According to the National Cancer Institute, over the past 35 years the rate of new melanoma cases among American adults has tripled, from 7.89 per 100,000 population in 1975 to 23.57 in 2010. (NCI 2013). Just as alarming, the melanoma death rate for white American men, the highest risk group, has also escalated sharply, from 2.64 deaths per 100,000 in 1975 to 4.10 in 2010
SPF .. high, medium and low .. or perhaps sit in the shade.
Many studies have found that people are misled by the claims on high-SPF sunscreen bottles. They are more likely to use high SPF products improperly and as a result may expose themselves to more harmful ultraviolet radiation than people relying on products with lower SPF. A sunscreen lotion's SPF rating has little to do with protecting one against UVA rays. Chemicals that form a product's sun protection, are aimed at protecting against Ultraviolet B Rays, which are the primary cause of sunburns and non-melanoma skin cancers. Ultraviolet A rays penetrate deeper into the skin and are harder to block with sunscreen ingredients approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration for use in U.S. sunscreens. High-SPF products require higher concentrations of sun-filtering chemicals than low-SPF sunscreens. Some of these ingredients may pose health risks when they penetrate the skin, where they have been linked to tissue damage and potential hormone disruption. Some may trigger allergic skin reactions. If studies showed that high-SPF products were better at reducing skin damage and skin cancer risk, that extra chemical exposure might be justified. But they don’t, so choosing sunscreens with lower concentrations of active ingredients – SPF 30 instead of SPF 70, for example – is prudent. Retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A, may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight (NTP 2012). The sunscreen industry adds Vitamin A to 20% of their beach and sport lotions as well as their face and makeup SPF lotions. EWG recommends that consumers avoid products containing vitamin A, retinyl palmitate and retinol.
To Zinc or Not to ZINC ..
Products in EWG’s sunscreen database that utilize minerals to filter UV rays are made with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, usually in the form of nanoparticles. Though no ingredient is without hazard or completely effective, on balance our ratings favor these mineral sunscreens. They do not penetrate the skin, and they are stable in the presence of sunlight.
Sunscreens made with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide generally score well in EWG’s ratings because:
- they provide strong sun protection with few health concerns;
- they don’t break down in the sun;
- zinc oxide offers good protection from UVA rays – titanium oxide less so, but better than most other active ingredients.
I am currently developing a waterproof sunscreen which has shea butter (spf 6), coconut oil spf 2-8, cocoa butter, wheatgerm oil spf 20, beeswax to make it waterproof and zinc .. for the best sun protection other than staying out of the sun. This will be available come spring in a stick formulation for easy application. Remember, nothing is 100% effect so don't stay in the sun for extended periods of time and always wear a hat!