The best skin protection
under the sun
Citation: Better Nutrition for Today's
Living, July 1994
v56 n7 p56(4)
Subjects: Skin Protection
Sunscreens (Cosmetics) Usage
Reference #: A15549752
Full Text COPYRIGHT
Communication Channels Inc. 1994
Many of us agree with
John Di Giovanni, M.D., who said that, "A healthy tan is an oxymoron."
We've all seen the tanaholics—bronzed and aging fast. And we've read the
melanoma statistics indicating that this form of skin cancer is one of
the most prevalent in the United States.
In four decades, for the
most part, we've gone from exalting to demonizing the sun. We've finally
come to recognize that the primary cause of wrinkling and over-all skin
deterioration is sun damage. Some experts believe that 90 percent of all
wrinkles are caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Until the 1930s, when
Coco Chanel sported the first intentional tan, ladies protected their
valuable complexions with parasols and bonnets. Now, having discovered a
keen awareness of the damage that can result from UV radiation, we have
come full circle and are again protecting against the searing rays with
sunscreens and sunblocks. So, totally unnecessary wrinkles can be
prevented. Sunscreens have been heralded as the only "true antiaging
product in the marketplace." When used, a sunscreen not only blocks the
rays of the sun, but also allows your skin's healing processes to swing
into high gear, reversing much of the damage, provided it hasn't
progressed into precancerous or cancerous lesions.
Newer sunscreens include
free-radical fighters and healers, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin
E and zinc, as well as synthetic melanin, an oxidant that protects
against both UVA (long wave, deep, penetrating, cumulative damage) and
UVB (causing most sunburns) radiation. Tests are being done on a vitamin
C sun preparation that doesn't block the rays, but instead works to
prevent cross linking of cells, thereby helping your skin avoid UV
Some cold-pressed oils,
especially those that are high in the free radical-fighting vitamins A,
C and E, are mild sunscreens. Rose hips oil is especially high in
vitamin C. Avocado and wheat germ oils are rich in vitamin E. Vitamin A
is available in cod liver oil. Vitamin C combined with ascorbyl
palmitate and oil-based vitamin E are found in natural formulas.
The basis for choosing a
sun shield is Sun Protection Factor (SPF). Always choose an SPF of at
least 15, which means that if you begin to turn red in five minutes
without a sunscreeen and you apply an SPF 15, then 5 x 15 = 75 minutes
is allowed before the same degree of burn is sustained. You can still
burn while wearing a sunscreen, it just takes a little longer. When
choosing a sun preparation, make sure it lists SPF or the word
"sunscreen" or "sunblock" on the label or you might be getting a tanning
lotion without protection. Also, make sure protection is for both UVA
and UVB radiation. Finding a sunscreen that is compatible with your skin
can be a trial and error endeavor. Many of us have sensitivities to the
ingredients in some sunscreens.
For example, if you have
problems with PABA, the vitamin B cousin, other ingredients are also
efficient sunscreens. As a matter of fact, PABA is a good ingredient for
many people to avoid, since preliminary studies have shown it to be
allergenic in susceptible people.
Depending on your skin
type, choose a natural oil-based sunscreen, which lasts longer but may
clog pores, or choose an alcohol base, which has a drying action. For
oil-based sunscreens, look for formulas containing natural oils.
Oil-based formulas may cost more, but are well worth the investment.
If you have sensitive
skin, be especially careful, since some sunscreens are weak allergens.
If you can't find a brand that doesn't cause itching or burning with an
SPF 15, then try a lower SPF and wear a hat or protective clothing in
addition. Or try an opaque foundation that includes a natural sunscreen.
Apply a sunscreen at least 30 minutes before being exposed to the sun's
rays. It takes that long for the ingredients in the sunscreen to
penetrate the epidermis. Apply a generous amount at first and reapply at
regular intervals. If your sunscreen has an alcohol base, reapply after
you come out of the water. Sunscreen is needed year-around, since UVs
from the sun penetrate haze and clouds, bounce off of water, snow and
sand, penetrate three feet below the surface of water and even through
glass while driving your car. When applying sunscreens, always include
the tops of ears, hands and feet, lips and bald spots on men. For lips,
apply a sunscreen especially made for this area.
"I don't object to
moderate protected sunning; indeed, a certain amount of sunshine helps
vitamin D production and can alleviate depression," said Robert M.
Giller, M.D., in Natural Prescriptions. "But the baking and basting of
the old days is just asking for trouble, and not only in terms of
wrinkling but also the dramatic increase in skin cancer statistics is
truly alarming. So, get some sun but never without a sunscreen." He
added that if you find that after using a sunscreen you break out in a
rash or suffer a sunburn, you might be allergic to a common sunscreen
ingredient—PABA, para-aminobenzoic acid. So try another formula with
different active ingredients; before using it in the sun, test it on
your wrist or arm for a few days to see if you have any reaction.
"While (using) sunscreens
on the beach is essential, it's a mistake to save them for (only)
special occasions; daily use is advisable, especially if you spend any
amount of time outdoors," Giller added. "Many of my patients tell me
that a sunscreen is the first thing they put on their face in the
morning after showering. One woman with beautiful skin told me that she
has been using a sunscreen on her face and hands every morning for
nearly 10 years. Fortunately, many makeup are now being formulated with
sunscreens included. If you're relying on them, just be sure their SPF
is 15 or above." Also, if you are going to be spending some time in the
sun, fluids and potassium need to be replenished. Free-form amino acids,
free radical fighters, such as vitamins A, C and E, and the mineral zinc
and bioflavonoids are all needed for tissue repair, healing and
reduction of scar tissue.
What about your hair? It
needs sun protection, too. If you're heading for the pool or the beach
you can let the sun work for you. Wash your hair with a mild,
all-natural, cruelty-free shampoo, then comb a conditioner with a
sunscreen through your hair. Secure your hair as gently as possible with
pins or combs, avoiding putting tension on the strands. When you get
home, simply shampoo the conditioner out with luke warm water, being
sure to remove it completely. The warmth of the sun will have given you
a free heat-activated, deep conditioning treatment.
Busch, Julia. Treat Your
Face Like a Salad. Coral Gables, Fla.: Anti-Aging Press, Inc., 1993.
Elson, Mervin L., M.D.,
and Hartley, John, M.D. The Good Look Book. Atlanta: Longstreet Press,
Everyday Health Tips.
Emmaus, Pa.: Rodale Press, 1988. Giller, Robert M., M.D., and Matthews,
Kathy. Natural Prescriptions. New York: Carol Southern Books, 1994.
FOR WRINKLE PREVENTION
Drink six to eight
8-oz glasses of water daily.
Always use a
sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, not just when you're at the
beach. Apply each day before you leave the house and reapply it at
midday, if possible.
Stop smoking. If you
smoke a pack and a half a day you'll wrinkle about 10 years sooner
than a nonsmoker. Pursing your lips to inhale and exhale encourages
vertical lines to form around your mouth. Smoke dries the face,
especially the skin around the delicate eye area, and encourages
wrinkles to form.
Moisturize your skin
In addition to your
daily supplements, add 1,000 mg/day of vitamin C and 10,000 IU/day
of beta carotene.
Robert M., M.D., and Matthews, Kathy. Natural Prescriptions. New York:
Carol Southern Books, 1994.