Are you Tanning Safely? (Part 3 of 3)
After reviewing the information over the first two parts in this series, it is clear that while there are many ways to get a golden tan, the long term effects may be more than one may bargain for. Whether you are a sun seeker or not, including sun protection in your daily routine should be a habit like brushing our teeth especially in the summer when exposure is at its highest.
All sunscreens sold in Canada and United States will have a drug identification number (DIN) on it. Products from Europe will not have a DIN number as they consider sunscreen a cosmetic and are hard to import into North America. On all the over the counter drugs the active ingredients must be bolded and listed first.
As it was stated in part one, UVA rays penetrate the dermis causing aging and dermal damage while UVB remains in the epidermis causing a burn. Sunscreens are created to either absorb or reflect UV rays. Most sunscreens available are meant to absorb. It should also be noted that there is no product available that provides 100% protection (blocking) from UV rays.
What is the difference between absorbing and reflecting?
Chemical sunscreens absorb and neutralize UV rays through a chemical reaction and only work on UVB rays. It is possible that the product used can irritate the skin and creates heat as UV rays are absorbed. It does not provide protection from UVA rays. Common ingredients used in chemical sunscreens include Octyl methoxycinnamate (most popular for UVB sunscreens and commonly combined with other absorbing sunscreens), Octyl salicylate (absorbs a different area of the UVB spectrum) and Benxophenone-3 (absorbs some UVA and UVB).
Physical (Particulate) sunscreens reflect UV rays. They block most of both the UVB and UVA rays. The most common ingredients are Zinc oxide and Titanium dioxide pigments and are the only approved particulates. Through the process of micronization the particles are finely ground so they are less visible than they use to be. These are less irritating on the skin than chemical sunscreens.
Using a broad spectrum sunscreen will provide the best coverage and protection against UVA and UVB rays. It is recommended that you use SPF of 15 or higher. Even on cloudy days 80% can still penetrate through.
More about Sunscreens
- Sunscreen should be applied under makeup. There are many foundations available that include sunscreen protection in the formulation offering additional protection.
- There are different kinds of formulations such as creams (for dry skin), lotions and fluids (for normal combination skins), ultra-light non-comedogenic lotion or gel (for oilier skin types)
- Some products may include additional ingredients such as green tea or chamomile for sensitive skins.
- Most daily use sunscreens are also hydrators to assist in moistening the skin.
- Some sunscreens are also water/sweat resistant which are thicker, heavier and comedogenic.
Additional information can be found here; http://www.smartskincare.com/skinprotection/sunscreen_fundamentals.html
What does the SPF number mean?
If you typically burn after 15 minutes of exposure and you are using an SPF of 15, it means you have 15x more protection from burning. This would give you up to 225 minutes. It is recommended to reapply your sunscreen after swimming, in and out of water exposure or further sun exposure.
Additional information on sunscreen can be found here:
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/life-vie/sun_soleil-eng.php#ro (Health Canada Website) http://www.fda.gov/drugs/resourcesforyou/consumers/buyingusingmedicinesafely/understandingover-the-countermedicines/ucm239463.htm (US – FDA Website)
Tips on sun safety can be found here:
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/securit/season-saison/summer-ete/air-eng.php#uvindex (Health Canada Website)
All information used in this series was directly researched from the training received through the Esthetician program and through a website search. It is highly encouraged and recommended that you research further to better educate yourself and take the appropriate precautions for your own health and wellbeing.