June 1st kicks off the start of Summer. There’s barbecues and parties, pool time and memories to be made. With all these fun activities come being out in the nice warm shining sun, and after the winter we just had (and freezing weather a month ago) who can blame them?
The first thing that we do when we arrive at the beach, or poolside is to grab for the sunscreen. It’s only common sense. I can still hear my mom tell me “put sunscreen on or you’ll get sunscreen!” Maybe it’s because she told me just last week to do the same thing, but now that I am a mom, I am very conscious about making sure my son has the proper protection from the suns’ harmful rays.
When I was given the assignment to write a post about sunscreens and their ingredients I was thrilled. I love learning new things and couldn’t wait to start my research. There are so many different types of sunscreens on the market today and they all claim to do the same thing. So what makes one different from the next one?
The term “Sunscreen” is more described for chemical sunscreens that absorb into your skin. The term “Sunblock” was used to describe mineral sunscreens that would sit on top of your skin and have very minimal absorption. In 2011 the FDA passed a law that sunscreen companies can no longer print the word “Sunblock” on their packaging less the populace think that it blocks all the damage from the sun. They also cannot put a SPF of 55+ as to again not confuse people into thinking they are 100% protected from the suns’ rays. Also very important, companies can no longer claim their product as “water-proof” or “sweat-proof.” If they do label them “water resistant” they must include a time limit on when their product is water resistant for. Read more about FDA specific rules about sunscreen here.
When looking for the best sunscreen for your family there are a few different types to consider.
“The most common sunscreens on the market contain chemical filters. These products typically include a combination of two to six of these active ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. Mineral sunscreens use zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide.”
Physical/Mineral Sunscreens sit atop the skin reflecting the UV rays away and prevent the UV radiation from reaching the skin. Chemical sunscreens absorb into the skin to absorb UV rays and use chemical filters. Both have to be re-applied after a certain amount of time and both have pros & cons of use.
One of the first ingredients in sunscreen was Zinc Oxide. You may remember old episodes of Baywatch where the lifeguards’ had white on their noses. That was pure zinc. Zinc Oxide is one of the best ways to protect your skin from the sun, and is actually one of the only FDA approved ingredients suitable for baby’s sunscreen. Zinc Oxide is mostly found in mineral (physical) sunscreens. Zinc Oxide can be Micro-sized or nano-sized. Another physical sunscreen ingredient is Titanium Dioxide. Titanium Dioxide has a slight more chance of a carcinogenic hazard than Zinc Oxide. It can also be micro or nano-sized. A lot of the time people will use physical sunscreen on their children but opt for the clear qualities of a chemical sunscreen for themselves. It’s easy to tell when you miss a spot with physical sunscreen since it leaves your skin white in its wake.
Chemical Sunscreens often have two or more of these ingredients in them to make them effective. The most common are oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. Often times people are drawn to chemical sunscreens since they go on clear and absorb into the skin.
I have complied a list of pros and cons to each type of sunscreen to help you find which one is right for you!
Pros of Chemical Sunscreen:
• Is usually thinner in texture and spreads more easily on skin
• Comes in spray form for easier application
• Usually need less to apply to skin for full coverage since there is less risk of no space between the chemical molecules after it is applied
• The chemical formula is easier to apply to other products, found in a lot of makeups, lotions and even skincare products.
Cons of Chemical Sunscreen:
• Requires at least 20 minutes after application for the product to absorb into the skin before it will start to work
• May cause clogged pores on those with oily skin-types
• There is an increased chance of irritation to the skin if you have any cuts or sores, or for those with dry skin. The higher the SPF the higher the chance for irritation of those with dry skin.
• The product has to be applied more often since the UV rays get absorbed more quickly.
• Since the chemicals absorb into your skin, it can cause the chemicals to absorb and possibly act as a hormone disruptor.
Pros of Mineral/Physical Sunscreen:
• Provides natural broad spectrum protection and is a natural UVA and UVB protectant.
• You don’t need to wait to go into the sun after it’s applied.
• Will last longer when in UV direct light than chemical sunscreens, although may be needing a reapplication if exposed to water and sweat.
• Has a longer shelf life than most chemical sunscreens.
• Less likely to clog pores, which is better for those who are more prone to blemishes.
Cons of Mineral/Physical Sunscreen:
• Can rub, run, wash and sweat off more easily than a chemical sunscreen which means more re-application when needed.
• Is usually thicker which takes more effort to apply and uses more product.
• Can be less protective if not applied generously since UV rays can get between the molecules and into the skin.
• It may leave a white-ish cast on your skin after it is applied.
Post by Cari E. Mendez
After reading our blog post on sunscreen and reading through the pro’s and cons, leave us a comment and let us know what you think! Have you heard something about sunscreens that we can add to our list?