Recommended Sunscreen Products for Best Care of Your Skin

Recommended Sunscreen Products for Best Care of Your Skin

Are sunscreens safe? Which ones do you recommend that will protect my skin from the sun and not cause other issues?


Of course a dermatologist would never tell you to sunbathe, but one Chicago-area skin doctor warns of the dangers of using suntan lotion.

Sarah Stein, a pediatric dermatologist at University of Chicago Medical Center, says most of the time people get it wrong when lathering on the sunscreen.

Getting a little sunshine is important for helping our bodies generate Vitamin D, an important supplement for strong bones, and for regulating our levels of serotonin and tryptamine, neurotransmitters that keep our moods and sleep/wake cycles in order.

Like anything, though, too much sun can cause health issues, from sunburns to skin cancer. For those of us who spend more time in the sun than doctors recommend — they say to stay indoors between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on sunny days to be safe — sunscreens can be lifesavers.

Getting too much sun is bad because of ultraviolet radiation, 90 percent of which comes in the form of Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays that are not absorbed by the ozone layer and penetrate deep into our skin. Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays make up the rest. These rays are partially absorbed by the ozone layer (which makes preserving the ozone layer crucial for our health), and because they don’t penetrate our skin as deeply, can cause those lobster-red sunburns.

A recent study by the Environmental Working Group found that one in every eight name-brand sunscreens did not protect against the sun's ultraviolet A rays. These UVA rays have traditionally been linked to tanning, but doctors now know they can both cause long-term damage and skin cancer. The SPF — or sun protection factor — rating currently placed on all sunscreens only reflects the lotion's effectiveness in blocking the sun's ultraviolet B rays, traditionally linked to sunburn.

As a result of such research, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is in the process of approving a new regulation that would set standards for testing and labeling sunscreens for UVA protection as well as for UVB. These regulations are sure to highlight many discussions during May, which has been designated Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month.

A recent study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that sunburn rates increased from 31.8 percent to 33.7 percent from 1999 to 2004, a sign that many people aren't using proper sun protection.

“So you can’t necessarily rely on SPF to tell you how well a lotion protects,” Stein said. “We’re kind of stuck looking at product labels. There is no uniformity in how labeling is done for UV-A protection.”

Stein says you should look for labels that read: “broad spectrum coverage.” And that usually 30 SPF will do the trick to protect against both kinds of sun rays.

Both types of UV rays are thought to cause skin cancer. "People who don't take care of their skin in the sun are going to age faster," says Kate Shelton, who runs Tonic Spa-tique in Fernwood Square. "Consistent preventive skin care is a lot more effective, and easier on the pocketbook, than expensive treatments later to try to repair the damage." Dermatologist Dr. Mark Lupin agrees -- he is the director and founder of Cosmedica Skin Laser Surgery Clinic on Fort Street.

He recommends using an SPF 30 sunscreen, and wearing a hat and sun-protective clothing.

"Look for a 'broad spectrum' or 'full spectrum' sunscreen, which means a sunscreen that not only screens the burning rays (UVB) but also the tanning rays (UVA)," Lupin says. "Seeking shade helps, but you can still burn. I had a couple who burnt under a palapa while in Mexico, as they thought the shade would protect from a sunburn. There is significant reflection of ultraviolet rays off of sand, water and concrete."

When it comes to looking good, and bronzed, in the summer months, Lupin says spray-tanning and bronzing sunscreens are safer than tanning beds.

"As tanning beds have been associated with an increased risk of skin cancer, they are definitely not recommended," he says.

Yet, while most sunscreens block out at least some UVB radiation, many don’t screen UVA rays at all, making their use risky. According to the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG), by far most of the commercially available sunscreens do not provide adequate protection against the sun’s harmful UV radiation and may also contain chemicals with questionable safety records.

In all, 84 percent of the 831 sunscreens EWG tested did not pass health and environmental muster. Many contained potentially harmful chemicals like Benzophenone, homosalate and octyl methoxycinnamate (also called octinoxate), which are known to mimic naturally occurring bodily hormones and can thus throw the body’s systems out of whack.

