“I found a really effective sunblock, It’s called my house.”
Perhaps you can call me a sunscreen bully because I constantly tell my clients to wear it daily before going out, even on a cloudy day. I slather a generous amount on my face and body every morning. It’s always best to protect ourselves from the dangerous UV rays of the sun and from the risk of skin cancer. Now I hear from the news that sunscreen actually causes cancer. What’s going on! And should I freak out already?
Benzene, a colorless liquid that is known to be carcinogenic has been found in some sunscreens and after-sun products by Valisure, an online pharmacy and lab, most of them spray-ons. It’s important to note that benzene is not an ingredient in sunscreen, and Valisure’s petition for a recall of these products suggests that the findings are a result of contamination somewhere in the manufacturing process.
Here’s what changes you can make to stay safe.
With summer in full swing, sunscreen is a necessity for everyone. Beachgoers often reach for aerosols because they are easier and less messy to apply than creams so when their favorite brands are suddenly unavailable there can be a confusing scramble to find a replacement.
Furthermore, the discussion about whether anything is really safe reoccurs, and this leaves people open and vulnerable to sun damage and potential skin cancers. Being in the skincare industry as a fulltime aesthetician, I definitely think it’s not an option to skip on sun protection most especially in the summer.
- Pick a sunscreen that wasn’t contaminated. The majority of products tested — over 200 of them — had no detectable amounts of benzene, and uncontaminated sunscreen should continue to be used.
- Check and choose formulas for safety. As far as formulation goes, there are two kinds — mineral based with zinc and titanium, and chemical blends that contain actives like octinoxate and homosalate. Very often both formulas contain other anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant ingredients like aloe, green tea, lindera root, arnica and pomegranate, a great source of vitamin C. If you have very sensitive skin or suffer from rosacea, use a mineral based formula. Avoid oxybenzone, an ingredient that may behave like estrogen. Oxybenzone penetrates the skin easily and can disrupt the hormonal system. Look for products that along with zinc oxide, contain 3 percent avobenzone or Mexoryl SX. They protect skin from harmful UVA radiation.
- Avoid sprays and aerosols. They cloud the air with tiny particles that may not be safe to breathe particularly when used on children. And remember, a few blistering sunburns in childhood can double a person’s lifetime chances of developing serious forms of skin cancer. Keep infants under 6 months out of direct sun and well covered and shaded at all times. Their skin is not yet protected by melanin. It is important to note that any SPF with a higher protection factor of 30 only provides 1–2% extra protection and a much higher possibility for irritation.
- Apply sunscreen liberally at least 30 minutes before leaving the house and layer twice waiting 15 minutes before second application if possible. This ensures a more thorough covering. (Consider any protection contained in make-up a bonus and not a main source of protection.)
- Get your skin checked annually by your dermatologist. Men ignore sun safety at their peril. In 2021, the American Cancer Society estimates about twice as many American men are expected to die from melanoma as women. Surveys show that 48 percent of men report routine sun avoidance, compared to 68 percent of women.
- Slop on sunscreen and reapply it often, especially if swimming and sweating a lot. If it doesn’t smell right or feel right find another by using these guidelines.
- Wear a hat and sun protective clothing. And if possible, seek shade between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sunscreen is still a very important, effective, and a safe, scientifically-based way to prevent the harmful effects of the sun. Well, I guess I will be a sunscreen bully for life.
For more skincare tips, call us at Skinsense Wellness at (323) 653–4701, or check out our other blogs on Medium. And for skincare services, please visit us at 8448 W. Third Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048. We have re-opened our doors and are happy to welcome you all back.
I know we have only just launched into Springtime, and the sun has been heavily mingled with the rain recently, but let’s recap on a few tips regarding sun protection. It is always a good thing to get a head start on these things in my opinion.
Skin cancer can originate on any part of the body, but some of the most common areas are the nose, ears, upper backs of men and women and the legs of women because of the high incidence of sun burns in these areas. One or more blistering sunburns in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person’s chance of developing melanoma in later life but the good news is the survival rate for patients whose melanoma is detected early – before the tumor has penetrated the skin – is about 99%. For those whose melanoma is advanced, the survival rate is much lower, about 15%. The Mayo clinic is currently building a melanoma vaccine to help combat skin cancer from the inside out. Called cancer immunotherapy it is already showing some promising results and may help to improve the above statistics in the future.
Meanwhile, here are a few important tips to keep you safe. First and foremost, wear a daily SPF and get checked by your dermatologist at least once a year – a full body examination.
Remember to apply your sunscreen 20-30 minutes before exposure, on top of your day creme and under your make-up. For longer periods of exposure, re-apply regularly and generously depending on how long you are outdoors and the sensitivity of your skin. Special Note: water renders most sunscreens ineffective so always re-apply after swimming. Also, apply a good dose of common sense to being outside – use hats, wear long sleeves, stay in the shade, avoid the mid-day sun and on long drives, wear cotton gloves to protect the hands. Remember that SPF 30 blocks 96.6% of the sun’s rays. Higher SPF’s are often more expensive, give a false sense of security, only provide 2-4% extra protection and can be irritating.
Finally, include anti-oxidants in your diet and in your topical skin care regimes. Vitamins E and C, peptides, hyaluronic acid and ceramides strengthen the skin’s natural resistance to the sun, and vegetables containing beta carotene, apricots, tomatoes, green tea and fish oils reduce inflammation and sensitivity. For women, mineral cosmetics provide another layer of protection.
Self tanning lotions have come a long way in recent years. They smell better, look a lot more natural and offer a much safer way of achieving a golden hue in the summer months. When you have a fit of nostalgia and start thinking about those old fashioned sun bathing sessions just remind yourself that the sun is on the top of the list as far as aging is concerned. I think we all saw “Something about Mary”. Need I say more!!