Rambling, from the Sunscreen Evangelist

Rambling, from the Sunscreen Evangelist

Over the years much has been written about sunscreen, suncare and sun safety. In the last few years, sunscreen has become a hot and topical topic (no pun intended) and a wave of press is trying to change and educate people on sun safety. I have been making sunscreens for close to 30 years.

The problem is the message is still unclear: SPF 15, 30, 45, 60, 85, 100+++, if it’s bigger it must be better?

Again, many changes over the years, as SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is based on protection from the UVB rays, ie. To find the amount of protection, take the SPF minus 1, divided by the SPF and you will find the UVB protection percentage. So and SPF 30-1/30= 96.7% and an SPF 50-1/50= 98% UVB protection. So an SPF 50 offer 1.3% more protection than an SPF 30, the difference is, it takes an additional 10.5% more active ingredients to gain the 1.3% more protection.

In relation to time, up until a few years ago, it was thought a SPF 30 gives you 30x more protection than not wearing any sunscreen. So, if you burned in 10 minutes without sunscreen, you would have 300 minutes of protection. BUT, now Dermatologists and the FDA are saying, reapply every 2 hours, so the time determination is not being used, due to differences in skin tone, activity, perspiration and reaction to certain actives.

So what's the difference between UVA and UVB rays? UVA rays have a longer wavelength than UVB rays, and therefore carry less energy, but can penetrate farther into the skin. UVB rays have a shorter wavelength than UVA rays, and therefore carry more energy, but penetrate less deeply into the skin.

The UVB rays are the short rays that can give you the sunburn; think of UV B “burning” rays. We now know that UVA rays (long rays) mutate cells and aid in the breakdown of collagen, the elasticity of your skin and can cause skin cancer. Think of UV A “aging” rays. There are only a few ingredients that protect from “broad spectrum” UVA - Zinc oxide, Titanium dioxide (to some degree), Avobenzone (or Parsol 1789) and Mexoryl.

What about Organic? In chemistry, “organic” simply means chemical compounds associated with living species, specifically, a carbon backbone. Thus in chemistry, organic simply means “containing carbon,” while in the marketing world, “organic” often means “limited pesticides.”

In the sunscreen world you have “mineral” and “chemical” sunscreen. “Mineral” sunscreens typically refer to zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which are chemical compounds labeled “inorganic” because they do not contain carbon atoms in their overall structure.  Conversely, “chemical” sunscreens are made up of carbon-containing molecules that absorb light, and because they contain carbon, chemists refer to them as “organic.”

Titanium Dioxide & Zinc Oxide can be considered natural (for those who want to believe), in the sense they are mined from the earth, but crude Ti & Zn ores have to be purified via chemical & physical processes into pure mineral that are used in sunscreens. There is no amount of hammering you can do to make the minerals small enough to put into a cream- even "natural" marketed sunscreens comments on the process but than asks you, the buyer, if you believe it's chemical or mineral? http://www.badgerbalm.com/s-33-zinc-oxide-and...
Please note information on Zinc Oxide http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zinc_oxide. More info from a Zinc manufacturer: http://www.zincchemicals.umicore.com/.../SDclassification....

The new wave, or what I call “green washing,” of sunscreens all make claims like: Natural, All Natural, Honest, All Mineral, Chemical free, Non-chemical, Without Chemicals, Organic, and Natural Organic. We are all looking to protect our skin as safely as possible, but buying a product that claims to be “all natural” is misleading. One of the few natural sunscreens: mud, mud works as a natural sunscreen but it doesn’t look very nice on your skin. As humans, we are consumers and we’ve consumed this Earth. With the amount of pollution we’ve created, I’m not even sure mud would be organic?

The biggest marketing gem over the last few years has been "reef safe", I have numerous blogs on this subject but in short, NOTHING is reef safe, starting with human beings. https://www.busunscreen.com/blogs/news/is-your-sunscreen-coral-reef-safe

So, Organic, Inorganic, Physical, Mineral and Chemical, there’s good and bad, but I believe that in the case of sunscreen, the health benefits far outweigh any potential (and unproven) health risks.

THE ONE TRUE AND PROVEN GUARANTEE doctors, dermatologists, plastic surgeons and all other medical practitioners agree on is that the sun is helpful but is also very deadly with sunburns and the potential for skin cancer. I personally know that getting burnt is very uncomfortable, hinders performance for athletes and isn’t very good for your mental well being with all the pain, peeling, aging and potential for skin cancer. It’s also very dangerous for children and increases their chance of skin cancer later in life.

Bottom line, as a human being we have the opportunity to make a choice: BURN or PROTECT? You choose and then find what that works for you: a cream, a spray, UV clothing or just staying in the house. It’s up to you, but find something you are comfortable with and will USE and keep protected.

Go out, enjoy the outdoors