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Photographer Thomas Leveritt is hoping his video will help shed light on the importance of sunscreen and it seems to be having an effect.
The video shows how skin appears when viewed under ultraviolet lights. The difference is like night and day. People of diverse races are seen approaching the camera and then standing to be viewed. Many of them gasp to see the appearance of their skin under the UV light, which shows the appearance of the skin beyond what can be seen by the naked eye.
Also compelling is what happens when people apply sunscreen to their faces. The portion of skin that’s covered by the lotion appears under the UV as solid black streaks. Levitt says this shows that sunscreen can indeed block UV rays.
Here are some skin cancer prevention tips that doctors swear by.
Use Sunscreen Correctly
“Choose a sunscreen labeled SPF 30 or more, and includes the words Broad Spectrum and Water Resistant. Re-apply every two hours or after you swim or sweat. Apply sunscreen liberally. It takes approximately 1 ounce (a shot glass) to cover an adult.”
— Timothy Wang, MD, dermatologist for the Melanoma Program at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center
Know What Works and When
“You should wear sunscreen even when driving in the car as window glass only blocks UVB light, not UVA. And UVA light is also associated with skin cancer and as well as skin thinning. The sunscreen in makeup can’t be relied on, as it is typically lower in SPF than claimed by the manufacturer and wears off easily.“
— Bruce E. Katz, M.D. Clinical Professor and Director of the Cosmetic Surgery & Laser Clinic. Mt. Sinai School of Medicine
Monitor Your Skin
“Be aware of your skin and regularly look for any changes, including new skin spots or moles, or changes in the size, shape or color of existing spots or moles. Take any concerns to your doctor for an evaluation. Have your skin examined annually by a dermatologist to check for signs of skin cancer.”
— Mary K. Tripp, Ph.D., M.P.H., The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Instructor of Behavioral Science
Source: ABC News, Good Morning America
No Loose Powder Sunscreens
Loose powder sunscreens such in the form of mineral makeup are designed to be applied on the face and scalp. Although they contain zinc and titanium particles that offer strong UV protection, it is difficult for users to judge if they are applying a thick and even coat.
But the bigger problem is inhaling the tiny zinc and titanium particles. Based on studies by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, inhaled titanium dioxide is “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” FDA’s current rules no longer allow loose powers to advertise an SPF or make claims of sun protection. But the FDA granted small companies until the end of December 2013 to remove their powders from the market. Be on the lookout and avoid loose powder sunscreens.
No Spray Sunscreens
Although ever so convenient, like loose powdered sunscreen, there is a growing concern that these sprays pose serious inhalation risks. Although the FDA has expressed concern about the safety of spray sunscreens and are currently researching into inhalation risks, companies continue to turn them out.
If you must run spray sunscreen, it is best to spray it on your hands and then rub the sunscreen onto your skin. But that basically defeats the purpose of using a spray-on product, so you’re better off with using lotion-based sunscreen.
No Sunscreen Towelettes
The FDA ended the sale of sunscreen wipes and towelettes, but these can still be purchased online and some are even marketed as safe for babies. The biggest concern is that these towelettes do not get enough sunscreen on your skin to ensure sun protection. This is another example where the convenience is not worth the risk.
No Combined Sunscreen/Bug Repellents
“Studies shown that combining sunscreen with DEET caused the skin to absorb insect repellent more than three times faster than when used alone”, according to WebMD. Also, you’ll need to reapply sunscreen more often than bug repellent, so using a product that combines both is not a good idea. Luckily, bugs are typically not a problem during the hours when UV exposure peaks, so skip these combination products.
Keep In Mind
As summer ends and fall begins, it is essential to not forget that UV rays can damage your skin yearlong. Overcast clouds may block out sunshine, but the UV rays still get through and many times, we let our guard down believing dark skies equals less UV exposure.
In addition to preventing three types of skin cancer, Queensland researchers have discovered that sunscreen shields a ‘superhero’ p53 gene that repairs UV damaged skin.
