6 Trails for Choosing a Safe and Good Sunscreen


Here is the sun. With the pleasures of warmth and more time to enjoy the outdoors, the usual worries and confusion about sunscreen come back. The struggle to separate facts from fiction has become an annual ritual as news reports appear and clickbait owners issue apocalyptic warnings.

The good news is that as more and more people realize the importance and potential shortcomings of sun protection, new research is starting to emerge.

Example: The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a proposal in February 2019 in the Federal Register to update the sun protection regulations. And in May 2019, the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy group, released its 13th annual Sunscreen Guide.

The bad news is that the new eWG report revealed that about two-thirds of the sunscreens available in the US do not offer adequate protection or contain ingredients that the FDA has not yet established. are safe and effective. Unlike Europe, which regulates sunscreens such as beauty products and where the government approves 27 active ingredients, the FDA currently allows only 16 active ingredients. But the FDA recently decided that 12 of them, including oxybenzone and octinoxate, needed more testing before being considered safe.

Americans are increasingly worried about using non-toxic products at home, as reported in an article published in August 2018 in Progressive Grocer. It is therefore not surprising that the search for so-called clean sunscreens. After all, it’s something that applies directly to the larger organ of your body. But there is so much misinformation in social networks that, according to a study published in May 2019 in the journal Health Communication, some people click on the links to know how to make their own homemade sunscreen, with dangerous results. (Read: coconut oil and beeswax do not work, sorry, Pinterest).

To sort through what the report found and quickly cut to the bottom line, we narrowed your sunscreen shopping checklist down to these six easy steps:

1. Read the Label Before Choosing Your Sunscreen

Sorting a list of ingredients that are difficult to pronounce, let alone understand, can be overwhelming. So, what are the key things to keep in mind? “Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least 30 FPS,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, a New York-based dermatologist. “That means it protects against UVB and UVA rays.”

Warning regarding SPF levels: Although doctors recommend at least 30, according to the EWG, products claiming high SPF values ​​are on the rise and misleading. One problem is that the SPF value on the product labels only matches the UVB protection. Therefore, sunscreen with a higher SPF may not properly protect the skin from harmful ultraviolet A rays that cause skin aging and possibly melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer.

According to the FDA, products with a high SPF can also mislead people into thinking they are completely protected from sunburn and long-term skin damage. This false sense of security sometimes leads people to think that it is normal to spend more time in direct sunlight, so that they end up receiving more ultraviolet rays, not less.

2. Learn the Pros and Cons of Mineral and Chemical Sunscreens

When deciding on the best way to protect yourself from ultraviolet rays, you should keep in mind that many things can be overwhelming. Some advocates of pure beauty will tell you that the answer is simple: choose a mineral rather than a chemical. But not everyone agrees.

What is the difference? “Mineral sunscreens contain zinc oxide alone or in combination with titanium dioxide,” says Dr. Zeichner. “They form a protective seal on the surface of the skin and protect it by reflecting UV rays.They tend to be more chalky and leave a white skin.The chemical sunscreens contain compounds that absorb ultraviolet rays and prevent them from they are completely absorbed by the skin, but can cause irritation in people with sensitive skin. ”

The position of the electronic working group on how sunscreens need to be formulated is firm. “We recommend opting for a mineral-based sunscreen,” said Carla Burns, a research analyst for the Washington-based Assessment Working Group, who administered the updated Sun Protection Guide 2019. She suggests choosing products based on zinc oxide. or titanium dioxide as active ingredients, as these products generally offer good sun protection and have fewer health problems than active ingredients.

As in the case of healthy eating and clean beauty, in some settings it has become commonplace to talk about using a “clean” sunscreen. The problem is that there is no standard definition of what this term means. “Some people define a clean sunscreen as containing no chemicals blocking ingredients,” Zeichner said. “Others define it as containing only sustainable organic ingredients.The eWG tends to recommend a mineral-based sunscreen, and despite their recommendations, most dermatologists also recommend sunscreen chemicals. “The sunscreens currently available in the US are safe and active, and the benefit of protecting the skin from harmful UV rays outweighs any perceived risk to our health.”

