Sun protection is a controversial topic and something that we get asked about all the time! Here at Tailor Skincare we believe the way to care for your skin is your choice and we aim to provide you with the information needed to make an informed decision about how to best care for and protect your skin.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in New Zealand affecting over 67,000 new people each year, so it’s important to be aware of the risks of excessive sun exposure. New Zealand has one of the world's highest rates of skin cancer, which can be attributed to; our ‘outdoor’ lifestyles, low ozone levels over New Zealand, and the high proportion of fair skinned people in New Zealand. However, skin cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer, as 90% of cases are caused by excessive sun exposure.
The importance of Vitamin D
The first thing to understand is that the sun is vital for life on earth, without the sun there would be no plants or food. The sun is also the primary way in which humans can make vitamin D — a vitamin essential for strong bones and a healthy immune system. The skin synthesises vitamin D from UVB light, and without enough exposure to the sun we can easily become deficient, with about half of the New Zealand population being vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D is also accumulated through the diet but only equates to approximately 20% of the body’s total needs, the rest must come from the sun.
The reemergence of vitamin D deficiency has been linked with the excessive use of high SPF sunscreens and lack of time spent in the sun. Studies have shown that as many as half of New Zealanders are vitamin D deficient. This is a very worrying statistic since as mentioned above vitamin D is essential for bone formation and strength, and deficiency in vitamin D during the peak bone mass accumulation years (12-18 years old) has a knock on effect on bone health later in life.
Be sun smart!
There is no need to avoid the sun all of the time, it’s important to be smart about when and for how long you expose yourself to the sun. The sun is at it’s strongest between 10 am and 4 pm during the summer months, so avoiding the sun or using SPF during these times would be wise if you were going to be exposed for longer than 10-15 minutes. However, outside of these times you can afford to be a little more relaxed — but be smart about it. If you have large areas of skin exposed for long periods of time on a cloudless day in winter you could still burn, so take cloud coverage, the amount of skin, and length of exposure into account.
What are your protection options?
You have three options when it comes to sun protection; stay in the shade, cover up, or use a product with SPF. Obviously covering up or staying in the shade are full proof ways to avoid the sun's rays, and can be the best option in the peak of summer while the sun is at its strongest. But sometimes life draws us out from the shade and into the sun. So it’s important to know what SPF options are out there and how they work.
What is SPF?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, and it’s used to measure how well a product filters out ultraviolet (UV) light — one of the types of light that damages and burns skin. The SPF number stands for the amount light the sunblock can filter before the skin starts to burn. For example; a sunblock with an SPF of 30 will provide you with 30 times as much time before the skin would naturally burn. So if your skin would normally burn in 10 minutes, a 30+ SPF product would protect you for 300 minutes. However, SPF numbers are formulated without taking sweating, swimming, or incorrect application into account.
One of the most effective and popular natural SPF ingredients is zinc oxide, which is known as mineral based sun protector. Other synthetic ingredients used in sunscreen include; oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, octocrylene. Some ingredients, including those just mentioned, are able to penetrate the skin and cause disruption to the normal balance of the body.
When we started the process of making moisturisers we put a lot of thought and research into deciding whether or not to add sun protection factor (SPF) into our Moisture products however in the end we decided not to. The main reason for this was that one of the most effective natural substances that can protect the skin from the sun is zinc oxide. And this substance is known to produce free radicals — which are molecules that cause cell damage and ageing. We wanted our moisturisers to be used as a everyday, morning and night product that nourished, hydrated, and helped keep skin youthful, and not one that could contribute to skin damage and ageing. We left this ingredient out as sunscreen is better suited for use as needed so as to avoid unnecessary free radical damage when not in the sun.
The nano particle issue
Zinc oxide is not absorbed into the skin and has been found to have no effects on hormonal balance, so in our opinion it's the safest ingredient to be used for sunscreen based protection. When looking for a zinc oxide sunscreen be sure to look for one that does not advertise nano particles. Some brands advertise the use of zinc oxide nano particles, and this is because the nano particles make the product go on smoother and minimises the white look that can be caused by sunscreen. However, the research is unclear on whether or not these nano particles can be absorbed into the skin (normally these two minerals are too large and would simply sit on the skin's surface). When a product can be absorbed into the skin it enters the blood stream and can have negative effects on the rest of the body, as well as causing free radical damage at deeper levels of the skin rather than just on the surface.
Another ingredient used to help sunscreen go on smooth and offer a matte finish is silicone — often labelled as dimethicone. Short term or infrequent use of silicon is not particularly harmful to the skin, but it does have a clogging effect as it forms a layer over the skin trapping in dirt and oil. Many people will find that they break out or suffer from allergies when using skincare containing dimethicone for long periods of time.
Due to the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) guidelines sunscreen companies don’t need to list all of the ingredients in the product, only the active ingredients must be stated. This means that a product can be advertised or seem natural when in fact it contains other ingredients that could be harmful to your skin. This law makes it hard to know exactly what’s in your product, but there’re several companies which are open about what their products contain; so look for natural sunscreen companies that are open to explaining how their sun protection product works and all the other ingredients they use.
Skin cancer is a serious issue here in NZ and the world which means taking steps to protect yourself is important. While sunscreen products can have a negative effect on the health of your skin and body we believe it is worth the risk to help avoid skin cancer. These products have a time and place for their use. When choosing products look for natural alternatives where possible, and invest in a pretty hat, some light long sleeved shirts and nice beach umbrella this summer.
Tailors pick of Sunscreen
Because we know you can't always avoid the sun we've sourced a fantastic SPF that's 100% natural, made with skin loving ingredients. It's cruelty free, non nano, clinically tested and suitable for the whole family. Best yet this zinc based sunscreen is made right here in New Zealand and packed in recyclable glass jars. Find it here.
Lastly for an additional line of defence increase your antioxidant intake internally and externally!
We've sourced a unique Grapeseed Extract from sav blanc grapes grown in the heart of NZ wine country - Marlborough. This exceptional antioxidant rich extract has shown to defend the skin against UV damage. It's not an ingredient with SPF, it's skin protection mechanism is due to the high antioxidant content in the grapeseed itself - perhaps it has something to do with our harsh NZ sun and the climate these grapes are grown in? As we head into summer, why not try out Tailor Renew and give your skin that extra line of defence against sun damage to prolong it's youthful appearance. Win-win!