Saturday, July 2, 2011

Fake that Sun!

many of you may have already heard that the FDA has changed rulings on the labeling of sunscreens. The first change, is one I long suspected- simply because it makes a certain amount of sense, and that is no sunscreen may claim to be waterproof, Sweat proof, or call itself a sunblock as these terms "overstate their effectiveness". I don't know about you, but I have always felt the Waterproof claim made no sense. I have slathered myself up with a creamy lotion, or sprayed myself down with a sticky spray, yet invariably after swimming neither creamy, nor sticky feeling remains- leading to the logical conclusion that, while some may have been absorbed into the skin, most of the sunscreen has been washed away. This same ruling states there may not be of more than 2 hours of wear without re-application, and can not make claims of instant sun protection at moment of application without submitting data and obtaining FDA approval. (you all know you're supposed to apply sunscreen at least 1/2 an hour BEFORE sun exposure right?)
Another piece of the new legislation is that Only those passing FDA testing may claim broad spectrum protection, and also claim "to prevent skin cancer & early aging, If used as directed and with other sun protection measures." which to, essentially reads cover completely with hat, long sleeves, long pants, and sit under an umbrella and MAYBE, it will work. That sounds comfortable at the beach doesn't it?
IF clams to water and sweat resistance are made the label must state a time frame of effectiveness in and out of the water, or through sweating.
Lastly the FDA is wishes to limit the spf value of all sunscreens to 50+ as they feel no data shows an efficacy above this value. Companies are, however, open to independent testing of higher values, and submitting results to FDA for approval. So that spf 70 you thought was keeping you from over exposure- may not be giving you quite the protection you thought.
So here's the breakdown:
1oz of sunscreen is the required amount to cover the average person. (enough to fill a shot glass)
Apply liberally at least 1/2 hour BEFORE sun exposure
re-apply after swimming, sweating, or at least every 2 hours
look for broad spectrum which protects against both UVA and UVB rays
if you do burn, or wish to limit sun exposure further, cover with light clothing, hat, and sit in shaded area.
layering sunscreen products does not increase spf value. ie. layering an spf 50 and an spf 30 lotion will not result in an spf 80, but rather the value of the highest product, in this case spf 50.
which means you may stay out in the sun 50 times longer than if you wore no sunscreen whatsoever. Most sunscreens work by  either absorbing the ultraviolet rays ( this is most typically the non-chemical barrier style sunscreen like Titanium Dioxide, and Zinc Oxide (as long as NOT nano particulate) if they are non-nano they will have a somewhat whitening effect on the skin- and the heavier zinc creams can be very whitening, but are a great choice for those areas that burn quickly (remember zinc white noses?)
The chemical sunscreens, as well as zinc and titanium in nano form (I encourage you to find my archived post on nano's and why I avoid them) are clear in application-they tend to reflect rays as their method of protection, but both forms have aspects of both types of protection. A mix of both barrier and chemical, in my opinion, would probably be the most efficacious system of sunscreen available on the market.