Doctors advise applying sunscreen daily, and not only that, you usually need to apply a lot of it to achieve the amount of sun protection stated on the sunscreen label. There are so many sunscreens available – sunscreens for the face, the body, for children, and there are sunscreens found in moisturizers and makeup. Just to add to the conundrum, there are also physical, as well as chemical sunscreens.
Physical sunscreens are the sunscreens which sit superficially on top of skin and physically block out harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Because these sunscreens usually contain zinc oxide, they tend to give skin a white cast that can be unflattering. They also tend to be thicker in texture, or oily.
Chemical sunscreens fare better cosmetically. They are usually lightweight and many have an almost invisible finish, and are far more compatible in this respect with makeup.
ARE CHEMICAL SUNSCREENS SAFE?
Chemical ingredients such as oxybenzone and avobenzone in chemical sunscreens protect the skin from UV rays, but there have been concerns that these chemicals, being absorbed into the skin, can lead to a variety of health problems, including skin irritation, hormonal disruptions and skin cancer. There are even suggestions that there are risks to developing fetuses when pregnant women apply sunscreens. The American Academy of Padiatrics advises parents not to use products with oxybenzone on their kids.
While sunscreens are vital for protecting against hyperpigmentation, chemical sunscreens have been thought to worsen heat-sensitive pigmentation issues such as melasma, because chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays into the skin and break them down into non-damaging heat or light.
SO WHAT SHOULD YOU USE?
Firstly, you should still use sunscreen daily, and reapply it every few hours if you are out in the sun deliberately. Ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (sometimes referred to as ‘mineral’ or ‘natural’ sunscreens) are safer. They sit on the skin without being absorbed. However, as with all sunscreens, the efficacy also depends on the application. Sunscreens get wiped off all the time without people knowing.
Experts say, the trick may be to layer your SPF products, and to also try products such as Heliocare Pure Radiance with proprietary Fernblock, an all-natural antioxidant extract that prevents DNA damage. This can help with limitations of topically applied sunscreens. If thick, white sunscreens put you off, try Snow White, a spray-on physical sunscreen containing zinc oxide (You should spray it into your palm and then apply it on your face).
If you are worried about chemical sunscreens, just remember that you have options, you only need to look!