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Natural vs. Man Made Sun Screens; A Study

Natural sun care products have been making the news for several years now. While natural sun care is much talked about, it still represents less than 1% of the sun care markets. Let’s look at the actual facts. Perhaps a more scientific approach will allow for better decision making.

Natural Sun Care is generally thought of in two ways:

  1. The most natural sun care is sun protective apparel. A handful of companies have taken it upon themselves to develop sun protective apparel for today’s active lifestyle. One of these is SanSoleil… Sun Care You Can Wear…

  1. Natural sun care lotions uses botanically sourced ingredients. These ingredients are found in fauna, flora, and minerals. These ingredients must currently exist in or are formed by nature, without the use of synthetic chemicals and are manufactured in such a way to preserve the integrity of the ingredients. According to the Natural Products Association, natural ingredients must come from a renewable/plentiful resource found in nature, with absolutely no petroleum compounds.

Why is it so important to use natural skin care products?

Simply put, our skin is the largest organ of the body; the substances you put on it can and will be absorbed. The body works harmoniously with natural products and will recognize and metabolize natural ingredients better than synthetic ones.

Why go to Sun Protective Apparel?

If your sun care product contains any of the following ingredients, you are exposing yourself to toxic chemicals which can be potentially dangerous to health.

Parabens, Sulfates, Petrolatum/Mineral Oil/ Paraffin, Phthalates, Oxybenzone, Avobenzone (Parsol 1789), Octocrylene, Octinoxate, Homosalate, Octisalate, PABA, Padimate O, Propylene Glycol, MEA/DEA/TEA, DMDM Hydantoin/Diazolidinyl/Urea/Methylisothiazolinone

Why are all products not all natural?

Chemical-laden, synthetic formulas are cheaper, easy to use, are abundant in supply and last longer than natural products.

What is the difference between a chemical and a physical sunscreen?

A chemical sunscreen is absorbed by the skin. Sunlight is deactivated or degraded after contact with the organic chemicals contained in the sunscreen. Chemical sunscreens typically contain a range of ingredients like benzones, aminobenzoic acid and cinnamates that, together, protect against UVA and UVB.

A physical block, in contrast, sits on the skin’s surface and contains inorganic compounds like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide that are not absorbed into the skin. In this case, light is either absorbed into sunscreen material or reflected away from the skin, similar to a mirror or aluminum foil. Ingredients in physical sunscreens protect against both UVA and UVB and, because they are not absorbed into the skin, they are nonirritating and nonallergenic.

Physical block/mineral sunscreens have the best safety profile of today’s choices. They are stable in sunlight and do not appear to penetrate the skin. They offer UVA protection, which is sorely lacking in most of today’s sunscreen products.

Why should I avoid chemical sunscreens?

Common sunscreen ingredients are suspected or known carcinogens and/or hormone disrupters, including diethanolamine, triethanolamine (DEA, TEA), padimate-o, octyl dimethyl PABA, benzophenone, oxybenzone, homosalate, octyl-methoxycinnamate (octinoxate), salicylates, and parabens.

The results of numerous studies suggest that many of the popular sunscreens could contribute to cancer due to their mutagenic and free radical generating properties. And perhaps a more disturbing finding is that many commonly used sunscreen chemicals have strong estrogenic actions that may interfere with normal sexual development and cause reproductive problems. Chemicals in sunscreens can also cause skin irritation and rashes.

Many popular sunscreens contain the chemical ingredient Benzophenone (or its derivatives Benzophenone-3 or Oxybenzone) since it is one of the best of the chemical sunscreens in protecting against both UVA and UVB rays. However, sunscreens containing these chemicals are NOT a good choice. Here is an instance in which the protection may create more harm than good and actually cause the disease it’s trying to prevent. Benzophenone is a powerful free radical generator activated by ultraviolet light. These free radicals could initiate a reaction that may ultimately lead to melanoma and other skin cancers.

Studies show that some of the chemicals in sunscreens are absorbed into the bloodstream in significant amounts. The longer sunscreen chemicals are left on the skin, the greater the absorption into the body. One study notes “it would be prudent not to apply oxybenzone to large surface areas of skin for extended and repeated periods of time, unless no alternative protection is available. There may be an additional concern for young children who have less well-developed processes of elimination, and have a larger surface area per body weight than adults.”

Many sunscreen products contain triethanolamine (TEA). This ingredient may combine with nitrite (used as a preservative or may be present as an environmental contaminant) to cause formation of cancer-causing nitrosamines. Nitrites are not disclosed on cosmetic labels so there’s no way of telling which products are contaminated with nitrosamines. Particularly disturbing is that up to 35 percent of TEA applied to the skin can enter the bloodstream.

Differences between SPF Ratings:

What is the difference between an SPF 15 and an SPF30+ and what are the benefits of using a higher SPF?

An SPF 15 sunscreen blocks 93% of UVB radiation, an SPF 30 sunscreen blocks nearly 97% while an SPF above 50 blocks an estimated 98% of UVB rays. Switching to a spf 50+, the increase in UVB protection is minimal.

The pros to a higher SPF:

1) Consumers generally do not apply enough sunscreen. To evaluate SPFs, testers apply two milligrams of sunscreen per square centimeter of skin. But in everyday life, most people apply from only 0.5 to one milligram per square centimeter of skin. Consequently, the actual SPF they achieve is approximately 1/3 of the labeled value, so using a higher SPF can be a benefit.

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