10 of Your Safety Questions About Sunscreen, Now Answered

 In Health & Wellness, Summer Tips, Waxy's Original

Answering your Burning Sunscreen Questions

Everyone has heard about the link between sun exposure and skin cancer, and the need to cover up and use sunscreen. Since most consumers are just baffled by all the options available, we thought we would give you some insight to help you make an informed decision!

A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology found that less than half of nearly 300 dermatology patients knew when to apply sunscreen, before going outside (15 to 30 minutes); how often to reapply it (every 2 hours, or after sweating or swimming); and how much is needed to cover the entire body (about a 30ml).

This lack of knowledge is especially worrisome since sunscreen is one of the best defences against sunburn, a major risk factor for skin cancer, the most common type of cancer worldwide and especially here in sunny South Africa. Considering how often people get sunburnt each year, knowing how to properly apply sunscreen is more important than ever.

1. How Does Sunscreen Work?

Sunscreens are formulated with ingredients that shield your skin from harmful ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation, which can cause skin changes that contribute to skin cancer and ageing. The ingredients in Sunscreen does this by reflecting (natural) or absorbing (chemical) those rays.

SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, are a measure of how well a sunscreen shields against UVB rays, the main contributor to sunburn. Some sunscreens shield against just UVB rays, and some protect against both UVA and UVB. Called “broad spectrum” sunscreens, those that shield against both types of UV rays, offer the best sun protection.

Our Waxy’s Original Brand uses Zinc Oxide, content percentages (15%, 35% and 50%) to shield your skin more effectively from the sun. The Zinc Oxide particles reflect the harmful rays of the sun back out and away from your skin. We also use Nanoparticles to act as a further UVA & UVB shield. Chemically produced sunscreens absorb the UVA/UVB rays, which means some of the rays might still penetrate into your skin.

2. Is a Higher SPF (Like 50) Always Better?

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) says the best sunscreen provides broad-spectrum protection, is water-resistant, and has an SPF of at least 30.

Higher SPFs doesn’t necessarily provide all that much more added protection. Going from an SPF 15 (which screens out 93 per cent of UVB rays) to a 30 (which screens out 97 per cent), does make sense though. What tends to happen is that users confuse the higher-rated SPF with how long the sunscreen lasts on your skin. A higher SPF or Zinc Oxide content needs to be reapplied at the same intervals as you would for a lower option sunscreen. This in turn creates a disconnect with how effective the higher percentage of products are since they get incorrectly applied and cannot shield you the way they should.

Sunscreen should, as a rule, be reapplied every two hours, and more frequently if you are doing water activities. Still, some experts believe that using higher SPFs may be worthwhile. That’s because most people don’t apply the correct amount of sunscreen (approximately 30ml to cover your entire body), often enough. Studies suggest that putting on only half the recommended amount, roughly 15ml, could decrease a sunscreen’s SPF by about one-third to one-half. So a higher SPF would offer more protection when people don’t use enough sunscreen.

3. Do I Need to Wear Sunscreen if I Have Darker Skin?

Yes. It’s true that people with fair skin are at greater risk of skin cancer than those with darker skin. UV rays can damage any type of skin, so it’s important to wear sunscreen, no matter what your skin colour or ethnicity.

For more in-depth info regarding this particular topic, read our another blog post “I’ve got Dark Skin, I don’t Need Sun Screen” and Other Dark Skinned Myths!

4. What’s the Best Sunscreen for Babies?

A baby’s skin is particularly sensitive to sunburn in the first 6 months of their lives, so they should be kept out of direct sunlight as much as possible. Experts recommend keeping young infants in the shade or under an umbrella. Use hats and cover them up with clothing, rash guards, and sunglasses, and always include sunscreen.

For babies and kids, you might think that a sunscreen specifically labelled for them has stronger sun-shielding properties than those marketed to adults. While their packaging and scent might be a little different, their effectiveness is exactly the same, and a child can use an adult sunscreen and vice versa.

Dermatologists often recommend physical (i.e., mineral) sunscreens such as titanium and zinc oxide formulas for children and people with sensitive skin. Babee Bee Sunscreen has 50% zinc oxide content and also contains no chemicals which could potentially irritate the baby’s delicate skin.

5. Is Sunblock Different From Sunscreen?

Sunblock and sunscreen are in essence the same product, just worded differently. Make sure that you read the label on whichever product you choose. Our Waxy’s Original Sunscreen, Sun Cream, Sun Stick, and Face Block products use Zinc Oxide to block out the sun, while the Waxy’s Face Balm uses carrot seed oil as a natural SPF.

