Research shows 90 percent of wrinkles are caused by
the sun's longer wave ultraviolet [UVA] light and sun
damage is the #1 cause of premature aging in women and
Even low-level exposures to UVA light break down collagen,
which causes wrinkles. In addition, UVA reaches deep
layers of the skin causing melanomas.
UVB radiation affects our topmost layer of skin, forming
melanin. UVA radiation penetrates deeper down into the
connective tissue of the skin, causing the skin to age
The effect of the sun's rays depends on where we are,
how strong the radiation is, and what type of skin we
have. People of Celtic origin have more delicate skin
types and an increased risk of sunburn. This is particularly
important in countries near the poles, such as England
and New Zealand, where there is less ozone protection.
The number of cases of skin cancer has doubled in
the last 20 years, and health campaigns are advocating
slip, slop slap. Slip on a shirt, slop on some sunblock
and slap on a hat.
But if you are exposed to the sun longer than is desired
for health purposes you need to understand the different
characteristics of sunblocks and sunscreens. Sunblocks
and sunscreen advertising can be extremely misleading,
so get to know the ingredients, and how each works.
Hair Protection - products designed
to protect the hair
Topical Sun Protection Products
Different sun protection products work in different
ways. They have either a chemical or a physical filter;
some have a mixture of the two.
A chemical sun filter - acts by penetrating
the skin and absorbing the sun's rays so that they do
not reach down into the lower layers of skin to cause
damage. Some chemical filters only provide protection
against the UVB radiation, while others protect against
both UVB and UVA radiation. These are known as sunscreens.
A physical filter – stays on
the skin surface as a thin membrane to reflect the sun's
rays. For example, zinc oxide is a physical filter.
Physical sun filters protect against both the UVB and
UVA rays. These are known as sun blocks.
Sunblocks vs Sunscreens
Most people use the terms sunblock and sunscreen interchangeably.
As you can see from above, they are NOT the same. No
product blocks all of the sun's rays. Even clothing
lets some of the sun's rays reach your body. For example,
a regular cotton T-shirt is comparable to only a SPF
Sunblocks block both UVA rays and UVB rays. There
are different ways to block the sun, using different
ingredients. Many products labeled as being sunblocks
are actually only sunscreens, so you need to know the
effective sunblock ingredients and look for them on
the product pack. Active sunblock ingredients include:
Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide
- sunblocks with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide work
well, but are messy and previously opaque, thus visible.
These types of sunblocks are now available micronised,
so are invisible.
Avobenzone and Benzophenone - both
[Parsol 1789] and benzophenone are good UVA blockers
especially when formulated in conjunction with Helioplex.
NOTE: Current legal battles are ongoing against companies
claiming products as sunblocks, based on the fact that
no product can completely block all the suns UV rays.
Sunscreens are products that are commonly labelled
Broad Spectrum UV Protection. Broad spectrum means it
is effective in blocking both UVB and UVA radiation.
Many sunscreens claiming to be broad spectrum are not,
and do not block rays from the full UVA spectrum. Only
sun protection with avobenzone, titanium dioxide, or
zinc oxide as ingredients block UVA rays. Sunscreens
with these ingredients are known as Combination Sunscreen
and Sunblock. Typical examples include:
SPF of at least 15 to 30. [Many experts believe
anything above SPF30 doesn’t provide any real
water resistant – this protects against sweating
as well as water.
hypoallergenic and fragrance free, especially for
those with sensitive skin.
in a form that is easy to use for the environment
you are in. For example, if you are out playing golf
or tennis you don’t want greasy hands so look
for sunblock sticks.
Water-Proof & Water-Repellant Sun Protection
Another confusing characteristic of sunscreens and
sunblocks is the difference between those which claim
to be water-repellant or water-proof.
A water-repellant sunblock gives protection
against two 20 minutes swims before being washed off.
This only applies if you let yourself air-dry and do
not dry yourself with a towel.
A water-proof sunblock cream withstands
four 20 minutes swims without being washed off.
For best protection, it is recommended that you apply
more cream after swimming.
In 2002, the FDA mandated that manufacturers change
their labels from waterproof to "water resistant"
or "very water resistant," since no product
can be completely waterproof. Not all manufacturers
have made this change.
Which Product Type To Use
For optimum protection, a sunblock with both UVB and
UVA protection is best; whilst for those with allergic
tendencies, the ingredients found in a typical physical
filter are less irritating.
Sun protection products help reduce exposure to UV
rays, but are not totally effective in preventing skin
cancer. This is because it wears off and needs to be
reapplied. If it is not applied often enough, a false
sense of security leads to even more time in the sun.
The more damaging UVA radiation is less likely to
cause noticeable sunburn symptoms. So it is best to
use products that protect from both UVB and UVA rays.
and benzophenone are good UVA blockers. For maximum
benefits, sunscreen must be applied evenly to cool,
dry skin 30 minutes before sun exposure. Waterproof
and water-resistant sunscreens are best since effectiveness
is not reduced by perspiration.
Sunblock using titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, is less
irritating than avobenzone.
Sun Protection Products For The Face
Sun protection are for the face include:
Facial cosmetic products containing sun protection,
whatever the SPF are not as effective as standa alone
sun protection products. This is because they are not
applied as thoroughly to the skin as a sunscreen would
be. Also make-up or moisturizers may be only be spot-applied.
To protect yourself on a daily basis, use a separate
facial sun protection product at least 15 SPF on your
face and neck every day, regardless of the weather.
Using a moisturiser or foundation cream with SPF15 is
a good option. If you intend to be outside for periods
longer than 15 minutes at a time, then you need to supplement
this with an SPF30 - 45 product.
NOTE: there are several sunscreens, which are very
good moisturizing bases, and ideal for those with drier
skin. For instance: Cellex-C Sun Care SPF 30+ and M.D.
Forte Aftercare Environmental Protection Cream SPF 30.
Special Sun Protection Needs
Those with sun induced skin problems such as lupus,
rosacea, transplant patients, post radiation patients,
skin cancer patients, chemotherapy patients, or those
status post laser skin resurfacing may also experience
sensitivities to other forms of light. In this case
a Total Block Clear SPF 65 containing 8 micronized physical
blocker ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc
oxide as well as visible light blocker iron oxide, is
Avobenzone - also known as Parsol
1789 is one of the best UVA absorbers but breaks
down with exposure to sunlight after only one hour.
Oxybenzone - very good UVB absorber
with some UVA absorbency.
Helioplex - Helioplex
makes a commonly used chemical agent work more effectively.
Helioplex stops Avobenzone from degrading and boost
its UV protection ability providing high potency protection
even after four to five hours of direct sun exposure.
Mexoryl [Anthelios SX] - Anthelios
SX, made by L’Oreal, protects against both
UVA and UVB rays with an SPF of 15. Anthelios SX contains
a mix of three active ingredients: Ecamsule [marketed
in Europe and Canada as Mexoryl SX since 1993], Avobenzone
and Octocrylene. More
on Anthelios SX