I hope you have been enjoying the magnificent Victoria weather over the last few days but also protecting yourself from the sun. Why is it that we have to protect our skin from the sun, isn’t it a ‘natural’ source of vitamin D? It is, but because of changes in the ozone layer, we are exposed to more UVA and UVB radiation than ever before and we have not evolved to be able to handle it… yet!
Did you know that there is a difference between sunscreen and sunblock? Most of us use the terms interchangeably but they are different.
Firstly, sun has Ultraviolet A and Ultraviolet B rays. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and lead to oxidative damage, skin cancer, and the visible signs of aging. UVB rays don’t penetrate as deeply but are primarily what causes sunburn and mutation of DNA leading to skin cancer.
Depending on the ingredients, sunscreen deflects and absorbs UVB radiation with a chemical reaction. Some of the chemicals may include oxybenzone, octisalate, and avobenzone. The downside of sunscreen is that it does not protect against UVA radiation and the chemicals used may be potentially harmful if used on a regular basis.
Sunblock creates a physical barrier between your skin and the sun and is much more effective in protecting you from both UVA and UVB. The ingredients found in sunblock are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
When advertising SPF protection, manufacturers are only referring to protection from UVB sunburns as it does not include protection from skin cancer and oxidative damage.
The best option is mineral sunblock because it offers the most protection with the least chemicals and it is easier to find nowadays. Another great option is high tech sun protection clothing that offers SPF protection.
Environmental Working Group