Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sunscreen and Sun Safety

It is that time! Warm weather has arrived, and I know that all of you are looking at your white legs and your summer shorts and skirts and thinking that you need color! This is the time of year when I am relentlessly hounding my children with a tube in my hand, with those famous words…."You’ll thank me when you’re thirty!!!" They won’t.

All this to say, wear sunscreen. Twenty minutes is the maximum outside without it.

Wear sunglasses. I have too many friends developing macular degeneration and having to have shots in the eyeball to preserve vision.

As for sunscreen types, I have strong opinions. Surprised? Hah! The skin is the largest organ of your body. Therefore, what you put on it matters. There are chemical sunscreens and there are physical sunscreens. I prefer physical sunscreens because these do not introduce a chemical into your body and I really do believe that the fewer chemicals introduced into our systems, the better. Doesn’t this simply make sense? The physical sunscreens are inert minerals that stay on the surface of the skin and actually form a physical barrier to UV radiation. The two minerals used are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. And yes, that was the icky white paste that lifeguards once spread on their noses to prevent sunburn. It works! Now there are different forms of these minerals that are more cosmetically appealing. Look for the micronized form of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. I DO NOT want you to use the nano-particles of these minerals. This form is too small and could potentially be absorbed in the body. The jury is still out on this formulation. Cosmetically, it is transparent on the skin, which is great, but I have concerns about absorption into the body. The micronized version will look a little white on your skin, but we are talking about preventing cancer and reducing chemicals in the body, so give a little, okay?

These sunscreens are more expensive than the familiar brand name sunscreens, but are a healthier choice. Reading the label is essential. Do not be mislead by the marketing label that says "Mineral Sunscreen" when the label on the back reads "zinc oxide 1%, oxybenzone 9%, etc." This is not what you want. Also, the SPF is not as important as re-applying. Sweating and swimming remove sunscreen, so re-apply regularly. As for brand recommendations, Costco carries The Honest Company brand of sunscreen with zinc oxide as the primary ingredient. It is PABA and dye free, and I use it at home. Blue Lizard is a good brand that most drug stores carry. This web address is a link to the Environmental Working Group and contains both a link to specific sunscreen products and more information on sun safety. I know that a thicker sunscreen is more of a pain to use, but this is important. Introducing fewer chemicals into your body is important. Stay safe!

Healthy summer living with John Hollis Pharmacy!

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