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Sun Protection Creams – What You Need to Know

While sun protection creams are a shield against the harsh realities of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, protecting us from skin cancer and premature aging, not all sunscreens are created equal. Discover why some SPF creams are a must for healthy skin, and how others might be silently contributing to health risks. Read on to uncover the dual-edged sword of sun protection.

The Importance of SPF Creams

SPF creams act as a barrier against the damaging effects of UV rays. Regular use helps prevent premature aging, such as wrinkles and age spots, and maintains skin health by protecting collagen and elastin—key to skin’s firmness and elasticity.

Understanding Sunscreen Ingredients

Sunscreen comes in two primary forms: chemical and physical (mineral). Chemical sunscreens absorb UV radiation, converting it to small amounts of heat and releasing it from the skin. Key ingredients include: Oxybenzone, Avobenzone, and Octinoxate.

On the other hand, physical (mineral) sunscreens reflect and scatter UV radiation, but include ingredients such as Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide. Both types offer broad-spectrum protection, with physical sunscreens used against UVA rays.

Health Concerns and Safe Usage

While SPF creams are vital for skin protection, certain chemical ingredients have raised health concerns. Ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate have been linked to potential hormone disruption and might penetrate the skin to enter the bloodstream. Physical barriers like zinc oxide are generally safer, particularly in the non-nano form, to minimize skin penetration. 

While SPF creams are crucial for protecting skin from UV radiation, there are health concerns associated with certain chemical ingredients found in some sunscreens. Ingredients such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, and homosalate have been scrutinized due to their potential hormonal disruptions. Research has indicated that these chemicals can absorb into the skin and into the bloodstream, where they might mimic hormones, potentially leading to reproductive issues and endocrine disruption. Furthermore, a 2019 study by the FDA revealed that the levels of certain sunscreen ingredients could exceed safety thresholds, raising concerns about their long-term use.

Another concern is the impact of sunscreens on vitamin D synthesis. Sunscreens block UVB rays, which are necessary for the body to produce vitamin D naturally. Overuse of sunscreen, combined with inadequate dietary intake of vitamin D, could lead to deficiencies, which are linked to bone problems and other health issues.

Guidelines for Effective Sun Protection Usage:

Apply Broadly

  • Coverage: It’s essential to apply sunscreen to all skin that will be exposed to sunlight, including often-missed spots like the tops of your feet, your neck, ears, and even the scalp if your hair is thinning. Don’t forget the lips; use a lip balm with SPF. Usually at least 30 mins before exposing to sun.
  • Amount: As a general rule, use about one ounce (roughly the amount needed to fill a shot glass) to cover the entire body. This ensures a sufficient layer to provide the protection indicated on the SPF label.

Reapply Regularly

  • Frequency: At minimum, every two hours, but if you are sweating heavily or swimming, reapply immediately after drying off—even if it’s been less than two hours. Remember, water-resistant doesn’t mean waterproof; protection decreases after immersion in water.
  • Conditions: Up to 80% of UV rays can pass through clouds on cloudy days, making reapplication just as important as on sunny days.

Use Adequate SPF

  • Selection: SPF 30 blocks about 97% of UVB rays, but if you are at a higher risk of skin cancer or have fair skin, consider SPF 50 or higher, which blocks about 98% of rays. Note that no sunscreen can block 100% of UV rays.
  • Broad-spectrum Protection: Make sure the sunscreen offers “broad-spectrum” protection, meaning it shields against both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and are primarily responsible for premature aging and contribute to skin cancer formation, while UVB rays cause sunburn.

Kungul’s Recommendation

At Kungul, we understand the importance of using SPF creams while being mindful of their potential risks. We recommend: Choosing Products Wisely: Opt for sunscreens with broad-spectrum protection and ingredients that suit your skin type. Mineral sunscreens are generally a safer choice, especially for children and those with sensitive skin. Reading Labels: Be aware of the ingredients in your sunscreen. Avoid products containing chemicals like Oxybenzone and Octinoxate, which are known for their potential health risks. Balanced Sun Exposure: Use sunscreens appropriately but also allow some direct sunlight exposure to maintain Vitamin D levels, supplemented by a diet rich in Vitamin D. By promoting the informed use of SPF creams and advocating for products that are safe and effective, Kungul aims to enhance public health and awareness, helping users make educated decisions about their skin health and environmental impact.

References:

Benefits of SPF Creams:

Chemical vs. Physical SPF Creams:

Risks Associated with SPF Creams:

Kungul’s Recommendations:

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