It is important to understand how these products work and to always follow the application instructions correctly to get the best results. Please always remember, no product can completely “block” the sun!

6. Can You Use Moisturiser with SPF Instead of Sunscreen?

You can, although it’s not the best way to go. The amount of protection you get depends on a couple of factors. Many daily moisturisers with sunscreen contain only an SPF 15, and may not be broad-spectrum (always check the label).

How you apply your moisturiser also influences the efficacy of the product. The general rule of thumb is that you need about 1 teaspoon of sunscreen to cover your entire face. A dab of moisturiser probably won’t cut it. Our recommendation is to apply up to 3 times a day, and then wait 30 minutes before exposure to the sun to get the product’s full effect.

The same goes for make-up. A dusting here and there with a powder containing an SPF isn’t going to cover and protect your face evenly. Applying enough to be effective would mean you’d have to cake it on, likely the opposite effect you’re going for. Additionally, as with all sunscreen, you need to reapply it at least every 2 hours. For many people, applying moisturiser or make-up is a once-a-day affair.

The bottom line here is to not rely solely on a moisturiser or make-up (like foundation) as your only sun defence system, but rather use it in conjunction with a hat or umbrella for some protection. It helps, and is definitely better than nothing, but shouldn’t be your only strategy when dealing with the sun!

7. Is sun screen bad for the environment?

Research in the past few decades has found that sunscreens containing certain chemical ingredients, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, contributing to coral bleaching, a condition that leaves coral vulnerable to infection and prevents it from getting the nutrients it needs to survive. Even if you’re not at the beach, the sunscreen on your body might still end up in the ocean. Sunscreen is able to get into the water system after you wash it off in the shower.

How best then to protect your skin, and the environment?
Mineral sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide appear to be safer for coral reefs than chemical ones. This fact we love since one of our mottos are Beauty Without Cruelty. Our sun care products use natural ingredients and a mineral base, namely Zinc Oxide, which in turn cares not only for your skin but also the ocean!

Another option is to cover up with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) clothing. You’ll still want to apply sunscreen to exposed skin, but you’ll need far less – up to half the amount.

8. What’s Better—a Spray or Lotion?

Both are equally effective. Where it gets tricky is in how they’re applied. To cover your entire bathing-suit-clad body, you need about 30ml (or a shot-glass-full) of sunscreen. This is easy to measure with a lotion, but more complicated with a spray.

For sprays, the best way to ensure you’re getting enough is to spray it liberally on your skin, then rub it in evenly with your hands. Avoid applying where it’s windy because you might lose some of your sunscreen to the air.

There has been some concern about the safety of sprays, especially the aerosol versions. In the USA, the FDA has said it is exploring the risks of inhaling spray sunscreens. Until we know more, their Consumer Reports’ experts say to avoid using sprays on children, and don’t spray directly on your face. Instead, spray sunscreen onto your hands, then apply it to your face. If you do use a spray on a child, spray the sunscreen into your hands and rub it onto the child’s skin.

Sprays may also contain flammable ingredients, such as alcohol, so you should never apply them near an open flame, according to the FDA.

9. Does Sun Screen Expire?

Yes, eventually. Our sunscreen products are made from natural ingredients and they don’t contain any chemical preservatives, which might influence its consistency and longevity, but certainly not its efficacy. It only expires 2 years after the manufacturing date.

If you find an old bottle at the bottom of last summer’s beach tote and can’t remember when you bought it, check the expiration date. If there isn’t one, play it safe and buy a new bottle. In the future scribble the purchase date on the new container with a permanent marker.

Remember, too, that even with a new bottle, heat can speed up its breakdown. So keep your sunscreen out of direct sunlight and avoid storing it in places where the temperature can spike, such as in your car. When you’re out in the sun, we recommend swaddling it in a towel or stashing it in the shade or even a cooler box. Our products also don’t contain chemical stabilisers, which might cause the product to react to temperatures, making it softer in heat and slightly harder when it is colder.

10. Do Sunscreen ‘Pills’ Work?

Nope. As the FDA said in a recent statement, “There’s no pill or capsule that can replace your sunscreen.”
The FDA has sent warning letters to several supplement makers for including unproven sun-protection claims on the capsules they promoted on their websites. These included misleading statements that their products would “strengthen your skin’s defences against ultraviolet radiation” or provide “broad-spectrum” protection.” One customer review said, “it’s basically an oral sunscreen … This would be especially useful for people who have had skin cancer, are at risk for skin cancer … ”

Instead of relying on a supplement for sun protection, use sunscreen along with other sun-avoidance strategies, such as seeking shade on sunny days and wearing sun-protective clothing such as hats, long sleeves, sunglasses, and long pants.

Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment