Summer has officially begun!! Kids are outside enjoying time in the pool, participating in summer sports, and just enjoying time outside. As a parent it is important to protect your child’s skin from the damaging effects of excessive sun exposure, and that means making a trip to your local store to pick up a new bottle of sunscreen. Yes, I said new bottle because sun screen does expire, so check your stash and throw out anything that is past the expiration date!!
Physical Sunblock vs Chemical Sunscreen
When shopping for a new sunblock or sunscreen, it is important to have a little background information on the types of sunblock and sunscreen available. There are two types, physical sunblock and chemical sunscreen.
- Sits on top of the skin and deflects or block UV rays from reaching your skin
- Starts working immediately
- Titanium dioxide – protects against all UVB but not all UVA
- Zinc oxide protects against both UVB and UVA
- Thicker and can leave a white tint
- Needs to be reapplied more often
- Absorbed in to the skin and works by absorbing the incoming UV rays from the sun
- Takes about 20 minutes to reach effective protection once applied
- There is a long list of chemicals that are used in chemical sunscreen, some of the common ones are octylcrylene, avobenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, oxybenzone, and homosalate.
- In general, chemical sunscreen protects a little bit better against UVA and UVB when comparted to physical sunblock, but results are also dependent upon the active ingredients used.
- Chemical sunscreens tend to cause more skin irritation and allergic reactions than physical sunblock
- Chemical sunscreen is generally easy to apply
- Fewer applications needed
Types of UV rays
The key to preventing sunburn, sun related aging and skin cancer is to use sunscreen or sunblock that protects the skin from ultra violet rays. These rays are produced by the sun and are invisible to the human eye. UV rays have the ability to penetrate our skin when not protected by sunblock or sunscreen, and can cause some pretty nasty changes in our skin. UVA and UVB are the two rays that are of primary concern fortunately most sunscreens are made to protect our skin from both of these types of rays. Let’s look at the difference between UVA and UVB and why are we so concerned about these rays?
- 95% of all UV rays reaching earth’s surface
- Known as “Aging Ray”, cause wrinkles and aging of the skin
- Intensity is the same throughout the day
- Also the dominant tanning ray
- Penetrates skin deeply
- Can cause skin cancer
- Known as the “Burning Ray”, causes skin reddening and sun burn
- Most abundant from 10 AM to 4 PM from April to October
- Penetrates the superficial layers of the
- Can cause skin cancer
I have based my suggestions on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) guide to safer sunscreens, the FDA’s suggestions, and several other resources. When picking out a sunscreen, I suggest going with a physical sunblock in a cream, lotion or stick form. The EWG has created a helpful guide that suggests avoiding products containing oxybenzone, vitamin A (retinyl palmitate), and added insect repellents, as well as sprays, powders, and products with an SPF above 50. The group does suggest the use of zinc oxide, avobenzone, and mexoryl SX in sunscreen.
Based on other scientific research, I would currently avoid physical sunscreen that contains nanoparticles in the form of powder or spray, since there is a chance that inhalation can potentially cause cancer, lung toxicity and lung inflammation. The FDA introduced new regulations in 2011 that changed labeling and testing on all sunscreens. Since 2011 the FDA has also been looking into the possible side effects of accidental inhalation of spray on chemical sunscreen, and have yet to come to a conclusion on safety. It is advised that until research is presented on the safety of these spray on sunscreens, they should not be used on children unless it is the only sunscreen available. Even in adults the spray should not be directly applied to the face, but should be sprayed in the hands and then applied to the face to limit accidental inhalation.
Enjoy your summer and remember to use your sunscreen!
Senara Health and Healing Center, located in Peoria, Illinois, offers a multidimensional approach to chiropractic, functional and anti-aging medicine, and wellness care. Using the latest advancements in holistic health, they advance their mantra, Live Life Well, to their guests. Established as Kramer Chiropractic in 2002, the facility moved and expanded it’s services in late 2011 to Senara Health and Healing Center & Spa.Senara Medical Weight Loss and Anti-Aging Center was launched in 2015.