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Sunscreen

Posted By: admin on July 9, 2011 in Beauty Care Tips, Personal care, Skin Care - Comments: Comments Off on Sunscreen

SunscreenIt started when tan became a fashion accessory. For years, we all roasted ourselves in the belief that a tan not only made us more desirable, it also ‘healthy’. Now, of course, we know that tans aren’t healthy and that unprotected exposure to the sun has a direct link with spiraling rate of skin cancer. More than 40,000 people all over the world are diagnosed as having skin cancer every year, a tenth of them suffering from the potentially fatal form, malignant melanoma. If we really wanted to be completely safe in the sun, we would keep out of it as much as possible, covering up with hats, long-sleeved T-shirts and sunglasses. Children should always be covered in the sun, as their skin is the most vulnerable.

But it seems we really can’t kick the sunbathing habit. 57 percent of people in Britain admit that the risk of cancer doesn’t stop them sunbathing. Not nearly enough protection for fair skin unused to strong sunlight. And, worst of all, a study that 40 percent of parent admit to having allowed their under-15s to burn at some time.

So is there a way to tan safely? For all but the very fair skinned, you can tan without burning provided that you take it painstakingly slowly, in short, sensible bursts, using the right sunscreen for your skin. But most of us don’t take it slowly or use the right sunscreen. And some experts feel we’ve a lot more to learn about the effects of overexposure to the sun on our bodies and, even with assiduous use of a good sunscreen, we still might be causing sun damage at a deeper level.

However, according to experts once you have a slight tan you do gain a bit of insurance against burning: a tanned person is two to ten times better protected against the sun’s harmful rays than someone with no tan, because UV rays stimulate the production of melanin, which gives skin a protective brown color and thickens it.

What is a sunscreen?

Sunscreen contains chemicals that either reflect the sun’s harmful rays off the skin or absorb them. All protect against UVB, the band of electromagnetic radiation that causes redness, burning and, after pronged exposure, blistering and even second-degree burns. Many products now also screen out UVA. Previously considered harmless, these are the longest rays, which penetrate deep into the skin; they do not burn it but are responsible for reducing its elasticity. Unlike UVB rays, which are at their most intense at midday in the height of summer, UVA rays are constant all year round.

In order to protect your skin the way it has to, all reputable brands are now a complex cocktail of chemicals: standard sunscreen contain UVA/B filters and reflectors, oil, water, emulsifiers to prevent them from separating, emollients to make them feel smooth on the skin, film formers to help them form a protective layer on the skin, stabilizers to stop them deteriorating, preservatives to prevent the growth of bacteria, and fragrance. Whether it’s a lotion, cream, oil or stick, a sunscreen will be a ‘chemical’ or a ‘physical’ formula.

Chemical sunscreens absorb specific bands of UV rays. Most are known as ‘Broad spectrum’ as they contain a blend of chemicals, one to absorb UVB, and the other to reflect UVA rays.

Physical sunscreens merely contain one ingredient that forms a physical barrier on the skin to reflect both UVB and A rays.

Physical sunscreens are more effective than chemical because they literally block out ultraviolet, with the added bonus that they’re unlikely to react with your skin. Chemical formulas have the advantage that they’re absorbed into the skin and so less likely to rub off, but the disadvantage is that they’re more likely to irritate your skin and you may not like the thought of something so chemical being absorbed.

If you can find a suitable sunscreen that contains vitamin E, this vitamin is both an excellent moisturizer and antioxidant. This means it attacks ‘free radicals’, a group of reactive chemical particles that are set in motion by the sun. It rays trigger them into hijacking oxygen molecules from other compound in the skin, which damage the skin’s cellular structure and gradually lead to ageing and, research shows, cancer.

Don’t be fooled by sunscreen that say or imply that they are ‘natural’: all it means is that they’re physical formulas rather than chemical, or they contain plant, fruit or vegetable extracts, individual ingredients have a good track record, however aloe Vera, for example, for soothing and repairing damaged skin, and ginkgo for good anti free radical properties like vitamin E.

There is less evidence to suggest that marine extracts and fruits offer more than a pleasant base for the chemical active ingredients. But at least you know plant or fruit-based products to gain their SPF rating they must have been tested by one of the two official test systems.

If you have delicate skin, you could try a product designed specifically for sensitive skin. These are free of irritants like preservatives emulsifiers and colorants, but they could still contain fragrance and a high level of UVA filter which can trigger allergies, so read labels carefully. Those labeled ‘hypoallergenic’ have been developed to minimize the risk of allergic reactions, and those called ‘dermatologically tested’ have been repeatedly tested to ensure they cause no allergic reaction or skin irritation under normal circumstances.