The Best Sunblock is One You Use!
Using sun protection products such as sunblock is the best thing you can do for your skin because it actually prevents premature aging. The sun’s rays can penetrate through to the middle layer of skin (the dermis) where the collagen which plumps out our skin is formed. These rays damage the collagen and elastin and our skin loses the ability to “snap back” which leads to sagging and eventually deep lines and wrinkles. The best sunblock is a natural one that is chemical free.
All of us who are now in our middle years will have some degree of sun damage or photo aging as at the time we were growing up, sunblock or sunscreen was only considered useful on the beach. Even then they came in low protection formulas such as 4 and 8 sun protection factor (SPF). Broad spectrum sun filters were unheard of. Broad spectrum sun blocks filter both UVA and UVB rays (see bottom of page). The older sunscreens also used PABA which causes allergies in a lot of people.
Nowadays the climatic conditions mean the sun’s rays are more deadly than ever and fortunately people are becoming more aware of the dangers and using sun protection more often. The health risks from too much sun, for instance skin cancers, by far outweigh the outward considerations such as wrinkles. The trouble is some of these products are a chemical nightmare (just read the ingredients!)
So it’s a balance between getting effective protection while minimizing chemical absorption. Once we’ve found the best sunblock for us, then we have to remember to use it. But hey, we’re human! Here’s the complaints I hear over and over about using sunblock …
- I hate it, it’s sticky and my hair sticks to my face.
- My makeup won’t stay on properly when I use it.
- It gets in my eyes and stings!
- I have an allergy to sunblock
The best sunblock is natural and doesn’t feel sticky
To find the best sunblock, one that is not sticky involves a lot of trial and error, not to mention expense. We need a natural sunblock which doesn’t leave a sticky film and can be used under make up. It should be based on ingredients that reflect damaging UVA and UVB and is also an effective moisturizer
The effectiveness of a sunblock or sunscreen is measured by its SPF or sun protection factor. Hence a block with an SPF of 15 means that you could stay out in the sun 15 times longer than if you were not wearing it. Dermatologists and doctors recommend SPF15 for general use. If you are out in the sun all day or have very fair skin with red hair, you may be better off going for a higher SPF rating.
What is UV?
UV (short for ultraviolet radiation) are rays emitted from the sun.
These rays are always present during the day even when the sun is not shining. On a cloudy day up to 80% can still come through. They are attacking you when you are driving, especially with the window open, and if you are sitting at home in the sun near a window, well guess what? They’re still going to get you!
UV rays come in three categories, UVA and UVB and UVC. UVC is absorbed by the earth’s atmosphere and does not reach us, the other two are the ones to worry about.
UVA rays used to be considered harmless and most of the older sunscreens that did not contain zinc did not filter out UVA. Today we know that UVA rays are the most dangerous as they can penetrate right through the skin and damage the support systems of collagen and elastin.
UVB does not penetrate the skin quite as much but still causes a lot of
damage and is responsible for most sunburn.
Make sure any sunblock or sunscreen you use has broad spectrum UV protection against both of these, this will also ensure further protection against infra red rays as well.
Those containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide do this well. Zinc oxide is an effective physical block, it can also help to heal minor skin irritations. Titanium dioxide is a known UV reflector. The Therapeutic Goods Association in Australia has found no untoward effect from use these products on the skin as they are not absorbed into the deeper skin layer. (Jan 2006)
Other ways to reduce sun damage
Wearing a broad brimmed hat is a great way to stop sun damage and is a good idea to wear one if you are going to be in the sun for any length of time. Long sleeved and legged garments in a light color help with the rest of you. Clothing with SPF protection is also available, great if you work outside.Be aware too that up to 90% of UV rays can be reflected off glass, water, metal surfaces, light colored walls etc so they’re attacking from every angle!
If possible avoid being outside for any length of time from mid morning
to late afternoon as between those times the rays are strongest and can do the most damage to your skin.
The folk who are most at risk from sun damage are those with lighter
colored hair and light eyes. For these people a higher SPF is recommended. Skin will repair itself if it is looked after and protected properly but it is a gradual process.
Taking antioxidants like vitamin C is said to help. There are various
cosmetics which can also assist, see the page on anti-aging-skin-care – If you are still young take heed now! Use a sunblock every day and your skin will look great for the rest of your life.
Recent research shows that Lutein – an antioxidant found in dark green
vegetables – may help in protecting skin from sun damage, so munch away on those vegies! Other information just to hand is – application of retin A or a retinol product can prevent collagen damage. The retin A slows the bio chemical changes that lead to aging skin.
***I have added a caveat to all this. It has recently been proved that vitamin D which comes from sun exposure can protect us from various forms of cancer. So some sun exposure is important. The way I handle this is to leave my body free of sunblock unless I’m going to be out in the sun for a long time. I still wear sunblock everyday on my face.
I live in Australia where the sun shines most days. If you hardly ever see the sun, you may want to take a vitamin D supplement. Make sure it’s D3 & not the inferior D2. Vitamin D can be added to milk and other foods in some countries, so be aware & don’t overdose.