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There are two basic types of sunscreen. Chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the skin and absorb ultraviolet light. Zinc oxide or titanium dioxide sunscreens are called mineral or physical sunscreens because they stay on top of your skin and deflect UVA and UVB rays.
A recent clinical study by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agency found that some commonly used sunscreen chemicals can seep through your skin and into your bloodstream. The study found that even after a single application, the chemicals remain in your body for an extended period.
The FDA did not say that these chemical ingredients are necessarily harmful to your health but some are under review in the US and are already banned in Europe. Oxybenzone, in particular, has been shown to cause allergic reactions and some studies have linked it to hormone problems, and some cancers. In addition, chemicals that dissolve in water sources like rivers, lakes, and the ocean, can be extremely harmful to aquatic life.
There are safer sunscreen alternatives
For those with sensitive skin, mineral or physical sunscreens cause fewer skin reactions because they don't get absorbed by your skin. Some people don’t like mineral sunscreens because they can leave a white film on your skin, but some brands have new formulas that use tiny micronized particles or skin-tone tints to reduce the appearance of the sunscreen.
Mineral sunscreens are also believed to be a better choice for the environment. But if you do purchase a chemical sunscreen check the ingredients to be sure they don’t contain oxybenzone or octinoxate — these are the chemicals most detrimental to marine life (and possibly you).
Why “SPF 30” and “Broad Spectrum” are important
UVA rays form 95% of the UV (ultraviolet) radiation which reaches the earth. UVA rays are the concern in forming some types of skin cancers. UVB rays have a shorter wavelength that can only reach the outer layer of your skin called the epidermis. SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is a measure of a product’s ability to protect you from the sun’s UVB rays that cause sunburn.
Dermatologists recommend an SPF of 30 or higher, which blocks 97 percent of UVB rays. An SPF of more than 30 isn’t really going to add much more protection. Be sure to look for “broad spectrum” in addition to SPF 30, which is a better indicator that the sunscreen will also help protect you from the UVA rays which cause wrinkles and aging.
Get regular skin checkups
No matter how careful you are about using sunscreen, everyone is at risk for skin cancer and early detection is your best defense. So be sure to schedule a yearly skin check-up with your dermatologist IN ADDITION to daily use of your favorite mineral sunscreen.
Get to know Visiting Nurse Association of Northern New Jersey (VNA) now, and all the home health services available to you and your loved ones, before you have a health emergency. We are proud to be the longest-serving VNA in the state of New Jersey, so we know a thing or two about helping seniors.
The Visiting Nurse Association of Northern New Jersey (VNA) is a leading provider of comprehensive home health care services in Morris, Hunterdon, Sussex, and Warren Counties in Northern New Jersey. Established in 1898, generations have known that just one call to VNA opens the door to quality, patient-centered home health care solutions that allow patients to remain in the comfort of their homes with dignity, health, and independence.
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