With spring break right around the corner I wanted to drop in and talk about sunscreen. Now, I made this post a while back but wanted to bring it to light again (pun totally intended). I’ve added to the post and dropped in some new pictures from our honeymoon to freshen it up. So if you’ve already seen this post hopefully you’ll learn something new, and at the very least you’ll see some new pictures! So let’s talk sunscreen!
The Truth About Your Sunscreen
Quick, it’s quiz time! True or False: SPF 30 gives you twice the amount of protection as an SPF 15. If you guessed “true”, then I’m sorry to say that you’ve been duped… the answer is “false”. A sunscreen that is SPF 30 only gives you about 3% more protection than one that is SPF 15. Here is a further breakdown…
- SPF 15 blocks about 94% of UV radiation
- SPF 30 blocks about 97% of UV radiation
- SPF 45 blocks about 98% of UV radiation
Companies lead you to believe that their sunscreen has “mega” “ultra” or “super” protection when in fact there really is no difference in the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) once you’ve broken the SPF 15 barrier. Talk about misleading marketing…
Furthermore, sunscreens between 75-100 SPF offer far less UVA than UVB protection, thus offering a false sense of protection.
Backup, what exactly are UVA and UVB rays?
UVA rays make up for 95% of all UV light that reaches the earth’s surface. This long, UV wave length, easily penetrates though clouds and glass; maintaining the same strength throughout the day and year.
These rays damage skin (think wrinkles and sun spots) because they penetrate the skin more deeply, into the dermis, which is your 2nd layer of skin.
Currently the US and Canada do not require sunscreens to offer any UVA protection.
To make sure your sunscreen protects you from UVA rays look for the words “broad-spectrum” on the bottle. This means it will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays.
UVB rays are the chief cause of sunburns and the only UV source of vitamin D. You cannot get vitamin D from UVA rays.
UVB rays have a shorter UV wave length than UVA and can only penetrate through the epidermis (our 1st layer of skin) and can only reach the Earth’s surface during certain times of the day and year. It’s important, not to totally block UVB rays because they provide your body with essential doses of vitamin D3.
To see the most beneficial times to get vitamin D follow this Sun Altitude Table (calculated by USNO). Enter your state, town, and the date you want data for, then click compute table. It will spit out a data sheet; the time of day will be on the left and the altitude will be in middle.
You can ONLY get vitamin D when the sun’s altitude is 50 or above. In New England this is typically April thru September between 10am-3pm.
Back to sunscreen. What’s actually in it?
Now that we’ve talked radiation, let’s talk about what’s actually in these lotions that you lather all over your body and reapply several times throughout the day.
There are so many chemicals being pumped into sunscreen products, like chemical fragrances, parabens, toxic chemical solvents, and petroleum oils (just to name a few).
What’s even worse is that as you lay in the sun and your body sweats, your pours open up, providing a direct slip n’ slide route for these chemicals to feed directly into your body.
But if you’re anything like me, I use sunscreen sparingly and prefer to go bare. If I do need sun protection I will either using clothing, hang in the shade, or use sunscreen.
Having a healthy diet can also help protect you from burning and sun damage.
Food As Sunscreen
In addition to what you put ON your body, what you put IN your body can help shield you from sunburns.
- Vitamin D: Either D3 supplements or natural food sources like cod liver oil work great!
- Healthy Saturated Fats: Like grass-fed meat, pasture raised eggs, butter (from grass-fed cows), and coconut fats.
- Drinking Green Tea: Polyphenols (in green tea) inhibits the development of skin tumors by controlling inflammation and preventing DNA damage
- AVOIDING Omega 6’s: People with high levels of Omega-6’s have proven to burn faster and easier than those who don’t. Read all about Omega 6’s in my article here.