Friday, November 4, 2011

Hands up if you're confused about sunscreen?

Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown

I've been researching an article on sun protection, and boy did my jaw drop, more than once. I've clearly had my head in the sand since circa 1990 when sunscreen was touted as the be-all-and-end-all in melanoma prevention. It's been drilled into us to never get sunburnt, but unless you read the fine print you could be doing just as much damage, long term, as previous 'un-sun-educated' generations.
 
For years, I have tuned out when sun safety messages come on television, thinking I know it all already. 'Slip, slop, slap', right? Well, things have changed Beaunz belles, so you need to re-educate yourself. Most experts now say that sunscreen is NOT your best protection against melanoma. Sunscreens do help to prevent sunburn, but studies show that this gives us a false sense of security, so we stay out in the sun for longer and expose ourselves to more UVA rays, which penetrate deeper and cause more damage. A new 'du du duuuuu' for me was that many common sunscreen ingredients generate free radicals that actually accelerate skin ageing and can cause skin cancer themselves. If you don't apply the right sunscreen, enough of it, and often enough, you could actually cause more damage than going without (not recommended either). Sheesh...
 
Cancer experts recommend staying out of the sun altogether during peak hours (10am-4pm) and covering up with a hat, shirt and sunglasses. Sunscreen should be used in addition, to protect areas like the face, neck, arms and hands. But, this is where it gets really confusing, because sunscreens are not all created equal. Natural vs mineral vs chemical...zinc vs titanium...nanoparticles vs micronised...UVA vs UVB protection...here I was thinking as long as it was SPF30 and didn't contain retinyl palmitate, I was doing my job.
 
It is important to be informed so you can make your own decisions. There is comprehensive information and a database of sunscreens ranked according to safety and efficacy here , specific sun protection facts for kids here and a thought provoking article written by Gill South for the NZ Herald here
 
Personally, I have been using a newish product called Shelter on my face, and it is the best sun protection skin care product I have come across (especially as it is packed with hyaluronic acid and doubles as a great moisturiser). I stocked up on The Cancer Society Mineral Zinc for my body, and Ultra Children's sun screen for my daughter , as well as this ditsy print hat by Bébé. All I need now is a cute sun protection suit and some sunglasses for her. Who said being responsible isn't any fun?

x
 

3 comments:

kanga said...

very interesting!! I have been looking for the right sunscreen...this'll help my decision!!

Beaunz said...

Great! Apparently Invisible Zinc is also good.

LisaJ said...

I love Shelter too, and Osmosis Quench.