Life is changing in recent weeks and warmer months are approaching. For many of us, getting out into the sunshine is truly a ray of light that we look forward to every day. Now that the weather is warming and we may be called to sit outdoors a little longer, a little more often, we must know how to protect our skin from harmful ultraviolet light. Here, we discuss how you can do that by choosing a sunscreen that meets your needs.
There are two common forms of sunscreen available today: mineral sunscreens and chemical sunscreens. Versions of both kinds of sunscreens have been reviewed by the Environmental Working Group which, each year, presents a list of products and their safety and efficacy ratings.
Mineral sunscreens create a literal barrier on the skin that prevents the absorption of ultraviolet rays. This barrier is created with zinc oxide, titanium oxide, or a mixture of the two. These are the only two ingredients that the FDA-has approved as being 100% safe for the skin as well as the environment. Zinc oxide is the ingredient often used in diaper rash ointments, so we know it is generally safe for sensitive skin. Zinc oxide also blocks both UVA and UVB rays, whereas titanium dioxide blocks only UVB rays.
Mineral sunscreens are immediately effective because they are a physical barrier. However, one of the challenges of this type of sunscreen is that application could be somewhat tricky. To protect all skin, application must be uniform. This means taking one’s time to apply their chosen product and also reapplying as directed on packaging labels. One of the aspects of mineral sunscreen that has been seen as a disadvantage in the past is its visibility. Older versions of mineral sunscreens were thick, white paste that was seen on the skin. Today, we can easily find tinted products that avoid the “white cast.”
Chemical sunscreens contain compounds that stimulate a chemical reaction as UV light gets absorbed in the skin. These products work by changing UV rays into heat, then releasing that heat from the skin. This very reaction should be considered when selecting the best sunscreen for you and your family. Heat in the skin could cause cellular damage that at some point results in visible symptoms such as dark spots or premature aging. It is also important to note that some of the key ingredients in chemical sunscreens, including oxybenzone and octinoxate have been deemed bad for humans and the environment.
What consumers like about chemical sunscreens is that they do not leave a “white cast” residue on the skin. For these products to work effectively, they also must be reapplied as directed on packaging labels.
The best sunscreens are ultimately those that have been formulated with care. We are proud to offer a wide variety of medical-grade options in our Draper and Layton offices. Check out our favorite sunscreens in the UFP Shop.