Did you know there are over 2,000 sunscreens that can be purchased over-the-counter?  The FDA is supposed to be the protection agency for skin care products, but they are not watching or enforcing sunscreen regulations very carefully.  New regulations on ingredients in sunscreens were scheduled to take effect in June 2012.  We shall see if this takes place, especially since the American Cancer Society reports that more than 2 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer each year.

Sunscreens have two types of filtering ingredients: chemical and physical.  UV radiation consist of UVA, UVB and UVC rays.  UVA and UVB cause the most problems (wrinkling, photoaging and skin cancer).  UVC rays are not a factor because they are absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere and we receive only small amounts.

Chemical Filters

Chemical filters work by absorbing UV radiation and require application 30 minutes before sun exposure.  They provide partial protection, may irritate skin and eyes and may be carcinogenic.  The sun can degrade the effectiveness of this type of sunscreen.  The active ingredient in chemical filter sunscreens is Avobenzone.  Avobenzone does not mix well with zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or other ingredients that are found in makeup or other sunscreens.  It has also been found to produce free radicals one hour after application.  Another ingredient is Octocrylene that is used as a stabilizer but it can act as an endocrine disrupter and it is harmful to the environment.

Physical Filters

Physical filters work by reflecting UV radiation and works immediately upon application.  They are non-irritating and exposure to sunlight does not degrade its effectiveness.  Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the most common ingredients.

What Does SPF Mean?

SPF stands for sun protection factor.  It is a measure of UVB protection and can range from 1-45.  This summer you may have even noticed an SFP 70 on the market.  Higher SPF does not increase protection as compared to lower numbers.  An SPF 20 provides 95% protection while an SPF 100 provides 99% protection.  High SPF numbers are misleading and give the consumer a false sense of security making them feel they can stay in the sun as long as they wish.  If you are in the sun with no protection for 30 minutes before your skin reddens, if you use an SPF 10, it will take you 30 times longer to redden (5 hours).

An alternative to baking yourself in the sun or (heavens forbid) use of a tanning bed, you can always use a spray tan or airbrush.

Image Sun Care Products

Image has a full line of sunscreen products called Solar Defense which offers SPF 30-35 protection.  The Solar Defense line has physical filters using zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as their main ingredients.  They are paraben-free and offer broad spectrum protection. They come in the following formats:

SD Universal – lightweight and sheer without zinc oxide or titanium dioxide

SD Hydrating – best for dry-dehydrated skin

SD Matte – best for oily/acne prone skin but can make you look “pasty”

SD Tinted – for that “sun-kissed” look

SD Daily Defense – SPF 35 with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide

 You can also try the Image Body Bronzing Crème!  It is a natural sunless tanner with a golden shimmer in a rich moisturizing crème suited for the face and body.  Color builds slowly – use daily for an even golden glow

Sun Care Tips

  • Choose a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Sunscreens can come in many forms: lotions, gels, ointments, sticks, sprays and moist towels.  If you are acne prone, a gel or water-base formula is best.  Creams are best for dry skin.
  • Apply sunscreen even on overcast days and don’t forget your ears, feet and neck.
  • Apply generously and reapply after 2 hours and after swimming and sweating.
  • Protect your lips!  Apply a lip balm as often as possible.

References:

Barbaria, J. (2012). The Right Sunscreen. Skin Deep, 31-33.

Brannon, H. (2005, September 25). What is SPF? Retrieved June 30, 2012, from http://dermatology.about.com/cs/skincareproducts/a/spf.htm

Sun Protection Factor – What Does Sunscreen SPF Mean? (n.d.). Retrieved June 30, 2012, from iVillage: http://www.ivillage.com/7-essential-sunscreen-tips/4-b-108489

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