"...global warming because of manmade factors has been accelerating in recent years. In March , a group of leading scientists—including Dr. James Hansen, widely regarded as the first person to have raised awareness on climate change—issued a report warning that the effects of global warming could come quicker and at a far bigger impact than originally thought." -Jonathon Chew, Fortune, 4/20/16
There is no denying that climate change affects every aspect of our lives--even skin care. At some point in the upward trajectory of levels of heat, pollution and UV emissions, protective skin care will transition from a cosmetic option to a health necessity. And because we aren’t used to thinking of skin care in that way, it will be a non-trivial leap.
But even though the necessity for comprehensive skin protection is something new under the sun it doesn’t have to be regarded as dire, doomsday, or even that much of a nuisance.
For most of us it will simply mean applying a zinc oxide only sunscreen, SPF 20 to 30, before we go outside, and it will take less time than brushing your teeth.
If you belong to a group that requires more comprehensive protection, or if you would just like to have it, please see below for some suggestions. We start with the youngest of us first.
To use: Nothing! A little sun is better than putting stuff on their lovely skins. It’s a developing organ, so let it develop. In the case of lots of exposure, blankets, hats, cover ups, parasols, umbrellas and shade are all good.
To avoid: Keep washing with soap to a minimum. Yoghurt makes a great cleanser. The baby is developing its own protective mechanisms, and too much washing interferes with the skin’s natural course of development. Especially do not use soaps, shampoos, lotions or anything else “designed” for babies that contain mineral oil. Olive, safflower or sunflower oil are fine to use when you want an oil.
To avoid: Chemical sunscreens, especially those that contain oxybenzone, a suspected endocrine disruptor. Sunscreen sprays of any type, even zinc oxide based, pose an inhalation risk and don’t really cover skin adequately.
To use: Sunscreen! The ADA reports that men between the ages of 15 to 39 are more than twice as likely to die of melanoma as compared to their female peers, and dermatologists suspect reluctance to wear sunscreen is part of the problem. Men, get used to wearing sunscreen, zinc oxide only. SPF 20 is fine, it just should be every day.
To avoid: Sunscreen! Aye, there’s the rub. A 15-year study of 5,000 Danish men with an average age of 19 revealed that only 25% had a healthy sperm count, and Professor Jorgensen, one of the researchers, goes so far as to tell men not to wear sunscreen. Of course, he’s talking about chemical sunscreens with ingredients like oxybenzone that disprupt hormones. I am sure even he wouldn’t object to a zinc oxide-based sunscreen.
To use: Zinc oxide and iron oxides offer protection in the visible light range, which might be important for people suffering from hyperpigmentation and melasma.
To use: a sunscreen with an SPF rating no higher than 30. The sunscreen should contain zinc oxide. A very interesting study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found that the immune protection factor did not correlate with the SPF in a sunscreen, however it significantly correlated with UVA protective capability. The authors suggest rating sunscreens against their immune protective capability, which provides a better indication of their ability to protect against skin cancer.
To avoid: Chemical sunscreens, especially those with a high SPF rating. There are problems with high SPF ratings. For one thing, when sun burn warning signals are too efficiently blocked users may stay out in the sun long enough to incur significant UVA damage. In addition, there’s a trade-off factor in sunscreens; sunscreens with high SPF ratings tend to protect less well at the longer wavelength end of the spectrum (and vice versa). If the immune protection factor correlates significantly with UVA protective capability (but not SPF) in a sunscreen, as the JID study attests, this finding just turns conventional thinking on its head. My italics are to emphasize that high SPF sunscreens, contrary to conventional wisdom, may not be your best cancer prevention tool. They may even be counter productive, in that you think you are being protected when you are not.
Note: For those of you who just can’t get enough of the subject of sun protection. I have already written rather extensively about some of these issues, but rather than repeat myself (and drive you crazy) I have provided a list of topics that are already on the blog, with links, just in case you’d like to plumb the depths of skin protection further.
Please free to explore any or all of the topics that catch your eye. And if there’s anything you’d like me to discuss in even more excruciating detail, please let me know. Always happy to oblige.
Marie's blog: Did You Know? The Right Sunscreen Lowers Cancer Risk and Delays Aging
SPF ratings and what they really mean
Marie's blog: Did You know? Scrutinize Sunscreen Ingredients, Not SPF Numbers
Marie's blog: Did You Know? Products boasting high SPF can be very misleading.
The real scoop on after-hours sun damage--chemiexcitation
Marie's blog: Taking the Spin out of Skin Care: It’s Dangerous To Get It Wrong
Men’s skin care
Marie's blog: Every Sperm Counts: A Sperm-Savers’ Shopping Guide
Marie's blog: The Sunscreen Story Just Got Another Story
Skin care protection tips for everyone
Marie's blog: Nine Suggestions for Sensible Sun Protection
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