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S U N S C R E E N - which one is best?

Let's talk all about sunscreen!

The most popular sunscreen question is... what is the best sunscreen to use?

Answer: The one that you enjoy and will actually use regularly. 😎

There is no ‘right’ answer to this question. Everyone has their own preference and skin type. Everyone will tolerate sunscreens differently. If you have acne, eczema, psoriasis or sensitive skin, talk to me at your next appointment so we can figure out which ingredients are best for your unique needs.

Sun protection is the #1 skincare tip I have for anyone with any skin concern at any age. Not only will sunscreen protect you from a known carcinogen (the sun!) but it will also help you maintain the integrity and youthfulness of your skin. Protection and prevention are key. Please note that sun protection does extend beyond just sunscreen (you can also use specific sun protective clothing) but for the sake of this post, we're going to talk all about sunscreen.

There are two main categories of sunscreens: chemical sunscreen vs. mineral/physical sunscreen.

Chemical Sunscreens:

The active ingredients in chemical sunscreens (ex. oxybenzone, avobenzone, dioxybenzone, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene, etc.) are absorbed in your skin and get activated when sunlight hits your skin. These ingredients take sunlight and convert it into heat. This heat is then released from the surface of your skin.

Benefits of chemical sunscreens:

They blend really well on the skin and don’t leave a white cast appearance. This boosts compliance with daily sunscreen usage!

Cons of chemical sunscreens:

The active ingredients ‘may’ be hormone disruptors. Lots of controversial opinions on this topic. I always say, if you are concerned about endocrine disruptors because you are pregnant, applying sunscreen to your kids or have hormone issues yourself, then go for the other category of sunscreen that we’ll discuss next. Another con is that not all chemical sunscreens offer great protection against UVA and UVB rays. One last big concern with chemical sunscreen use is their environmental impact - stay tuned!

Mineral Sunscreens:

The active ingredients in mineral sunscreens are zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

Benefits of mineral sunscreens:

The minerals sit on top of your skin and are likely not absorbed, so they are generally considered the safest option. They also offer the best protection against both UVA & UVB rays.

Con of mineral sunscreens:

Because the minerals sit on top of your skin and are not absorbed, they create a white cast appearance on application. People concerned with visual aesthetics of their skin don’t tend to enjoy using mineral sunscreens, which decreases sunscreen usage & compliance.

Environmental impacts of chemical sunscreen:

In 2018, Hawaii passed a bill to ban sunscreen products containing oxybenzone & octinoxate (two chemical sunscreen ingredients) due to the negative impact on marine ecosystems. When these ingredients are washed into the ocean, they block sunlight from hitting specific marine algae that live in a symbiotic relationship with coral reefs. This means that without photosynthesis, the algae that provide energy (derived from sun & nutrients) for the coral reefs to survive end up dying. This causes our beautiful coral reef ecosystems to undergo coral bleaching, which results in the loss of an entire ecosystem for marine life.

Oceanic plants provide us with over 50% of the air we breathe. The ocean stores over 50 times more carbon dioxide than our atmosphere. Countless medicinal products originated from the ocean and the biggest source of omega-3 comes from either algae or fish! We should all care about the health of our oceans, especially when we can make the conscious choice to purchase products that are safer options.

What does the word SPF mean?

SPF (sun protection factor) refers to the amount of time it takes for your skin to burn when using your sunscreen.

Ex. If it normally takes 10 minutes for your skin to burn, an SPF of 30 means it will take you 300 minutes to burn. 10X30=300.

What is better? SPF 30, SPF 50 or SPF 100?

Truth is, most people are not using enough sunscreen to actually get the SPF level listed on the bottle. Only when your sunscreen is used in the right AMOUNT, can we say that an SPF of 50 would be better than an SPF of 30. But if you’re only using a light dab of an SPF 50 this would NOT make it superior to lower SPF’s.

Ultraviolet light (UV) exposure is a known human carcinogen! Meaning, it can contribute to skin cancer. This is why protecting your skin from the sun is very relevant to your overall health! …and for the sake of avoiding the visible signs of aging skin (wrinkles, dark spots, enlarged pores, etc.) sun protection is crucial!

Why are iron oxides useful to look for in your sunscreen ingredient list?

First of all, they minimize the white cast 👻 appearance that mineral sunscreens tend to cause, since the iron oxides provide a tint of colour. But the main reason is that iron oxides allow for protection against BLUE LIGHT EXPOSURE.

Blue light I talk about all the time with patients when it comes to the negative effects it causes to our sleep. This light is emitted from phones, TV, computer, tablets and even light bulbs.

The blue wavelength of light has been shown to contribute to the visible signs of aging skin and hyperpigmentation. So yes, even if I wasn’t going outside, I do wear sunscreen. Although, I go outside every day of the year. 😉☀️

Do you have specific sunscreen or skincare questions? Talk to me at your next appointment. Let’s find a skincare plan that starts from the inside out with a focus on prevention!😊


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