3 things you might not know about sunscreen

3 things you might not know about sunscreen

Living in New Zealand, you're probably used to being told to protect your skin with sunscreens. Sun protection is, in fact, very important for your skin's health. However, there are lots of myths and misinformation out there surrounding sun protection. To clear things up, we've outlined a few facts about sunscreen you should know as you go to make your purchasing decisions.

Broad-spectrum is important

When choosing a sunblock, it's important to look for products that promise 'broad-spectrum' protection. There are three types of ultraviolet (UV) rays emitted by the sun: UVA, UVB and UVC. UVC rays are absorbed by the atmosphere before reaching the earth, so they aren't a concern. UVA and UVB rays both penetrate the atmosphere are are liable to damage your skin. As a result, it's important to seek out sun protection that covers you from both types of rays – this is signified by the term 'broad-spectrum'.

SPF isn't as simple as it sounds

Many consumers believe they can purchase sunscreen with a sun-protection factor (SPF) of 50 and go about their day. However, this isn't the case. SPF is generally determined by how long you can stay out in the sun before becoming burned. For example, a sunblock with an SPF of 30 would allow you to stay outside 30 times longer than you could without sunscreen before you start becoming burned.

This means that an SPF 30 product isn't twice as effective as an SPF 15 product – the sunscreen simply lasts a big longer. However, even this can be affected by factors such as swimming, the amount of sunscreen applied, sweating and other variations in use. 

So how should you choose an SPF level? New Zealand officials recommend choosing a sunscreen product with an SPF of at least 50. Furthermore, you should apply you sunblock liberally and reapply it often.

Sun protection can come from various ingredients

There are a variety of ingredients, both chemical and non-chemical, that can offer SPF protection. The Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep project broke down a few of these ingredient options. As you shop for sunscreens, you may want to consider whether you want your product to be natural or chemical, or whether you want it to include a few controversial ingredients.

Retinyl palmitate (Vitamin A): Because it's a vitamin, this ingredient may sound safe and nontoxic – but the reality is a different story. In high amounts, this ingredient has been shown to cause reproductive problems. Consider, for example, the drug Accutane, which is often taken for the treatment of acne. It consists of high-dose Vitamin A, and women who take the drug are required to be on more than one method of birth control during treatment in order to prevent reproductive problems.

Furthermore, some dermatologists attest that Vitamin A increases the rate of cell turnover. While this makes it a good anti-ageing product, many doctors worry that this thins skin layers over time, making users more susceptible to sunburn. 

Oxybenzone: Oxybenzone offers sun protection, but it also correlated with photoallergic reactions and endocrine disruption. Sunscreens come in two forms: Those that absorb radiation and those that deflect it away from the skin. Oxybenzone is an example of a chemical that absorbs radiation.

Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide: These two ingredients often come in a pair. Together, they provide natural broad-spectrum protection without having to absorb radiation into the skin. They are good examples of natural sunscreen ingredients that deflect UVA and UVB rays away from the skin. The EWG has rated them both as low-concern in terms of cancer or reproductive dangers.

Rachelle Kazenbroot

Rachelle Kazenbroot, a pharmacist of 17 years, has developed a loyal following among locals for her genuine concern for the individual needs of each customer. With a wide knowledge base and a driving passion for complementary therapies, she is results focused when it comes to customer health care.

Her vision for Netpharmacy was to create a seamless experience for those who prefer the convenience of on line shopping, by providing quality care and service without compromise.

Rachelle’s background combines two disciplines – as well as being a qualified pharmacist she also studied natural health – she is able to offer customers both on line and in store, the best of both worlds.

Rachelle Kazenbroot, a pharmacist of 17 years, has developed a loyal following among locals for her genuine concern for the individual needs of each customer. With a wide knowledge base and a driving passion for complementary therapies, she is results focused when it comes to customer health care. Her vision for Netpharmacy was to create a seamless experience for those who prefer the convenience of on line shopping, by providing quality care and service without compromise. Rachelle’s background combines two disciplines – as well as being a qualified pharmacist she also studied natural health – she is able to offer customers both on line and in store, the best of both worlds.