Scientists performed the world’s first molecular level human study of the impact of sunscreen confirmed that sunscreen provides 100 percent protection against all three forms of skin cancer – basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma. Skin biopsies also confirmed that sunscreen shields the p53 gene, also known as the tumor suppressor gene.
The p53 gene is responsible for proteins that can either repair damaged cells or cause damaged cells to die. However, exposure to UV can mutate the p53 gene, thus rendering it from functioning properly.
“As soon as our skin becomes sun damaged, the p53 gene goes to work repairing that damage and thereby preventing skin cancer occurring,” said lead researcher Dr. Elke Hacker, from Queensland University of Technology’s AusSun Research Lab. “But over time if skin is burnt regularly the p53 gene mutates and can no longer do the job it was intended for – it no longer repairs sun damaged skin and without this protection skin cancers are far more likely to occur.”
Fifty-seven people who participated in the study underwent a series of skin biopsies to examine molecular changes to the skin before and after UV exposure. First, the researchers took small skin biopsies of each participant’s unexposed skin. Then, a mild does of UV light was exposed to two skin spots on each participant, but sunscreen was applied only to one spot. After 24 hours, another set of skin biopsies were taken.
“After 24 hours, we took another set of biopsies and compared the skin samples,” Hacker said. “What we found was that, after 24 hours, where the sunscreen had been applied there were no DNA changes to the skin and no impact on the p53 gene.”
Hacker concludes that the study could be used to help develop post-sun exposure treatments that can repair sun-damaged skin, such as super sunscreens.
As always, remember to wear sunscreen and reapply every two hours.
Spray-on sunscreen is quite convenient but inhaling its questionable chemicals is a health risk. The chemicals used in rub-in sunscreen for years and years are still not yet fully understood, so why inhale them? Furthermore, spray-on sunscreens also make it too easy to apply too little or miss a spot, thus leaving bare skin exposed to harmful UV rays.
According to the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG), the two major types of sunscreen available in the U.S. are "chemical" and "mineral" sunscreens. “Chemical” sunscreens are more common, and its active ingredients such as PABA or PARSOL 1789 and oxybenzone penetrate into the bloodstream and mimic the body’s natural hormones and may confuse the body's Endochrine system, which regulates our mood, growth and development, metabolism, and reproductive processes.
"Mineral" sunscreens are considered somewhat safer, as their active ingredients are from natural elements such as zinc or titanium. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide provide strong sun protection with few health concerns, and don't break down in the sun. Thus, EWG recommends to sticking with "mineral" sunscreens while taking other precautions such as looking for shade, wearing protective clothing and eyewear, and avoiding the noontime sun.
EWG recommends avoiding spray-on sunscreens entirely. "These ingredients are not meant to be inhaled into the lungs." Furthermore, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is exploring the risks of inhaling spray sunscreens, which are greatest among children.
Here a few examples of sunscreens recommended by the EWG:
Click here to see the complete list of sunscreens that meet EWG's criteria.
After more than 30 years, the FDA has finally updated regulations for sunscreens. For years, mislabeling has caused mass customer confusion and misleading claims. With skin cancer on the rise, consumers have the right to know if their sunscreen of choice is safely and effectively protecting them from the sun’s cancerous UV rays.
The new FDA regulations require sunscreen brands to rework their labels and possibly their formulas because of new testing methods. Major sunscreen brands had until December 2012 to comply with the new regulations. So, the sunscreen products available today at your local retailer should include the updated labels to make it easier for you to choose the right one for you.
Keep in mind there quite a few changes. But in the end, it is a win-win situation for us, the consumers.
Here’s a summary of what to look out for:
Sunscreens with a SPF of 15+ can be marked to reduce the risk of skin cancer and premature skin aging.
Sunscreens with SPF 2-14 must now display a warning that the product has not been shown to prevent skin cancer or premature skin aging.
