The Truth about Sunscreen

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. 

Women soaking up sunshine with sunscreen on

Skin cancer is a significant risk in New Zealand

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in New Zealand affecting over 80,000 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 and our low ozone levels over New Zealand. That said, 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 for our health

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; 1 in 4 New Zealand adults have lower levels of vitamin D than recommended. 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.

How to 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. 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.

Woman wearing sun hat in the summer

Top three sun 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 foolproof 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.

What ingredients are in SPF?

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; avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, octisalate, and octinoxate. 

Woman wearing sunglasses in the pool

Can sunscreen enter your bloodstream? 

A recent study has shown that these ingredients mentioned above are able to penetrate the skin to enter the bloodstream. Despite this, the scientists leading the study still recommend the use of sunscreen as the benefits are well known, and further research on the ingredients mentioned is needed before determining if they could be detrimental to our health. 

Are zinc oxide nanoparticles bad for you? 

Zinc oxide is a natural SPF and provides strong sun protection with few health concerns. Traditionally, it leaves a white cast on the skin. To navigate this, brands can opt for nanoparticles as the smaller size means they have a 'clearer' application on the skin. This raised concerns about if the smaller size could then penetrate the skin and cause damage to our cells and organs. 

While some studies on this have found that while these nanoparticles are able to penetrate the skin, the number is very low - one real-life study finding less than 0.01% of zinc made it into the bloodstream. 
Other American and European government-funded studies concluded that the nanoparticles couldn't penetrate the skin, along with an Italian study. 

Ingredients hidden in sunscreen

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 silicone 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 suffer from allergies or acne, when using skincare containing dimethicone for long periods of time.

In some countries, 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 are 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. 

Tailor Skincare Moisture Everyday Moisturiser

Does Tailor have an SPF product? 

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. We decided not to as we wanted Moisture to be your go-to morning and night nourishing moisturiser. 

During the day, you can follow up Moisture with a sunscreen. If you're a makeup wearer, you'll often find your foundation or powder contains SPF15+ also. 

Incorporating antioxidant-rich skincare like Renew and Gold Dust is also important in protecting your skin from sun damage. UV light causes free radical damage in you skin, which in turn causes premature ageing. Antioxidants work to pair with and halt free radicals to prevent damage while also boosting collagen production and cell turnover. 

Too much sun? Try keeping Hydrate in the fridge and applying for a refreshing, hydrating boost. Plus, the Kowhai extract will soothe your skin. 

Natural sunscreen recommendations

When it comes to choosing your SPF, we recommend you opt for a natural option, as well as doing your own research into the ingredients. We suggest checking out the range from Oh Natural or HealthPost.

Skin cancer is a serious issue here in NZ and the world which means taking steps to protect yourself is important. We believe adding a natural SPF to your routine is essential to help avoid skin cancer, but we also recommend doing your research into the ingredients your putting onto your skin and sometimes subsequently into your bloodstream. This summer we'll also be investing in a pretty hat, some light long sleeved shirts and nice beach umbrella!



References

https://www.sunsmart.org.nz/skin-cancer/facts-and-figures

https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/healthy-living/food-activity-and-sleep/healthy-eating/vitamin-d

https://wellington.cancernz.org.nz/reducing-cancer-risk/what-you-can-do/sunsmart/what-you-can-do/

https://www.fda.gov/news-events/fda-voices/shedding-more-light-sunscreen-absorption

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2759002

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30945275/

https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/nanoparticles-in-sunscreen/

 

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