Sunscreens - Everything You Need to Know

Sunscreens, everything you need to know

We all understand the dangers of the sun. It's no secret that prolonged exposure to UV rays leads to sunburn and increases the risk of skin cancer. It is also known that protecting baby's skin with sunscreen is especially important. Mostly when we buy sunscreen we choose it according to providing protection from a wide range of UVA and UVB rays and whether it has an SPF of 30 or more. But is that just what we need to look at? Did you know that many sunscreens contain chemical ingredients that can have detrimental health effects for you and your child?

The sun emits ultraviolet (UV) rays. And as much as you love to feel the sun’s heat, these UV rays can cause all sorts of skin damage. There are two types of UV rays that can harm your (and your baby's!) Skin: UVA and UVB.

Ultraviolet A (UVA) has a longer wavelength and is associated with skin aging.

Ultraviolet B (UVB) has a shorter wavelength and is associated with skin burns.

UVA

UVA rays have longer wavelengths, but a lower energy level than other UV rays. UVA rays, although slightly less intense than UVB, penetrate deeper into your skin. Exposure causes genetic damage to the cells in the deepest part of your top layer of skin, where most skin cancers occur. The skin tends to prevent further damage by darkening, resulting in tanned skin. Over time, UVA also leads to premature aging and skin cancer. 

UVA rays cause darkening, and shorter UVA wavelengths also cause sunburn.

UVB

UVB rays (ultraviolet B) are shorter sun waves, a penetrates and damages the outermost layers of your skin. Excessive exposure causes tanning, burns and, in severe cases, blistering.

UVB is linked to the sun protection factor (SPF) on sun protection product declarations. The SPF number tells you how long the sun's radiation (including part of the UVA) should redden your skin when you use this product compared to weather without sunscreen.

The intensity of UVB rays varies. While the sun's rays are strongest and pose the greatest risk from late morning to mid-afternoon from spring to autumn in temperate climates and even longer intervals in tropical climates, UVB rays can damage your skin all year round, especially at high altitudes or reflective surface rays. like snow or ice. They do not penetrate windows and are more likely to be filtered by clouds. UVB rays cause most skin cancers, but they can also contribute to premature skin aging.

According to the University of Iowa Health Care (UIHC), there are approximately 500 times more UVA rays in sunlight than UVB rays! So, not only do you need to protect your baby from the effects of UVB rays, but you also need to protect them from the harmful effects of abundant UVA rays.

What is SPF?

SPF is an abbreviation for sun protection factor. This is the number you will see on a bottle of sunscreen, for example SPF 30. SPF is a measure of your sunscreen's ability to protect against UVB rays and their harmful effects.

Prema Skin Cancer Foundation, The SPF number tells you how long the sun’s UVB rays would take to redden your skin if you applied sunscreen exactly as instructed compared to time without sunscreen.

In other words, if you have used SPF 30 correctly, you should burn 30 times longer than not using sunscreen.

What is the difference between mineral and chemical sunscreens?

What is the difference between mineral and chemical sunscreen?

The main difference between chemical and mineral sunscreens can be found in their ingredient lists.

Chemical sunscreen is a category of SPF that uses active ingredients to absorb the sun’s rays, convert them into heat, and then release heat through the skin. Chemical sunscreens contain one or more chemicals, such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate. The active ingredients in most chemical sunscreens can be quite irritating if you have sensitive skin or skin prone to acne. Chemical sunscreens have also been shown to have some adverse effects on the environment, for example for coral reefs. They are also potentially toxic to aquatic ecosystems. Subsequent studies have further demonstrated the detrimental effects of chemical sunscreens on coral reefs and marine organisms.

Mineral sunscreen contains titanium dioxide and / or zinc oxide. They form a physical barrier that reflects light rays away from the skin. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using mineral sunscreen (instead of chemical sunscreen) if you have sensitive skin or skin prone to acne.

Why are some mineral sunscreens advertised as "non nano"? 

Some chemical sunscreen manufacturers have suggested that mineral sunscreen can also be absorbed into your child's skin.

These companies claim that because the ingredients in mineral sunscreens break down into tiny pieces (called nanoparticles), they can easily penetrate your baby’s skin cells.

However, this claim contradicts the findings of the international scientific community. A 2009 report released by the Australian Ministry of Health reviewed all major studies of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. The conclusion is clear:

“Do danas, trenutna težina dokaza ukazuje na to da nanočestice TiO2 [titanov dioksid] i ZnO [cinkov oksid] ne dospijevaju do održivih stanica kože, već ostaju na površini kože i u vanjskom sloju (stratum corneum) koža.”

Therefore, some companies have decided not to take risks with nanoparticles and skin absorption and have made a mineral sunscreen without nanoparticles.

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    How do sunscreens affect the skin?

    Sunscreens protect the skin from UV rays using the above mentioned chemical or mineral filters. Chemical and mineral sunscreens protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun's UV rays in very different ways.

    Chemical filters absorb UV rays, break them down and release them in the form of heat, while mineral or physical blockers act as a physical barrier on the skin, reflecting UV light

    Mineral sunscreen, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are small particles that sit on the surface of the skin and physically prevent UV rays from penetrating the skinSays Jennifer L. MacGregor, Ph.D. med., certified dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York. You can also apply mineral sunscreen to other skin care products.

    Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, allow UV light into the skin. Once the light is absorbed into the skin, the chemicals in the sunscreen (AAD lists oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate) create a chemical reaction in which UV light is converted to heat and heat is dissipated from the skin, says Lauren Ploch, MD, a certified dermatologist in Augusta, Georgia.

    Is Mineral Sunscreen Better Than Chemical Sunscreen?

    Given the potential impact on the environment and the pronouncing of chemical sunscreens due to the ingredients, mineral sunscreens are generally more trusted. Mineral sunscreens usually take longer to rub into the skin and need to be applied more often, but they can be safer for long-term use.

    However, both esthetician C. Marino and dermatologist H. King note that you should consider your skin type when choosing a sunscreen. "Two things can cause pimples caused by sunscreen: clogging of pores with comedogenic materials or a sensitivity reaction to chemical ingredients that block UV rays," notes Dr. King. For this reason, she recommends mineral sunscreens instead of chemical ones and suggests looking for oil-free or non-comedogenic ones on the label.

    Is chemical sunscreen safe for babies and children?

    Research shows that chemical ingredients in creams for sunbathing can increase the risk of endometriosis in women, reduce sperm concentration in men and reduce testosterone levels in adolescents.

    If research has shown that these chemical compounds can adversely affect your health, why have they been approved by the FDA? A brief explanation is that the FDA approved these chemicals when they began regulating sun protection in the late 1970s.

    At the time, most of these chemicals had been used in sunscreens for years. As such, they are approved without going through a strict approval process. 

    Is chemical sunscreen safe for babies and children?

    Although recent research suggests that some of these chemicals are potentially harmful, research is not yet final. Scientists are still trying to understand the effects of chemical sunscreen ingredients.

    The FDA should have unquestionable evidence to revoke its approval and ban the use of any particular chemical in sunscreens. That is why they are still on the market today.

    Given this information, are chemical sunscreens safe for babies? Unfortunately, it is simply not known whether chemical sunscreens are safe for babies and children.

    In fact, it is not even known if they are safe for adults! 

    Is mineral sunscreen safer for babies and children?

    Sunscreens that contain only mineral-based active ingredients are safe to use in babies. 

    The only thing to pay attention to are the sunscreens they use both mineral and chemical ingredients. These sunscreens can be advertised as mineral sunscreens, but they can also have chemical ingredients.

    As always, check the ingredients before applying any product to your baby’s skin.

    Where to buy mineral sunscreen?

    If you are looking for a sunscreen that is safe for you and your child, give it a try Attitude.

    Natural ingredients will not irritate your baby’s delicate skin. 

    What steps can you take to protect yourself?

    To keep your skin healthy, it’s important to protect yourself from the sun’s rays, especially if you know you’ll be outdoors for extended periods of time.

    Apply sunscreen

    Choose a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection. This means that sunscreen has the ability to block both UVA and UVB rays.

    A higher protection factor (SPF) will provide greater protection, but remember that no sunscreen is 100% effective in blocking UV rays.

    Is mineral sunscreen safer for babies and children?

    Sunscreen should be reapplied at least every 2 hours or more often if you are sweating, exercising or swimming. It is important to know that there are no waterproof sunscreens, only those that are waterproof.

    When buying sunscreen, you may want to opt for a mineral-based product.

    Cover yourself

    Clothing can provide some protection from exposure to UV radiation. Tightly woven dry fabrics are best. Many outside companies produce clothing that provides increased protection from UV rays.

    Stay in the shade

    Limit exposure to direct sunlight by staying in the shade. This is most important between 10 am and 4 pm, when UV rays are stronger.

    Wear a hat

    A wide-brimmed hat can provide extra protection for your ears and neck.

    Wear sunglasses

    Choose sunglasses that offer UV protection to prevent damage to the eyes and surrounding skin.

    How to protect babies and children from UV radiation?

    Protect your baby while in the sun. Most of us do not carry enough sunscreen, including babies. If your baby is older than six months, you need to apply sunscreen to her skin every day!

    Your child is more exposed to the sun than you think, which is why it is important to apply sunscreen daily, for example, while taking him for a walk in a stroller, sitting outside while your child is rocking or driving in a car seat by the window.

    Choose a mineral sunscreen

    Choose a mineral sunscreen that is:

    • Broad spectrum
    • Odorless
    • Waterproof up to 80 minutes
    • It is considered safe for reefs

    Find shade

    In addition to using a good broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen, avoid leaving your baby in direct sunlight for a long time. Keep your baby under an umbrella or tree to protect it from direct sunlight.

    Also, when you are walking, use the umbrella that came with the stroller to protect their delicate skin.

    Put a hat on your baby

    Not only will your baby look extremely cute when wearing a hat, but it will also protect your face, eyes, ears and back of your neck from the sun. Be sure to choose a hat that covers these areas and that fits your baby properly.

    Sources:

    www.skincancer.org/risk-factors/uv-radiation/ 

    onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jocd.12449 

    www.everydayhealth.com/skin-beauty/chemical-vs-mineral-sunscreen-whats-difference/ 

    www.mustelausa.com/blogs/mustela-mag/mineral-vs-chemical-sunscreen-know-the-difference 

    earth.org/reef-safe-sunscreen/ 

    www.byrdie.com/natural-sunscreen-chemical-sunscreen#citation-3 

    www.healthline.com/health/skin/uva-vs-uvb#protection

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