Holly Thaggard, Founder and Executive Director of Supergoop, the first high-end skincare brand based in San Antonio, Texas, says mineral and chemical sunscreens may be right for you, depending on your skin type. “Chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays, so your skin does not absorb them, and they allow light and sometimes clear formulas, excellent for everyday use, multiple skin tones, beach and exercise. Solar minerals consist of small white particles that protect against UV rays (zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or both) and are softer, making it an ideal solution for sensitive or acne-prone skin. ”

One of the problems is that if people feel that sunscreen does not suit their faces, they may not use it every day. “As you know, mineral sunscreens affect the fact that they are not aesthetically elegant, they leave a film, and it’s not great, especially for darker skin,” says Dr. Sapna Westley, dermatologist in New York. “I have a lot of patients who are very nervous about any chemical and are just using a zinc-titanium block and doing it perfectly.”

Thaggard agrees that mineral sunscreens are not so easy to use and need to be formulated carefully to ensure stability and efficiency, but both options are viable. “At Supergoop, we believe there is a place and time for two sunscreens: clean chemicals, also called non-oxybenzone, and soon there will be no more octinoxate, and 100% minerals. , which contain zinc oxide or dioxide, titanium or both that always combine perfectly “.

3. Know the Difference Between Oxybenzone and Avobenzone

“The prolific use of oxybenzone remains a concern because it has been associated with skin sensitization and hormone disruption,” Burns said. “However, we found oxybenzone in two-thirds of the non-mineral products we evaluated.”

According to a study published in May 2019 by JAMA on the speed with which certain products containing SPF are absorbed by the skin, these studies were based on tests in which people covered 75% of the skin. your body with sunscreen every two hours. “It’s unclear if there are reasons to worry about absorption based on how most people use sunscreen in the real world,” he said. “According to our current knowledge, the use of a sunscreen to protect the skin against skin cancer and premature aging outweighs the potential risks.If anyone is concerned about the use of screens Sunscreens, mineral options containing zinc oxide alone or in combination with titanium dioxide are a great option. ”

Thaggard adds, “Oxybenzone is an inexpensive and frequently used active ingredient found in some sunscreens. Although it helps to achieve a high sun protection factor, it is also widely recognized as one of the most irritating raw ingredients with which you can work, unlike the alternative, to avobenzone much more compatible with the non-controversial skin, which is essential for a clean, broad spectrum spectrum cleaner. “Oxybenzone is on our list of” non-lists “among the First Days, but we believe that clean chemical options are fundamental to the widespread adoption of FPS by consumers and the eradication of the epidemic. skin cancer. ”

4. Why Broad Spectrum Matters When Picking a Sunblock

According to the FDA, this broad-spectrum sunscreen protects against UVA rays, which cause wrinkles, and UVB rays, which cause sunburn and skin cancer. “When it comes to sun protection, most people tend to think only of sunburn,” says Thaggard. “But the truth is that they forget a completely different kind of damage – UVA rays penetrate even deeper into the skin surface, which can contribute to skin cancer and can also cause signs of aging. It’s important to remember that UVA rays are present year-round at about the same intensity, even on cloudy days or through windows. ”

5. Check for Your Sunscreen’s Water Resistance

If you go to the beach or pool in the summer, using a waterproof sunscreen is very easy. But it’s also a very smart choice for everyday use, says Dr. Westley. “Water resistant sunscreens are good because the general rule is that we tell people to reapply every two hours. And many people do not realize that they sweat all day, especially when they are wet. Water-resistant sunscreens provide extra protection for people, even if they are not in the real water. “Sunscreens are labeled as such.

Since 2011, the FDA has banned manufacturers from claiming that any sunscreen is “waterproof” or “sweat resistant”. Labels may indicate “water resistant”, but only if the sunscreen has been shown to remain effective in water for 40 or 80 minutes. “According to FDA regulations, sunscreen labels that claim to be water resistant must indicate how long you can use the product while swimming or sweating before introducing a new application,” says Westley. “I recommend water resistance for up to 80 minutes to give you extra coverage.”

6. Keep the Vitamin D Factor in Mind

You’ve probably heard about the importance of vitamin D since childhood. It’s no secret that vitamin D is essential to overall wellness, whether it’s bone health, immune function, or the treatment of depression, according to the National Institutes of Health. And according to the Vitamin D chart, the most natural way to expose your skin directly to UVB rays. “The internal medicine doctors will tell their patients, ‘Sit in the sun 10 minutes a day to get your vitamin D,’ says Westley. “And we dermatologists say,” No, do not do it without sunscreen because you can get skin cancer, “so that could be a bit controversial.” Commitment? “Because it’s so easy and inexpensive, I advise patients to take vitamin D supplements.” Westley, who recommends his patients check their D levels each year, says he prefers the D3 because It can also eat fortified foods fortified with vitamin D, such as egg yolks, oily fish such as mackerel and salmon, some cheeses and beef liver, according to the NIH.