Did you know that the surface of the sun burns at 9,944 degrees Fahrenheit?! Yowzers! There are many good reasons to sunbathe, such as Vitamin D uptake and Serotonin production, but it is also wise to protect your skin from that big ball of fire. The ideal form of protection is clothing or shade, but of course this isn’t always a viable option. So let’s review the basics when it comes to choosing the best sun protection products for you and your loved ones.
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, which is a rating system for the level of protection against Ultraviolet B Radiation. UVB rays are what cause sun burns, and an over-exposure to UVB can lead to non-melanoma skin cancer. The numerical value of SPF is a measure of how much UVB is filtered out, as well as how long skin can be exposed to UVB rays before needing to re-apply the lotion/spray. For example, SPF 15 means that you can be in the sun 15 times longer before suffering a sunburn. This means that someone who would normally burn after 30 minutes of sun exposure could theoretically remain in the sun safely for 7.5 hours. Secondly, a common misconception by consumers is that they will get double the protection from SPF 100 compared to SPF 50. In reality, the difference in effectiveness is negligible. SPF 15 filters out 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 filters out 97%, SPF 50 filters out 98%, and SPF 100 filters out 99%. Lastly, it’s important to note that SPF does NOT rate against Ultraviolet A Radiation; UVA rays do not cause sunburns, but they do cause wrinkles, can suppresses the immune system, and can cause melanoma skin cancer. Unfortunately, there is no rating system for protection against UVA rays. All these factors combined often cause consumers to mis-use high SPF products, leading to more damage than protection.
SUNSCREEN vs. SUNBLOCK:
Sunscreens were designed to absorb UVB rays, and therefore when the lotion or spray is applied, it appears transparent. Full Spectrum Sunscreens were created about ten years later, which absorb UVB and UVA rays.
Sunblocks were created to block all forms of UV Radiation; this is accomplished by the lotion scattering the light rays instead of absorbing them. The ingredient, Zinc Oxide, that reflects the UV rays is a natural, metallic substance, and also happens to reflect Visible Light. If you remember from middle school science class, this means that the sunblock will appear white in color because it is reflecting all other colors. Does this bring to mind the iconic image of a lifeguard with a white nose?
NANO vs. NON-NANO:
Now that we know about the method, let’s learn about quality. If the Zinc Oxide in the product is labeled as “nano” that means it’s been broken down so small that the diameter of each of the molecules measures between 1 and 100 nanometers per particle. As a reference, there are ten million nanometers in one centimeter! Nano-enabled Zinc Oxide particles are so small that they can’t scatter Visible Light as effectively as regular Zinc Oxide, and therefore they appear more transparent. On the contrary, nano-enabled Zinc Oxide does scatter UV Rays, despite its size, making consumers very happy. Nano-enabled sunblock was approved by the FDA in 1999, but tragically, modern research is showing that these nano-particles are so small that they are being absorbed into the skin instead of remaining on the dermal layer like their larger counterparts. Because of this, further research is showing that nano-enabled Zinc Oxide is likely a carcinogen.
A carcinogen is a substance that is capable of causing cancer in living tissue. According to Joseph Mercola, MD, extensive research has been done to show that the majority of sunscreens and sunblocks contain carcinogens, as well as hormone disruptors, or other toxic ingredients. Dr. Mercola created a list of ingredients (extensive, but not complete) for consumers to be aware of when choosing a product- see below.
Oxybenzone: carcinogen (present in approximately 70% of sunscreens)
Dioxybenzone: strong evidence of carcinogen, hormone disruptor; and to have a “gender bender” effect in animals.
Homosalate: hormone disruptor
Methylparaben: interferes with genes
Octyl methoxycinnamate: carcinogen
Phenoxyethanol: carcinogen and hormone disruptor
Titanium dioxide: carcinogen only when in nano form
Zinc Oxide: carcinogen only when in nano form
Now let’s take a look at this sun protection dilemma from a broader few…A study by Dr. Elizabeth Plourde showed that despite all the developments and different products that the FDA has approved as safe and effective, cases of Melanoma in Caucasian men in the US have steadily increased from 500,000/yr in 1973 to 3,500,000 in 2008. Cases of Melanoma in Caucasian women in the US have steadily increased from 500,000/yr to 2,500,000, and between 1973 and 2008, African American men and women combined reported approximately 100,000/yr.
Another study to consider shows that the use of sunscreen is so prevalent that it is becoming a biohazard. When we enter oceans, lakes, and pools wearing sunscreen, the products are rinsed off the skin and pollute the environment, including our drinking water. According to University of Delaware marine biologist Danielle Dixson, it is estimated that sunscreen-wearing beach-goers introduce anywhere from 6,000 to 14,000 metric tons of sunscreen into the world’s oceans each year, and all the potentially harmful ingredients along with it. This issue has become a primary concern in the state of Hawaii, where the coral reefs are dying due to high concentration of sunscreen in its bays. In 2017, the state senator Will Espero introduced a bill that would ban the sale of all sunscreens in that state containing the ingredient oxybenzone, the most damaging culprit.
Sunscreen protects against sunburns, but they do not protect against melanoma. They are likely absorbed into the bloodstream, along with potentially dangerous ingredients, causing serious health concerns, as well as contributing to the traces of chemicals being found in natural bodies of water.
Consider using safe and effective sunblock options as the next step in your wellness journey. Recommended brands include:
Banjo Organics Sunblock -locally made and sold by Stillpoint Family Chiropractic
Think Baby Sunblock – available on Amazon
Yours in Health,
The information provided by the Stillpoint Family Chiropractic Wellness Blog is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained on or available through this website is for general information purposes only. Stillpoint Family Chiropractic assumes no responsibility for its accuracy, and encourages its readers to confirm all details from alternate sources, and any and all content is subject to change without notice.