10 Essential Sunscreen Facts To Keep Your Skin Protected | element8 Organic Skincare
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10 Essential Sunscreen Facts To Keep Your Skin Protected

10 Essential Sunscreen Facts To Keep Your Skin Protected

Summer is here.  Are you heeding the sunscreen advice?! Do you know why (and how) you should be using SPF? And what are the important things to consider as we head out into the blistering summer heat that Ireland is bound to offer up to us in the next few months? I have picked 10 facts and tips that I think are essential for anyone looking to protect their skin.

(1) Look for Broad Spectrum – This is the most important! 
A sunscreen’s SPF number refers only to the amount of UVB rays that are blocked by the product. Broad Spectrum means the product includes both UVA and UVB protection.

It’s important to protect your skin from both types because both can damage the DNA in your skin cells and lead to skin cancer:

  • UVB rays cause sunburn and play a key role in developing skin cancer.
  • UVA rays cause skin damage that leads to tanning as well as skin aging and wrinkles. The shortest wavelengths of UVA rays also contribute to sunburn.

So as we said SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is a measure of what % of UVB rays are blocked from penetrating your skin but the SPF (Sun Protection Factor) scale is not linear:

  • SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays
  • SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays
  • SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays

An SPF 30 sunscreen gives you 4% more protection than SPF 15 sunscreen. Another way of looking at that is SPF 30 lets 4 photons of light through, SPF 15 lets 8 through then SPF 30 will block half of the radiation that SPF 15 will let through.

In summary: don’t buy products with SPF values lower than 15, nor those without either Zinc Oxide or Avobenzone for UVA protection. It’s important to look for the words “broad spectrum” on a product’s label, which means it has ingredients that can protect you from UVA as well as UVB rays.

It is also important to remember there is no sunscreen that can block out all UV radiation.

 

(2) Make sure if your skincare product says to ‘use only at night time’ or ‘wear with an SPF’ that you heed those warnings
The main ingredients to watch out for are Retinyl Palmitate (Vit A), Alpha Hydroxy Acids such as Glycolic Acid (exfoliation), Hydroquinone (lightening agent) and Citrus Essential Oils such as Bergamot as these all increase your sensitivity to sunlight. This means you run the risk of causing skin damage if you expose your skin to sunlight while using these ingredients and this may lead to skin cancer.
(3) Avoid super-high SPFs over 50
In real life, products with very high SPFs can often tempt you to stay in the sun longer and because SPF relates to UVB rays only they could leave your skin exposed to damaging UVA rays.  Studies have shown that people who use high SPF products tend to stay out in the sun much longer as they feel a false sense of security that they are well protected because of their high SPF product. They may skip reapplying and they may think they don’t need to seek shade, wear a hat or cover up with clothing. They end up getting a lot more UV damage, which, of course, defeats the purpose.
(4) Oxybenzone
This UVA and UVB filter is reported by some groups to penetrate the skin, get into the bloodstream and act like oestrogen thereby interfering with the normal hormone production in the body.  However having looked at the available studies on this ingredient I cannot find evidence that conclusively supports this claim. Misinformation about sunscreen is common. Don’t let myths deter you from using sunscreen to protect your skin.

(5) Sunscreen can cause skincancer…?Nope..there is no evidence of this. There is evidence however that sunscreen protects against all three of the most common skin cancers: squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and melanoma.

(6) Avoid combined sunscreen/bug repellents
Sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours but insect repellents should not. Some studies suggest that combining sunscreens and repellents leads to increased skin absorption of the repellent ingredients. Buy them separately and apply them when required.
(7) Avoid spray sunscreens
These really can be handy and it does come down to personal choice and circumstances but they may pose inhalation risks and it is harder to ensure you are getting every part of the exposed skin.
(8) Avoid tanning oils.
If they contain sunscreen ingredients, the levels are always very low and offer little, if any, sun protection.
(9) Use the correct amount!
Most people under-apply sunscreens, using ¼ to ½ the amount required. Using half the required amount of sunscreen only provides the square root of the SPF. So, a half application of an SPF 30 sunscreen only provides an effective SPF of 5.5. So apply more than you think is necessary. Probably double.
(10) What about Vitamin D?
Vitamin D can only be synthesised from UVB rays acting on our skin which is why we are so deficient in it especially during winter months (UVB cannot penetrate clouds). There is an argument that we should expose our skin to whatever rays we can (especially during winter) for the sake of our Vitamin D requirements but dermatologists would argue that eating food fortified with Vitamin D and taking a Vitamin D supplement to ensure you get your daily allowance should be considered instead.
Interesting studies recently on the effects of Vitamin D and Covid 19 suggest that high levels of Vit D confers a benefit in the recovery of those suffering from Covid 19. These studies also showed that those in less sunnier climates had higher levels of Vit D in their blood than those in sunny climates – this would suggest that there is more supplementation happening in these countries and those in hotter warmer countries do not feel the need to supplement because of their high levels of sun exposure. However these people are still not meeting their Vitamin D needs from sun manufacture alone. This would suggest that supplemntation of Vitamin D should be occurring regardless all around the world especially as those with darker skin tones need to spend longer in the sun to produce the same amount of Vitamin D. Considering the risks associated with UVA and UVB rays, concern about vitamin D deficiency should not be a reason to avoid sunscreen. Take a supplement.
The Element 8 Moisturising Cream with SPF is a Broad Spectrum product and we picked two synergistic chemical sunscreen filters, Octocrylene and Avobenzone, to ensure that the product protects your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. These filters were chosen as they have a high efficacy and safety rating working synergistically to maximise protection against skin damaging UVA and UVB rays. It absorbs in really well, so no white residue is left behind, and is perfect with or without make-up on top. It’s made with high end, organic plant based extracts to help nourish your skin and keep it healthy all year round. We think of it as the best way to start your day.
Finally (that was a long one) by simply being mindful of the amount of sun exposure you’re getting and applying sunscreen regularly, in addition to seeking shade and covering up with hats, sun protective clothing and UV protecting sunglasses, you should be able to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging rays and enjoy the summer sun worry free.
Thanks for reading,
Mairéad,
Element 8.
References:

Safety of Oxybenzone: Putting Numbers Into Perspective, Steven Q. Wang, MDMark E. Burnett, BSHenry W. Lim, MD Arch Dermatol. 2011;147(7):865-866. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2011.173

 

Schlumpf M, Cotton B, Conscience M, Haller V, Steinmann B, Lichtensteiger W. In vitro and in vivo estrogenicity of UV screens.  Environ Health Perspect. 2001;109(3):239-24411333184

 

Photocarcinogenesis: Study of Retinoic Acid and Retinyl Palmitate. US National Toxicology Program August 2012 NTP TR 568 NIH Publication No. 12-5910
Sunscreens in melanoma and skin cancer prevention, CMAJ. 2005 Aug 2; 173(3): 244–245, Richard P. Gallagher
Photomutagenicity of retinyl palmitate by ultraviolet a irradiation in mouse lymphoma cells,. Toxicology Science Nov;88(1):142-9. Epub 2005 Aug 17.
Vitamin D and Inflammation: Potential Implications for Severity of Covid-19 Issue: Ir Med J; Vol 113; No. 5; P81, E. Laird1, J. Rhodes2, R.A. Kenny