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New FDA Guidelines Make Choosing Sunscreen Easier

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Your skin is your body’s largest organ, but sometimes it’s the least protected. Those painful sunburns from long summer days at the beach are uncomfortable, wrinkle-causing, and dangerous, but attaining good sunscreen habits can also feel like a chore. Even a quick glance at the sunscreen section of the grocery store can be exhausting: Waterproof or “sport” sunscreen? How much SPF do I need? What is SPF, anyway?  Further, SPF has nothing to do with UVA protection.  SPF gives information about protection from UVB rays. However, UVA rays are just as bad if not worse.  UVA rays cause skin cancer and skin aging.

Luckily, the Food and Drug Administration recently revealed a new set of rules for sunscreen manufacturers to go into effect in 2012. The guidelines are intended mainly to protect sunscreen customers, banning the advertisement of “sunblock,” “waterproof” sunscreen, or sunscreen with SPF 50+. For the first time, the FDA will have an industry-wide test procedure to measure a product’s UVA protection relative to its UVB protection. Products that pass the FDA test may be labeled as Broad Spectrum and their SPF value indicates the amount of overall protection.The new regulations will also ban sunscreen manufacturers from advertising with the phrase “broad spectrum” unless the product protects against UVB and UVA rays. Furthermore, sunscreen bottles will clearly display how long the sunscreen works (either 40 or 80 minutes), encouraging users to re-apply often.

If you’re having trouble choosing a sunscreen that works for you, try following these guidelines:

  • Don’t pay extra for SPF above 50. The FDA has reported that SPF above 50 provides negligible benefits. Reapplying regularly is more important than a sky-high SPF.
  • SPF 30 will protect you from most harmful UV rays.
  • Broad-spectrum sunscreen is important to protect you against UVA and UVB rays, both of which are cancer-causing.
  • Regardless if your sunscreen is waterproof, water-resistant, or “sport” sunscreen, you need to reapply at least once every two hours, and more if you’re swimming or sweating profusely.

May is the perfect time to start spending more time in the sun—the weather is heating up, the school year is coming to a close, and vacation season has begun. However, as you begin to spend more of your day outdoors, remember that May is also Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s important to protect your skin.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, with over 2.4 million new diagnoses every year. Although basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are usually cured, melanoma is much more dangerous. The key to curing skin cancer is early detection, so be sure to schedule an annual skin cancer screening with your dermatologist.

You can also screen yourself monthly for skin cancer. The American Academy of Dermatology suggests using a mirror to examine every inch of skin and writing down a record of any moles, freckles, and age spots. Use the “ABCDEs of Melanoma”—Assymetry, Border irregularity, Color variation, Diameter (anything wider than a pencil eraser may be cancerous), and Evolving size, shape, or color. Recording your findings can allow you to track any new developments and helps your dermatologist find any abnormalities.

Summer may be heating up, but that doesn’t mean you should sacrifice the health of your skin.

Remember these Dos and Don’ts of skin cancer prevention:

 

Do:

Get checked for skin abnormalities by a dermatologist at least once a year, especially if you use tanning beds
Apply sunscreen whenever you’re in the sun, and re-apply every two hours and after swimming
Choose sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays
Stay in the shade whenever you can, especially from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Don’t:

Use indoor tanning beds, which increase the risk of melanoma dramatically.
Get sunburned, especially on May 27, Don’t Fry Day.
Stop using sunscreens once summer is over- the sun’s rays are still dangerous in winter and on cloudy days.

Image source: White93

There are about 3 million non-melanoma skin cancers, and 150,000 melanomas diagnosed each year around the world. There is overwhelming evidence that UV radiation is a major cause of precancers, skin cancers, and skin aging.

UV radiation consists of UVA, UVB and UVC. UVC does not penetrate the atmosphere, and thus doesn’t impact us.

What Is the Difference between UVA and UVB?

 

UVA
UVA penetrates the skin more deeply than UVB and is the dominant tanning radiation. Tanning, whether outdoors or in a salon, causes cumulative damage. Most of us are exposed to large amounts of UVA throughout our life, as UVA rays account for up to 95 percent of the ultraviolet radiation reaching Earth’s surface. UVA is less intense than UVB, but it is present with about equal intensity during all daylight hours throughout the year. UVA does penetrate clouds and glass.

