Wintertime is a Great Time to Assess Sunscreen Claims

skin careAn In-depth Look at Sunscreen: Part I
We’re as about as far away from summer as we can get at this point, and we think this is a perfect time for consumers to start looking more closely at the sunscreen products they will use in the coming year. Waiting until the brink of summer to choose the right product to protect against sunburn and skin cancer could mean that you make your decision too quickly. It’s easy to look at a product label and believe it’s claims.

Truth be told, there’s much more to labeling than meets the eye. Here, we will look at some of the important findings of research conducted by the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit organization devoted to making the environment safe and purposeful for us and our children. The EWG has been assessing sunscreen products since 2007, and has reported significant improvements in the last decade. Still, we need to take care when choosing products for ourselves and our children.

It’s Not all about SPF
SPF, or sunburn protection factor, can be oh so misleading. Consumers may believe that an SPF 50 or higher product is sufficient for a day in the sun. First, sunscreen is not a once-and-done type of product. Regardless of SPF, touch-up applications are necessary every few hours. Second, a higher number does not equate to better protection. Period. SPF was also initially established when it was believed that UVB rays were the only concern. Now, the term we need to look for in an appropriate sunscreen is “broad spectrum.” This means that more harmful light is filtered, including UVA rays. The FDA is currently testing new ingredients that would further improve American sunscreens, making them comparable to sunscreen products in the international market.

Application Method Matters
Another concern that both the EWG and the FDA have had for several years is the efficacy of sunscreen sprays. Unfortunately, this is one of the more popular application methods due to its convenience. According to experts, more data needs to be obtained in order to validate the safety of spray sunscreen products. One concern is that the nanoparticles in sprays will be inhaled. Another is that the coating of sunscreen on the skin is too fine to provide adequate protection from sunburn or skin cancer risks.

Data collected by the Environmental Working Group extends beyond these few details. In Part II of our look at sunscreens, we will discuss more about SPF and ingredients that may be counterproductive to the intended goal.

Posted in: Skin Care

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