Nothing’s more exasperating than conspicuous breakouts. We all get them, and we all spend a lot of effort trying to avoid them. A daily diet of topical antibiotics and antimicrobials prescribed to combat acne may work for a time, but ultimately, they can disrupt the skin’s microbiome balance. It’s now common knowledge that prolonged use of antibiotics kills off beneficial bacteria found in the gut microbiome, tipping the balance in favor of over-colonization by disease-causing pathogens. Similar to the gut’s microbial disruption-disease cycle, skin microbial dysbiosis can lead to skin problems ranging from redness, irritation, rosacea, rashes, eczema, resurgence of acne and adult acne to photosensitization.
To select a safe and healthy sunscreen, scrutinize sunscreen ingredients, not SPF numbers. Physical sunblocks offer UVB protection equivalent to chemical sunscreens and superior protection against UVA rays and beyond. Some chemicals in sunscreens can be toxic to reproductive systems, cause allergic reactions and accelerate skin aging.
As the subject of how best to protect yourself from the sun grows ever more complicated, advice from all quarters grows shriller and ever more conflicting. Now we have after-sun damage to ponder, and Professor Niehls Jorgensen, author of a new Danish study suggesting a link between exposure to an enormous number of chemicals in plastics and low sperm counts, advises men not to wear sunscreen at all.
Sun protection is a complicated business, and it’s little wonder consumers are confused, fed up or just plain bored with the whole subject. But sun protection is important. Melanoma (the most deadly form of skin cancer) rates are skyrocketing, and simply put, wearing sunscreen can save lives. However, it can’t be just any old sunscreen. In fact, most sunscreens are worse than useless, as the EWG points out.