BEAUTY & SKINCARE

S.T.A.C.Y. and A Three-Course Sunscreen

Sunscreens, heh? You can’t do with them, you can’t do without. Here comes a round-up of recent health knowledge, short & sweet to read & to share.

Dear Adventurers,
As summer draws near, I felt it was about time to refresh what I know about sunscreen, and to share it with you in handy, hopefully easy-to-memorise nuggets of wisdom.sunshine-tree-orchard

I hope that this post will encourage you to get informed to find out what works specifically for you, in your geographic area, for your skin type.

For more detailed and accurately updated insights, you could check out this post:
Understanding Ultraviolet
And here is another useful bit of info:
Sunscreen and Suntan: Newest Knowledge to Keep Us Safe

S.T.A.C.Y. or: 5 Most Important Sunblock Options

S.T.A.C.Y. is short for my very own skin protection strategy.
I am not chasing a sexy tan, mostly because I just won’t tan easily – so why bother, right?

STACY-sun-protection-mnemonicS is Shadow: the vampire tactics – staying out of the direct sunrays helps.
T is Time: avoid the Solar High Time according to your time zone and season (it’s 10am-4pm over here).
A is Accessories & clothes: choose garments that can shield you from the sunrays, don’t forget hats, scarves, gloves, and sunglasses.
C is Cosmetics: sun lotion is the most obvious and the most tricky one because it can be toxic, unhandy to use (sticky, oily…) and tends to be worn away by sweat, movement etc.
Y is Yum: food is the most waterproof sunscreen that studies seem to prove does help – unless you are getting extreme exposure (sport, seaside, mountains etc.)

Adding them up is not cheating 😉

The Safest, Most Powerful Ingredient In Sunscreen Lotions

Non-nano coated Zink Oxide.
This ingredient is the most effective (UVA + UVB filtering) and the safest sunscreen out there, according to the most recent research, and approved by the FDA.
Its nano-sized form however is not considered safe (link opens a PDF).
And while I don’t approve of animal testing, non-nano Zink Oxide has been tested on animals, just like any ingredient allowed for commercial/industrial use (link opens a PDF), and proved to be non-irritant and safe.uncoated-zink-oxide-INCI

Double Digit SPF: Sense and Nonsense

In the EU, sunscreen products that promise SPF over 50 are verboten as misleading.
Remember this formula:
Properly applied, SPF 15 will let 7% of sunrays reach your skin.
Properly applied, SPF 30 will let 4% of sunrays reach your skin.
And an SPF 60 lotion will still allow 2% to get through.

Key here is “properly applied” though.
And to find out whatever that means, check out the next paragraph.

Sunscreen: Daily Dose & One Warning

To protect our complete body AND to attain the SPF stated on the product we use, the average dose is 30 ml.
But how much is that? Pretty much:30ml-sunscreen

Why Raspberries Don’t Get A Sunburn

berrylove-raspberriesNature is the most powerful source of UV protection – obviously. The Earth’s amazing Flora needs to protect itself from UV exposure, too. The highest SPF of up to 40 is found in raspberry seed oil. Carrot seed oil follows with SPF 30, wheat germ oil has SPF 20, coconut oil SPF 10.

To Avoid At All Cost In Sunscreen Lotions

Retinyl Palmitate (Retinol)
Oxybenzone
Octyl Methoxycinnamate
Homosalate
Parabens

Formaldehyde donors
4-methylbenzylidene Camphor
And – at least in case you plan to swin in a pool – avoid products with Nano-coated Titanium Dioxide. Chlorine in the pool water is likely to give you a nano-treat. While no evidence is there that nano-particles can penetrate skin, we don’t fully understand their impact and thus the risks and potential side-effects yet. NB: it’s not considered to be safe to use sprays with nano particles.

Some more about Titanium Dioxide:
As Wikipedia tells us, “Titanium dioxide occurs in nature as well-known minerals rutileanatase and brookite”.
In short: rutile is safe for use, anatase is a b#tch, and unfortunately you can’t tell what they put into the sun lotion that you are using.
A 2010 Italian study has found out that Anatase produced free radical damage on skin.

CRAZY FACT:
There are no regulations to make beauty companies disclose on the product labels whether Rutile or Anatase Titanium Dioxide is used nor to state if they’re coated or not.”

Why Red Like A Shrimp Is Good For You. WUT!?

Astaxanthin.
This is a natural carotenoid that gives microalgae, shrimp, krill, and salmon their distinct red colour.
It is not converted to Vitamin A in the human body, but it helps prevent and fight oxidative stress in our body cells, and performs 500 times more efficiently than Vitamin E.
Since you’d need whopping three pounds of salmon on a daily basis to give you the UV protection needed, astaxanthin is available as a nutritional supplement. But watch out! You should make sure that you pick a natural supplement and not some frankencrafted cocktail derived from mineral oil.
(If you like, check out this Wikipedia article on Astaxanthin.)

Sunscreen On Your Plate

Data on UV exposure and protection is super complex, and it seems that you can ask three experts only to receive five opinions.
In addition, sun lotions however important are not The Panacea for skin protection.

With the compexity of studies, data, conclusions, controversies, opinions and, obviously, agendas it’s pretty hard to determine which way to go.

For me personally, proper UV protection means layering (the principle I call S.T.A.C.Y. to help memorise).
And food is one huge part of that.

Apart from astaxanthin, recent research proves that coffee, green tea, and carotenoid-rich foods (always with a bit of healthy fat needed to process the carotene goodness – like tomato soup with olive oil) help build up a one-digit SPF from inside out.food-rich-in-carotenesWith three cups of green tea in the morning, an occasional coffee in the afternoon, and one serving of carotene- and antioxidant-rich foods* per meal – maybe with an astaxanthin pill in between – the mission Skin Protection from Inside Out looks accomplished for an urban dweller.
But don’t forget S.T.A.C.Y., okay? 😉

And what is your UV protection style?
Fave product?
Concerns?
Do share!

* APROPOS ANTIOXIDANT-BRIMMED FOODS:
Posts tagged “nutrient check” bring you my selection of delicious and uber-healthy superfoods; grains, fruit, vegs, spices, and beverages.

14 replies »

  1. As a redhead with blue eyes (the persona that comes in just after albino in skin cancer tendancies if I understand correctly), I was very, very happy to read this. It helps to explain why a certain orgnaic spf 50 brand (due to its ingredients) did not give me coverage last year when I needed it plus what to look for in the future. Where I live it is sun, sun, sun and my skin needs protecting. Trust me, I get what I need and then some!
    Thank you.

  2. Oh dear, I need to review my sunscreen habits, I use a factor 50 sunscreen on my face every day, I stopped for about a year and during that time I got a few freckles so I started to use a sunscreen again. What I now need to do is to check what’s in the product I use!

    • factor 50 *might* be a bit over the top, but it all depends on the overall formula. try and check it with either codecheck.info or EWG’s skindeep – I am yet to find a UK-based resource for INCI checks…

    • coconut oil has fantastic properties!

      I remember having a fun short discussion with the “no more dirty looks” girls on twitter as they said coconut oi was their fave feet care oil (it’s anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory) — because I said it was a very slippery dance when you applied coconut oil to your feet 😀