By Claire Ryan
The summer season brings so many opportunities to
get outside and enjoy the warmer temperatures and longer days. As the official
start to summer approaches on June 21, we wanted to share some helpful sun safe
tips. It is important to protect your skin from the harmful effects of
overexposure to the sun, year-round, and it becomes even more critical during
these summer months. Once you know how best to protect your skin, you can take
full advantage of all the amazing outdoor experiences that summer has to offer.
Fundamentals of Sunscreens
stands for Sun Protection Factor and refers to how well a sunscreen can protect
against UVB rays, which cause burning of the top layers of skin and can lead to
skin cancer. The second important form of radiation to be aware of is UVA,
which penetrates deep into the thickest layers of skin. UVA is responsible for
age spots and wrinkles, as well as some types of skin cancers. As a consumer,
it is important to choose sunscreens that are labeled “broad spectrum” to
ensure that it will protect you from both UVB and UVA.
you are getting ready to hit the beach, picnic at the park, or heat up the
grill for an all-day BBQ, remember to apply a first coat of sunscreen at least
15 minutes before you venture outside. Continue to reapply every two hours for
as long as you’re outdoors.
Reading the Labels
the EWG’s 2019 guide, 2/3 of the products tested offer inferior sun protection
or contain concerning ingredients. As a result, it is
essential to read labels and select a sunscreen that both provides optimal sun
protection and is void of the toxic chemicals rampantly used in the industry.
When searching for the best sunscreen for yourself and your family, there are a
few key ingredients to watch out for:
- Oxybenzone is one of the most commonly used, active ingredients in non-mineral
based sunscreen products. It is a
chemical that is readily absorbed by the skin and has been detected in human
breast milk, amniotic fluid, urine, and blood. Oxybenzone is classified as an
allergenic chemical and is currently being studied for its potential endocrine
- Octinoxate (Octyl methoxycinnamate) and Homosalate are two more commonly
used, active ingredients to watch out for on sunscreen labels. They have
similar hormone-disrupting effects.
- Octocrylene is another active ingredient that has been shown to have relatively
high rates of allergic skin reactions.
All three of these ingredients require additional
scientific study. But to be safe (not sorry), we recommend avoiding them
ingredients make up 50-70% of most products used for sun protection and also
need to be considered when searching for a safe and effective sunscreen. Of
most notable concern is the preservative known as methylisothiazolinone
(also called methylchloroisothiazolinone when in mixture).
Zinc oxide and Titanium oxide are the two ingredients widely used in
mineral-based sunscreen and are widely recognized as safe for use on all ages
and skin types.
Both of these ingredients reflect the sun off your skin to protect you from UVA
and UVB rays.
additional plus of choosing a sunscreen that’s better for you is that it will
also be better for the environment. The chemicals that cause disruption to our
bodies have also been shown to cause significant negative environmental
effects. If you want to take the next step towards sustainability, do your best
to avoid sunscreen made with nano-sized particles of zinc oxide
or titanium oxide. Companies (such as Badger, Raw
Elements, and Stream2Sea) use larger
particles of zinc and/or titanium oxide. The larger particles settle to the
ocean floor more rapidly and become part of the sediment instead of staying
suspended in the ocean. As a result, they wreak
less havoc on the fragile ecosystem under the sea. Choosing zinc or titanium
dioxide-based formulations is a win-win for us and the environment!
Curious about All Your Skincare Products? Try
wonder what’s in the products you’re using daily, but find the ingredient label
too small or difficult to read? If you are curious about how your skincare
products rank, check out the Think
Dirty app. You
can download the app directly to your smartphone and use the scanner on items
throughout your home. Or, check products in the store before you decide to buy.
Another option is EWG’s Skin Deep
website and app.
PIH we pride ourselves on providing our patient community with the best
information available and have vetted several sunscreens that are clean, safe,
and effective for use. We personally use these brands and recommend them to
friends and family of all ages.