Taking a look at sun protection products

Being outside in the sunny weather means putting on sun cream.

UVA and UVB radiation from the sun causes sunburn, premature aging and skin cancer. UVA rays are more harmful than UVB rays, being able to penetrate glass and deep into the skin layers but UVB rays also penetrate the upper layers of the skin. Together the rays affect cellular structure and cause changes leading to skin aging and cancers.

There are so many choices of sun protection on the market - how do you know which is right for you? Its a matter of personal choice but here is some information that might help you make a decision.

Apart from the SPF which we will get into in a moment, there are basically 2 types of sun protection on the market - products that protect the skin by including chemicals that absorb the UV radiation and products that contain ingredients that reflect the UV radiation, In addition, you can buy creams, oils , sticks. mousses and gels that all claim SPF protection.

The different ingredients that can be used are usually better at absorbing or reflecting either UVA or UVB but not both so often sun protectors have more than one chemical to cover the range. In addition, products might have anti inflammatory ingredients and ingredients to stop free radicals (which are responsible for aging).

SPF is the number we all look at when we decide what to buy. SPF is determined by a set of tests which I won't go into here, but SPF must be proven before they can be stated on a product. If you buy a product that doesn't seem to work, chances are it was too thin, or did not stick to your skin well enough, or washed off in water. Oils and gels tend to be transparent which doesn't help, whereas creams are opaque, and thicker and that makes them generally more effective. In theory an SPF of at least 15 is enough to prevent harmful radiation. In the EU, SPF 30 is rated as high protection and SPF 50 is very high protection and these limits are similar in the US.

Examples of ingredients that reflect radiation are zinc oxide and titanium oxide. Some ingredients that absorb UVA radiation include Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane (BMDM), Methylene Bis-Benzotriazolyl Tetramethylbutylphenol (MBBT), Diethylaminohydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate (DHBB). Examples of ingredients that absorb UVB radiation include Diethylhexyl Butamido Triazone, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate.

Other ingredients that may be in a sun protection product are anti inflammatories like Aloe Vera, and free radical scavengers like Tocopherol (Vitamin E) or Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate.

Children's sun protection products should be more moisturising as their skin is thinner and they lost moisture faster. These tend to include reflective ingredients to lessen any skin reaction to the absorbing chemicals.

Face creams often include SPFs and the potential ingredients would include those listed above.

I hope you find this helpful. This is a short summary about sun protection products and research is going on all the time into making these more effective.

Thanks for reading!


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