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THE TRUTH ABOUT SUNSCREEN



When it comes to protecting yourself from harmful UV rays, wearing a sunscreen with a high SPF number or attempting to get more Vitamin D solely through milk isn't going to cut it. Here is a great article from Women's Health Magazine that breaks it all down for you, and this information definitely doesn't only apply to women!


THE SUMMER OF SPF
10 SNEAKY SUNSCREEN SECRETS
We uncovered some surprising sun and skincare truths. So, before you lotion up 
this summer, make sure you really are sun-safe.


BY KIMBERLY GOAD







Slathering on sunscreen is the best way to ward off evil rays,
but don't put blind faith in its efficacy. The Environmental
Working Group, a nonprofit research organization based in
Washington, D.C., reviewed nearly 1,400 sunscreens in 2010
and found that only 8 percent made the grade in terms of
preventing skin cancer and signs of aging. (Scary, right?) So
choosing the right one is critical. These fascinating facts and
tips will help keep your skin healthy this summer and beyond.

Some Dangers Lurk Within
A form of vitamin A is added to some sunscreens to minimize
the aging effects of the sun. What's not to love about that?
Potentially plenty: Researchers with the National Toxicology
Program say retinyl palmitate—a vitamin-A compound used
in at least 40 percent of American sunscreens—may speed
up the development of skin cancer–related tumors and
lesions when used on skin hit with sunlight. Lab animals
coated with a vitamin A–laced skin cream and exposed to
the equivalent of just nine minutes of midday sunlight
every day for a year developed tumors and lesions up to
21 percent sooner than animals coated in vitamin A–free
block.
While there's disagreement in the medical community
about whether vitamin A has the same effect on humans,
 it's best to proceed with caution. "If there's a question
about the safety of something, avoid it. Plenty of
sunscreens don't have retinyl palmitate," says
Robert J. Friedman, M.D., a dermatologic oncologist
in New York City and a clinical professor at the
New York University School of Medicine. Try Jason
Family Natural Sunblock SPF 45 ($12, at health-food
stores).
Vitamin A isn't the only controversial ingredient slipped
into some SPFs. Oxybenzone and octinoxate, common
block chemicals, are linked to allergic contact dermatitis
and photocontact dermatitis (irritation caused when
certain chemicals are on skin that's exposed to sunlight),
as well as hormone disruption, in lab animals.
Sunscreen Can Harm the Environment
Twenty thousand tons of sunscreen wash off swimmers,
divers, and surfers into the oceans every year, eventually
affecting marine life, according to a 2008 study published
in Environmental Health Perspectives. And coral reefs are
getting especially creamed. Researchers say sunscreens
with octinoxate, oxybenzone, parabens, or camphor
derivatives are killing hard corals (which could negatively
impact biodiversity and reef ecosystems). None of this is
a problem if you're hiking, biking, or sunbathing on dry
land. But if you plan to swim in the sea, slather on a
biodegradable sunscreen that doesn't contain
ingredients that are mean to marine life. Try Alba
Botanica Very Emollient Fragrance Free Mineral
Sunblock SPF 30.
SPF Doesn't Always Block UVA Rays
The magic number shown on the bottle refers only to a
sunscreen's ability to block the sunburn-inducing UVB
rays, not to be confused with UVA rays, the ones that
cause wrinkles and skin cancer (though excessive
exposure to both rays can lead to skin cancer). The
FDA is considering a set of guidelines that would use
a four-star system to rate a sunscreen's effectiveness
against UVA rays. In the meantime, check the
ingredients on the bottle for one of these UVA
blockers:
Titanium dioxide or zinc oxide: These ingredients
are famous for their UVA blockage, and new formulas
won't leave you with a Casper-like film on your face.
Try Episencial's Sunny Sunscreen SPF 35 Water-
Resistant Protection for Face and Body.
Avobenzone (a.k.a. Parsol 1789): This common UVA
fighter is among the most effective chemical-based
blockers. Choose one like MDSolarSciences No Touch
Body Spray SPF 40.
Ecamsule (a.k.a. Mexoryl SX): This chemical ingredient
is 3.8 times more protective than avobenzone and has
long been a staple in European and Canadian sunscreens.
It's now available in a few American blocks, including
La Roche-Posay's Anthelios line and L'Oreal's Ombrelle
line. But it's not cheap—a 3.4-ounce bottle of
La Roche-Posay costs $30, laroche-posay.us.
Sunscreen Expires
If you pull a half-empty, sand-caked tube of last
summer's sunscreen out of your beach bag, check the
expiration date before using it. Most sunscreens are
designed with specially formulated stabilizers that
protect its potency for up to three years, but that's
assuming you didn't let it bake for days in your
backyard. "Leaving sunblock in intense heat for a
prolonged amount of time may make it less effective,"
says Mitchell Chasin, M.D., medical director of
Reflections Center for Skin and Body in New Jersey
and fellow of the American Society for Laser Medicine
and Surgery. So store sunblock in a cool place, and
while you're at the beach, keep it in the shade.
Meds Can Make You More Vulnerable
