Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Let’s Debunk Some Sunscreen Myths July 11, 2011

Prevention Magazine published a great article, SPF Excuses Even Smart Women Make, debunking lots of common excuses on why some people refuse to use sunscreen.  After presenting each excuse the magazine very clearly and precisely refutes it.  For example –

The Excuse: “The chemicals in sunscreen are probably more dangerous than sun exposure”

Reality Check: Sunscreens have gotten some bad press lately, including claims that they contain cancer-causing ingredients. But a recently published review of the studies on which these claims are based should ease fears. “Many of the safety concerns are not well founded—they’re based on petri dish or animal data that doesn’t relate to humans,” says Steven Wang, MD, director of dermatologic surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Basking Ridge, NJ, and coauthor of the review. For example, in one study, mice fed a whopping dose of oxybenzone, a UV-light absorber commonly found in sunscreens, exhibited estrogenic effects, which the researchers believe could cause cancer cells to grow more rapidly. But by Dr. Wang’s calculations, it would take more than 250 years for someone who uses sunscreen daily to be exposed to the amount of oxybenzone used in the study.

Still worried? Use a sunscreen like Beyond Coastal Natural SPF 30 Sunscreen ($16; beyondcoastal.com), which has zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in lieu of chemical sunscreens.

OR for instance –

The Excuse: “I don’t get a lot of sun”

Reality Check: You don’t have to be on the beach to soak up rays. Most people rack up 14 hours of casual UV exposure per week. And in one study, short spurts of UVA light twice a week resulted in significant damage to the fibers that keep skin smooth and firm in just 12 weeks. Skin care products like makeup and a daily lotion with SPF are great steps, but “the protection is short-lived on hot, sunny days,” says NYC dermatologist Arielle Kauvar, MD. Use a sweat-resistant sunscreen with at least SPF 30 on all sun-exposed areas to be safe. Supergoop! Save Face Sunscreen Serum SPF 30 ($32; supergoop.com) is decidedly ungoopy, meets our experts’ guidelines, and works great under makeup. Another option: Neutrogena Pure & Free Liquid SPF 50 ($13; drugstores).

The other excuses include:

If any of the excuses above sound like something you have thought then click on the excuse in order to see why it just isn’t true.

And lastly I want to offer some proof why the anti-sunscreen excuse – I don’t wear sunscreen so I can get my needed Vitamin D – is silly.  The July issue of Allure offers some illuminating (pun intended) statistics on that point:

200: Number of international units of vitamin D the United States government recommends getting per day.

10,000: Number of IUs of vitamin D the average fair-skinned person absorbs after ten minutes in the midday summer sun wearing shorts and a tank top.

I hope that people realize that they can get all the Vitamin D they need from supplements or from a very, very short time in the sun without sunscreen.  For more information about Vitamin D and the sun please see my previous post – Vitamin D and Sun Protection – which contains links to lots of articles about Vitamin D and sunscreen.

Lastly, I would like to point out that there are so many sunscreens on the market today that there really is a sunscreen out their for everyone no matter if you breakout or not or if your skin is sensitive or not.  (I was slightly horrified to read recently that Liv Tyler doesn’t use sunscreen on a daily basis because she feels that it clogs her pores.  At least, at the moment, she has superior genetics on her side so she still is very beautiful.  I wonder how she will look when all that sun damage catches up with her.)  If you want a really light but effectively sunscreen be sure to check out La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios 45 Ultra-Light Fluid for Face or one of their other sunscreens.  I can’t imagine someone complaining about how this sunscreen feels on their face.

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2 Responses to “Let’s Debunk Some Sunscreen Myths”

  1. Io Says:

    Allure has severely misstated the actual recommended amount, which ranges from 400 IU (for infants) to 800 IU (http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-QuickFacts/). I wouldn’t trust them on anything other than mascara applying tips.

    I can’t understand why anyone would use this argument anyway. Stay out of the sun and be careful about sunscreen, get your vitamin D level checked and incorporate vitamin D supplements if needed. Why would anyone risk cancer for something that can be safely obtained from supplements?

    • Thanks for the correction.
      I agree – I’ve never liked the argument that one needs to go without sunscreen because they need their Vitamin D. My daily multi-vitamin provides me with more than enough Vitamin D – safely and without the risk of skin cancer, but I included this excuse because, unfortunately, I have heard it often.


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