An In-depth Look at Sunscreen: Part II

skin care nutritionIn our last post, we discussed the necessity for sunscreen use. More specifically, what we should look for when choosing an appropriate sunscreen. The value in any sun-protective product does not lie in an ultra-high SPF. Rather than a high number, consumers should look for wording that ensures they are getting the broad-spectrum protection they need from both UVA and UVB rays. In this post, we will talk about mineral sunscreen products, potentially troubling ingredients, and the need for adequate vitamin D.

Ingredients Matter

What we put on our skin can have just as much of an impact on health and wellness as what we put in our mouth. Sunscreen is a necessary product, but that does not mean it is without risks. In this year’s Environmental Working Group guide, we see that mineral-based sunscreens were ranked more favorably than counterparts. Typically, we recognize zinc oxide sunscreen for its pasty white appearance. Today, mineral products containing this ingredient or titanium dioxide are formulated with nanoparticles that significantly reduce the appearance of lotion on the skin. Many of the products reviewed by the EWG contain no additives, and offer broad-spectrum protection while remaining stable in sunlight.

On the flip side of protective minerals, there are additives in some sunscreens that may not be as beneficial as initially believed. One such ingredient is retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A. This ingredient, according to government data, reacts to sunlight, causing it to potentially accelerate the growth rate of skin lesions and tumors.

Another ingredient with which some sunscreens are formulated is oxybenzone. Its role is to filter UV light, and it continues to be a common ingredient in non-mineral based sunscreens (70%, according to the EWG). The concern with oxybenzone is that it is an allergen for some, and it could disrupt hormones.

Let’s Talk Vitamin D

With all the talk about skin cancers and sun protection, we have seen a growing trend of people choosing to stay indoors more often than not. The problem with sun avoidance altogether is that vitamin D synthesize relies on exposure to natural sunlight. We need vitamin D for a healthy immune system, strong bones, and for protection against various types of cancer.  Eight percent of the people in our country have a serious deficiency, and a quarter of Americans are borderline deficient in this necessary vitamin. To avoid vitamin D deficiency, talk with your doctor about supplementation, or the safest possible way to promote vitamin D synthesis through sun exposure in the early morning hours.

The American Society for Mohs Surgery supports physicians in their quest for optimal patient outcomes through educational awareness. For information on our professional medical society, call (800) 616-2767.

Posted in: MOHS Surgery, Skin Care

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