Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sunscreen Safety And SPF Updates!

Here We Go Again

It seems there is not enough confusion about these two issues, but wait.....I found some recent information to hopefully clear the confusion up once and for all.....or maybe not. There are so many recycled articles and blogs that basically repeat same of a another article done years before without providing any updates or latest research of the information. My articles have also fallen prey to the copy and paste goblin! Sometimes it is difficult to get to the reliable facts..... It's enough to make your head explode!

Sunscreen Safety and SPF (Sun Protection Factor) still have their critics and their advocates in the form of journalists reporting a story or dermatologists giving their latest findings on what it all really means. We, the consumer need correct information!

I will not be deterred!

As a person constantly reviewing and renewing my own research, I am never complacent about the misinformation or lack thereof that is offered to the community of inquirers. So in my relentless quest of keeping it fun, real and factual, I located a very recent article about SPF and its correct use and overblown claims by many manufacturers......titled "Confused by SPF? Take A Number". This was a great article and clearly shows how SPF has been climbing in number by manufacturers trying to compete with one another without concern for the level of chemical burden these companies are placing on our bodies, never mind the fact these high SPF ratings are absolutely unnecessary and borderline ridiculous! Although the New York Times article supports my research and information I wrote about in "Sun Protection Factor (SPF) What Does It Mean?", it also has some misinformation which I'll address.

The disseminated information I provide is still supported by my latest research on certain sunscreen ingredients, but the reference to stability of Avobenzone in sunscreen products in this particular New York Times article, I believe is based on the authors limited knowledge of this ingredient. Back in 1997 Canada, Australia and Europe chose it along with Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide as the criteria for providing the best safety and sun protection in Sunscreens. However, many feel Avobenzone should have been on the list for banned ingredients since it is considered a powerful free radical generator and my initial research on this ingredient still holds today. Oxybenzone is now another ingredient being brought into question also. The Environmental Working Group is keeping an eye on these ingredients. I must state again, this group along with Campaign for Safe Cosmetics creates bias and does not show all information on these ingredients, and most research results have data gaps of 75% or higher. So my research includes them to a degree, but I never rely on them solely for my information.

Making The Argument For Sunscreen Safety

Currently to date, the European Union allows Avobenzone of 5% ratio and not for children under the age of 3 since it is readily absorbed into the epidermis layer. The FDA has not to date made the same safety guideline. The EU is so much farther ahead on stringent regulations, they are my ingredient reference for safety.

Avobenzone also must be stabilized with another sunscreen as named in the New York Times article. This is where the author may have been confused when she wrote that it was one of the few ingredients stable in sunlight. Mexoryl SX is another sunscreen ingredient used to try and stabilize Avobenzone, but it is yet to be proven its success. However, unequivocally it has been shown to be completely unstable in sunlight. It was also found to degrade more rapidly when used in combination with titanium and zinc.

Furthermore, the incidents of cancer actually increased in the 80's and 90's after the promotion of many sunscreen products with watchdog groups linking them to the actual cause of most skin cancers creating further free radical damage through DNA changes......But it is also debated that it may be due to people spending more time in the sun since their new found body armor from the suns UV Rays gave them a false sense of security abusing their sun exposure to the outer limits. Beach goers were not deterred anymore by fear of sun damage with the greatest in a miracle potion as near as the closest drugstore.

With the data still being analyzed on this subject, this debate will rage on between scientists and the medical community on what is actually causing our increase in skin cancer. To some degree, there may be a certain agenda being reached by analysts and impartiality maybe called into question once again.

What do you think?

Are you feeling as overwhelmed as I am? ......In my efforts to figure out what is the safest for me and my readers, the quest has not been without challenge or question. Even my article of "Sunscreens....Are They Safe?" took extensive research, however it is now updated to reflect the new research stemming from sun exposure.

My latest research on vitamin D now shows that the best time to get your daily dose is when the sun is at its highest, not in the early or late hours of the day as was originally reported. The Linus Pauling Award winner just this month, Dr. Michael Holick, renowned expert on vitamin D, director of the Vitamin D, Skin and Bone Research Laboratory and professor of Medicine, Dermatology, Physiology, and Biophysics at Boston University Medical Center, has shown that UVB, the vitamin D stimulator is most intense during peak sunlight hours and it is at its lowest during morning and evening. Proving our body is exposed to actually more intense UVA rays during this time frame. He further studied the importance of the sun in protecting us from many forms of disease, including certain forms of cancer in adults and children. UVB are the burning rays but they are the vitamin D stimulant for our body's immune system. Which now it actually makes more sense because dermatologists tell us to avoid the hours between 10 am and 2 pm to prevent burning. However, this is when we get the best dose of UVB for better health. A sunbath of 10-20 minutes is all that is needed to get a healthy dose of vitamin D and you shouldn't burn in this time frame. I am sure though that Dr. Holick whose studies span the last 20 years, still has his skeptics within the medical community as to his findings or recommendations, but I am a believer. An interview with Dr. Holick I found to be very eye opening in my latest research.

Tip: For those of us who live in the northern states where sun is more scarce and those with darker skin, we will require vitamin D supplements. Winter time is when many of us can become vitamin D deficient. For those with darker skin, your time spent in the sun will need to be increased. And as far as overall sun exposure, it only requires these brief stints of sunshine 3-4 days per week to synthesize enough vitamin D in our bodies naturally. You don't have to expose the entire body either. Feet, arms, and legs are enough to grab that sunshine when you can! Make it fun and relaxing in the sun and not a chore...a 10 minute bike ride....plant some a book....make your grocery list.....sip a cold drink.....recline in the fresh air and decompress. Use the time to your advantage! Avoid the hands and face always and keep them protected. The skin is much thinner and more fragile in these areas and are where we predominantly will show our age.

This May Be The One!

Now for when we do need sunscreen for extended protection, I finally located a product through a comment left by one of my readers, called Dr. Mercola's Natural Sunscreen. It is formulated with both Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide, is paraben free and has a great natural ingredient list. No potentially harsh chemicals are found on this Ingredient label for Dr. Mercola Natural Sunscreen. Dr. Mercola also subscribes to similar thinking about the sun being healthy for us, our need for vitamin D, and our well being.

Which brings me to my Bull Frog SPF 50 purchase with titanium dioxide for those that read the Soothing Sunburn Pain After A Great Day. Although it was great for short notice protection after my annual burn, I found it to be very drying. I could literally feel the moisture being sucked out of my skin. This made my skin an ashy grayish blue color and caused my skin to flake and peel. It also did not go on easily at all. A lot of drag on my sensitive skin. Do not put this on your face...unless you love acne! Stick with your mineral makeup foundation! So I plan on purchasing some of Dr. Mercolas Natural Sunscreen for myself! If anyone else has tried this, let us know since future readers will be most grateful for the feedback.

Have a lovely weekend with Mr. Sunshine, and don't forget to soak up your dose of vitamin D.... safely!

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