A sunscreen cannot claim to provide 2 hours of protection without valid data and tests to prove it.
Prior to the new FDA regulations, there was no standards regulating the term ‘broad spectrum.’ Thus, some sunscreen brands stated broad spectrum protection even if the sunscreen contained only a small amount of UVA blocking ingredients. In essence, the term ‘broad spectrum’ was more a marketing gimmick.
However, the new FDA regulations only allow sunscreens to be labeled as broad spectrum if they provide a SPF of 15 or higher and have passed a FDA-sanctioned test to prove protection against UVA and UVB radiation.
Proof versus Resistant
The terms ‘waterproof’, ‘sweatproof’, and ‘sunblock’are no longer allowed on sunscreen labels. The term ‘water-resistant’may be used if the sunscreen has been tested to protect the skin for 40 to 80 minutes of swimming or sweating. A disclaimer must be included to instruct the consumer to reapply after 40 to 80 minutes or to use a ‘water-resistant’ sunscreen if swimming or excessively sweating.
Although not a regulation, the FDA is promoting the SPF cap to be 50. The FDA claims that they have not found data that proves SPF 100 to be more effective than SPF 50. Therefore, consumers should not be misled that a sunscreen product of SPF 100 provides double the protection on a sunscreen of SPF 50. This is simply not true.
In the past, cosmetic companies have labeled their makeup products to include SPF and broad spectrum protection. Because the new FDA regulations that do not make a distinction between beach and cosmetic products, makeup products that claim sun protection are subjected to the same regulations and tests as sunscreen products. Thus, this will cause cosmetic companies to re-evaluate their claims and possibly alter their ingredients and labels.
The FDA has requested additional data from manufactures to determine if spray-on sunscreens are effective and/or harmful if inhaled.
With a plethora of sunscreen lotions available on the market, it can be difficult to choose which one is right for you. Each sunscreen makes claims that are purely for marketing purposes, so by knowing the basics below, you’ll be able to decipher the facts from the fluff.
What is Sunscreen?
Sunscreen helps prevent the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation rays, particularly UVA and UVB, from reaching and damaging the skin. UVB rays are the chief cause of redness and sunburns and damage the top layers of the skin.
UVA rays penetrate deeply into the skin and are responsible for prematurely aging skin by causing it to wrinkle and to become leather-like. UVA is the dominant tanning ray and accelerates the development of skin cancer, especially by intensifying the carcinogen effects of UVB rays. UVA rays account for 95% of the UV radiation that reaches the earth’s surface and is the type of ray tanning booths emit, but with a dose 12 times more powerful than the sun.
What is SPF?
SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, is a measure of a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB rays, not UVA rays, from damaging the skin. In simple terms, SPF prevents you from getting ‘burned.’ However, reddening” is caused to UVB rays alone, so plenty of UVA damage can be done even if you do not get a sunburn. A number denotes SPF, and the most common ones are 15, 30, and 50.
The higher the SPF, the more UVB rays are blocked.
Notice that no sunscreen can block 100% of UVB rays. Although SPF 15 provides excellent protection, it may be best to use 30 or 50 if you have sensitive skin or for good measure. The extra couple of percentages may not seem significant, but do make a difference if your skin is exposed to the sun for hours and hours.
The SPF number is also a theoretical factor of how long the sunscreen can prevent reddening. For example, if it takes 10 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red, then using a SPF 15 sunscreen prevents reddening 15 times longer, or about 2.5 hours.
Regardless of the SPF used, sunscreen should be thoroughly reapplied to your skin every two hours and more frequently if you swim or excessively sweat.
What is Multi-Spectrum or Broad Spectrum Protection?
These labels indicated that some UVA protection is provided, but there is no consensus on how much protection is provided. Although it is best to use a broad spectrum sunscreen that offers both UVA and UVB protection, keep in mind that these labels are purely for marketing effect.
Sunscreen and Skin Protection Guidelines