Medications like tetracycline, diuretics, and painkillers
such as Celebrex, Aleve, and ibuprofen up your chances
of getting a burn, says Barbara Gilchrest, M.D.,
professor and chair emeritus of the department of
dermatology at Boston University School of Medicine
and chief emeritus of dermatology at Boston Medical
Center. "They make your skin more sensitive to sunlight,
specifically to UVA wavelengths, which means you need
to be extra vigilant about sunscreen when you're taking
them." Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks
both UVA and UVB rays, like Neutrogena Pure &
Free Liquid SPF 50 ($10, neutrogena.com), to ward off
sunburn and photo damage, which results from chronic
exposure to UV rays.
Certain Foods Can Turbocharge Your Protection
One more good reason to load up on lycopene-rich
fruits and veggies such as watermelon, guava, pink
grapefruit, and tomatoes: A 2010 study published in
the British Journal of Dermatology suggests the potent
antioxidant lycopene acts as a sunscreen from within.
Women whose diets included 16 milligrams of lycopene
every day (the amount in about two cups of diced
watermelon) for 12 weeks showed a reduction in the
damaging effects of UVA and UVB rays, including
sunburns and cellular damage. Tomatoes are the
richest source of the antioxidant, especially when
cooked (heating tomatoes releases more of the
lycopene). Of course, this doesn't mean you can
skip the sunscreen. These fruits and veggies help
boost your SPF but don't replace it.
Labels Can Lie
Horrifying but true: The FDA doesn't regulate
sunscreens, meaning manufacturers aren't legally
required to prove the claims on their labels. They
can use words like waterproof, all-day protection,
and broad spectrum without any evidence to back
up their assertions. No wonder sun lovers are lulled
into a false sense of protection!
"Overblown claims on the bottle lead you to believe
you're covered," says Sonya Lunder, M.P.H., a senior
analyst at the Environmental Working Group. "You
may put on a 'waterproof' sunscreen promising
'all-day protection' and assume, incorrectly, that you
don't need to reapply. In reality, you need to reapply
every two hours and each time you get out of the water."
The SPF Number Doesn't Mean Much
Conventional wisdom suggests that SPF 30 will give you
twice the protection of SPF 15, and SPF 100 will offer
twice the coverage of SPF 50. If only.
"The sky-high numbers are a marketing ploy," says
Gilchrest. "People think they're doing themselves a
favor by using high SPF, but the difference is
incremental. SPF 15 filters out 93 percent of UVB rays;
SPF 30 protects against 97 percent; SPF 50, 98 percent;
and SPF 100, 99 percent—and that's only if you apply
enough of it."
Don't fall for the numbers game. When the FDA
releases its new guidelines, it's expected to include
a ban on any SPF over 50 because the numbers can
be misleading. Until then, use this simple rule from
Gilchrest: If you burn easily, go for SPF 50 and apply
it generously; otherwise, there's no need to go above
SPF 30.
Makeup with SPF Doesn't Cut It
Makeup and daily moisturizers with SPF will protect
your skin if you load them on and reapply every 90
minutes, says Darrell S. Rigel, M.D., a clinical professor
of dermatology at New York University. And who's
really going to do that? What's more, according to a
recent study from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer
Center in New York City, most SPF-spiked beauty
products skimp on the all-important UVA-blocking
ingredients. Researchers analyzed 29 daily facial
creams with an SPF of 15 to 50, and only six of
them contained enough UVA-blocking ingredients
to provide adequate UVA protection. So think of
your moisturizer and makeup as just an extra layer
of protection, and always apply a lightweight,
broad-spectrum sunscreen such as Clinique's City
Block Sheer Oil-Free Daily Face Protector SPF 25.
Soaking Up Vitamin D Is No Excuse for Skipping Block
Vitamin D strengthens your bones and immune system,
reduces your risk for breast, colon, kidney, and ovarian
cancers, and regulates at least a thousand different genes
controlling virtually every tissue in your body. The
American Medical Association has recommended
10 minutes of direct sun (sans sunscreen) several times a
week to get that dose of D, but the American Academy of
Dermatology says no amount of unprotected sun exposure
is OK. "Vitamin D is very important, especially for women,"
says Friedman.
"But that's not a reason to get any amount of unprotected
exposure to the sun." Instead, obtain your daily D through
your diet (milk, fortified orange juice, and canned salmon
are all good sources) or a supplement (under your physician's
supervision). The newest recommendations suggest 1,000 to
2,000 IU a day. Try Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3
($16, nordicnaturals.com).


Besides the great product recommendations in this article, I'd 
highly recommend using  Elta MD UV Sport SPF 50, a sunscreen 
that I've been using for years and is highly recommended by my dermatologist. Its perfect for very sensitive skin and contains UVA/UVB protection with transparent zinc oxide. The formula 
doesn't contain a bunch of complicated chemicals and is also 
water-resistant and perfect for outdoor activities.