UVB
UVB is the primary cause of skin reddening and sunburn. Because it tends to damage the skin’s more superficial epidermal layers, UVB plays a key role in the development of skin cancer and a contributory role in tanning and photo-aging. Its intensity varies by season, location, and time of day. The most significant amount of UVB hits the U.S. between 10 AM and 4 PM from April to October. However, UVB rays can burn and damage your skin year-round, especially at high altitudes and on reflective surfaces such as snow or ice. UVB rays do not significantly penetrate glass.

Studies consistently have shown significantly more pre-cancers, non-melanoma skin cancers and even melanomas on the left side of the face. Why is this? We are exposed to significant amounts of UVA rays when driving. While the amount of exposure might seem insignificant it really adds up over the years. Another theory is that the way people sunbathe may be involved. One researcher in Britain (where people drive on the right side of the car) suggested “If people sunbathing in the northern hemisphere tend to lie facing south in the morning, the left side of their body might be exposed and sunburned as the sun moves from east to west, making them more likely to cover up by afternoon,” they say.

We recommend daily application of a good quality sunscreen, protecting from both UVB and UVA. For information choosing a sunscreen see https://www.skin-vein.com/blog/how-to-choose-the-right-sunscreen and https://www.skin-vein.com/blog/sunscreen-101.

by Hadley, Skin Care Specialist at Zimmet Vein and Dermatology

Finally a non-comedogenic water-resistant physical sunscreen designed for acne and rosacea prone skin! This is my new favorite product. I admit I felt skeptical when my sample of MDSolarSciences Mineral Gel Sunscreen SPF +30 arrived. My chin is a major problem area and sunscreens always seem to irritate my skin and cause breakouts. Also, physical sunscreens are often thick and difficult to apply. Continue reading

by Hadley, Zimmet Vein & Dermatology Aesthetician

 

A good quality sunscreen is an absolute necessity for preventing sun damage, lowering risks of skin cancer, and maintaining optimal skin health. With so many choices on the market how can one even begin to make a good decision?  Here are some tips to better understand the mystery of skin and sunscreens.

1. Know the difference between ‘chemical’ and ‘physical’ sunscreens.

– Chemical sunscreens protect the skin by absorbing UV light

– A chemical reaction takes place when UV light is absorbed and heat is created

-This heat and the chemicals involved can cause redness and irritation in those with sensitive skin

-Chemical sunscreen products tend to be thin and easy to apply

-Physical sunscreens use titanium, zinc oxide, and iron oxides to block UV light from the skin

-The anti-inflammatory benefits make physical sunscreens the preferred choice for sensitive skin individuals.

-Physical sunscreens can be thick and must be warmed on the fingertips and applied to hydrated skin.

2.  Invest in a high quality broad-spectrum sunscreen for face, neck and chest.  Skincare companies such as Skinceuticals offer a range of suncreen choices for every skin type.  Their newest product, Sheer Physical UV Defense SPF 50, with transparent Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide, is lightweight, sheer, and dries to a matte finish.  It is ideal for oily skin individuals and those who hate the greasy feel of sunscreens.

3. Understand your skin type.  This is best done by consulting with an aesthetician, who should analyze your skin with a magnifying lamp. Choosing the right sunscreen can help balance the skin, reduce inflammation, fight aging and reduce the risk of skin cancers.

4. Recognize that breakouts and red irritated skin may be a skin disease or disorder such as acne or rosacea.  Certain sunscreens can aggravate these conditions so, if suffering from these symptoms, make an appointment with a dermatologist.

5. Understand that certain prescription and over-the-counter medications such as Retin-A, retinol and benzyl peroxide can increase sun sensitivity and overall sensitivity of the skin.  If you use these or other products that increase skin sensitivity be aware that ‘physical’ sunscreens, containing ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, may help reduce inflammation and soothe the skin while protecting from the sun.

6. Remember to use a sport sunscreen when swimming or being active outdoors.  Use waterproof rather than water-resistant formulas and reapply often.

7.  Make sure to purchase a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB light.


Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind

you.  ~Maori Proverb

But before you do, protect your skin with a broad spectrum sunscreen. Make sure you have protection against both types of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation, ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB). Unprotected exposure to both forms of UV radiation can lead to the development of skin cancer, accelerate photo-aging and the formation of cataracts. Also, both UVA and UVB suppress the immune system, which may explain the increased risk of skin cancer. Continue reading

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