In sunlight, avobenzone degrades and becomes ineffective in about 1 hour meaning that it must be mixed with more powerful toxic chemical UVA absorbers to have any lasting effect.
Cinnamates (cinoxate, ethylhexyl p-methoxycinnamate, octocrylene, octyl methoxycinnamate) UVB absorbers that show mutation results in cellular structure tests.
PABA and PABA esthers (ethyl dihydroxy propyl PABA, glyceryl PABA, p-amino benzoic acid, padimate-) or octyl dimethyl PABA) absorb UV rays and break down releasing a chemical reaction resulting in free radical generation and broken DNA strands. It has also been shown to have estrogenic activity and causes allergic reactions in some people.