Some also contained Padimate-0 and parsol 1789 (also known as avobenzone), which are suspected of causing DNA damage when exposed to sunlight. Furthermore, EWG found that more than half the sunscreens on the market make questionable product claims about longevity, water resistance and UV protection.

As a result, EWG has called on the Food and Drug Administration to establish standards for labeling so consumers have a better idea of what they may be buying. In the meantime, consumers looking to find out how their preferred brand stacks up can check out EWG’s online Skin Deep database, which compares thousands of health and beauty products against environmental and human health standards.

The good news is that many companies are now introducing safer sunscreens crafted from plant- and mineral-based ingredients and without chemical additives. Some of the best, according to Skin Deep, are Alba Botanica Sun’s Fragrance-Free Mineral Sunscreen, Avalon Baby’s Sunscreen SPF 18, Badger’s SPF 30 Sunscreen, Burt’s Bees’ Chemical-Free Sunscreen SPF 15, California Baby’s SPF 30, Juice Beauty’s Green Apple SPF 15 Moisturizer, and Kabana’s Green Screen SPF 15.

Last summer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed a four-star rating system for sunscreens and suntan lotions.

Although some sunscreen makers have decided to voluntarily start using the rating system this summer, it will be at least another year before the sunscreens will be required to carry the rating system, according to a report from FOX 12 Oregon.

In addition to the rating system, the FDA proposal would require sunscreen makers to perform two tests on its products.

"To get a four rating, you'd have to demonstrate that your product warrants it on human skin tests and in lab tests with a sun simulator," FDA spokeswoman Rita Chappelle told FOX 12. "The lower rating from two tests would be the star rating. We want to make sure the consumer is getting the minimum appropriate rating. To allow a marketer to say, 'Our product is four stars,' you'd have to have demonstrated that."

Comments

Post new comment

Similar

Field of Cosmetic Surgery is Increasing , Not Only to Look Better but Also Feel Confident

Field of Cosmetic Surgery is Increasing , Not Only to Look Better but Also Feel Cosmetic surgery aims to change your appearance by altering parts of your body that function normally but make you unhappy. This differs from reconstructive surgery, which can restore appearance and

Awareness of Cosmetics Products; Facts on Its Use

Awareness of Cosmetics Products; Facts on Its Use You may be wondering whether or not people actually believe cosmetic ads. The answer appears to be an emphatic "Yes!" In 1999, U. S. consumers spent $3.4 billion on health and beauty products, and in

Danger Alert for Air Fresheners, Toilet Bowl Cleaners, Mothballs and Other Deodorizing Products

Danger Alert for Air Fresheners, Toilet Bowl Cleaners, Mothballs and Other Deodo Air fresheners are consumer products that mitigate unpleasant odors in indoor spaces. They work in one of five ways: Absorption: Adsorbents like activated charcoal or silica gel may be used to

Nail Care

Nail Care Having good-looking nails is great because every time you stretch a hand, people notice your manicure (or the lack of it) and this creates a positive or a negative impression about you but there is

Bottle-Feeding , Pacifier & Thumb Sucking , Nasal Allergy may Cause Tooth Misalignments

Bottle-Feeding , Pacifier & Thumb Sucking , Nasal Allergy may Cause Tooth Misali In a study of nearly 1,200 children between the ages of 4 and 5, Mexican researchers found that those who were bottle-fed, used pacifiers or sucked their thumb before the age of 1 were more likely to

Surgical Treatment for Baldness /Hair Loss / Alopecia

Surgical Treatment for Baldness /Hair Loss / Alopecia Baldness typically refers to excessive hair loss from your scalp and can be the result of heredity, certain medications or an underlying medical condition. Anyone — men, women and children — can

Cause and Prevention of Cold Sores , Cheilitis , Dry & Chapped Lips , Lip Enhancement

Cause and Prevention of Cold Sores , Cheilitis , Dry & Chapped Lips , Lip Enhanc Our lips say a lot about us even before we say a word. Lips are a visible organ at the mouth of humans and many animals. Both lips are soft, protruding, movable, and serve primarily for food intake,