Skin, Sun Damage and Sunscreens (SPF’s)

We have been basking in the unexpected rays of an early spring (or is it a late winter?!) and it has encouraged a lot of our clients to ask us about their sunscreens and skin protection.

‘But it’s February!’ I hear you cry! That’s no reason for you to ignore sunscreens…

Suns rays are made up of 3 types of UV rays – UVA, UVB and UVC. UVC is filtered out by the Ozone layer, whereas UVA and UVB are not.

Sun damage and sunscreens

UVA UVB and UVC rays make up the suns rays.

UVB rays are the ones we are most conscious of – they are generally accompanied by hot weather, and we all know now that we shouldn’t burn, right? However even in cold weather, UVB rays can still cause burning and tanning – and anyone who has ever been skiing will know that!  UVB is also responsible for most Basal and Squamous cell carcinomas – 2 of the most common types of skin cancers.

From an ageing and skin damage point of view, UVA is our biggest villain! Not only does it penetrate further into the skin than UVB, it can also come through glass. Regular drivers often notice more sun damage on one side than the other, which is demonstrated by this picture of a life-long lorry driver.

Sun damage lorry driver

A life long lorry driver showing sun damage on the side of his face exposed to the window.

The ultraviolet light in sunlight damages the DNA in the skin cells, as well as causing premature ageing of the skin and eye damage (including cataracts).  This damage can happen years before a cancer develops.

So now we can see that protecting our skin from UV exposure should be a daily priority, but whilst slapping on the nearest SPF might be the easy answer, many sunscreens are loaded with some damaging ingredients meaning that any benefit gained from the sun screen is offset by the damage caused by these ingredients.

Effect of sunscreen

What’s the difference between physical and chemical sunscreens?

Physical Sunscreens – contain natural minerals zinc oxide and titanium dioxide which cover the surface of the skin to physically block out or reflect the suns UVA (AGING) and UVB (BURNING) rays.
Usage – as the ingredients don’t reduce in effectiveness throughout the day, physical sunscreen provides a much longer lasting protection and re-application is generally not needed.

Chemical Sunscreens – contain synthetic filters which are absorbed into the skin which can lead to skin irritation, reactions and also generate cell damaging free radicals when exposed to the sun.
Usage – manufacturers advise that this needs to be applied EVERY 2 hours as the filters erode quickly, chemical sunscreens are ABSORBED into the skin and therefore your SPF is reduced dramatically within the first 20 minutes of application and you are absorbing those breakdown chemicals into the skin.

Sunscreens ingredients to be avoided:

  • OXYBENZONE -when exposed to the sun, oxybenzone alters hormone levels, can cause allergic reactions and eczema. Studies have found that high exposure in men had a 30% reduction in fertility. Oxybenzone also poses a hazard to coral reef conservation and has been banned in states such as Hawaii where sea life is at most risk.
    • OCTINOXATE – is an endocrine disruptor that mimics oestrogen and disrupts thyroid function. Oxtinoxate is harmful to wildlife and humans, damaging skin cells and causing premature ageing. It reduces sperm count and disrupts sperm cell functions.
    • VITAMIN A PALMITATE – when exposed to the suns rays it produces destructive free radicals which damage DNA
    • HOMOSALATE – toxic to humans, and permanently accumulates in our bodies.
    • OCTOCRYLENE – toxic to the environment
    • PARABENS – hormones disruptors, are often found in cells which have been found in breast cancer suffers. Parabens are used as cheap preservatives.

What is the solution?

• Limit your sun exposure
• Cover up
• Use Alumier MD sunscreen EVERY DAY of the year.
• Reapply your physical sun screen every 2/3 hours if swimming, washing, towel drying or heavy perspiring

Alumier sunscreen SPF

Alumier sunscreens offer physical protection of at least factor 40

And if you want to know any more, contact us on 0121 227 4111 or click here and book a free skin consultation.

Sun damage and sunscreens