1. What are the biggest new advances in sunscreen in the past year? What do these advances mean for the consumer?
In recent years more efficient and safe sun screening ingredients have been developed for improved skin protection. These sunscreens have highly efficient absorption or reflecting capabilities throughout the ultraviolet wavelengths, and in some instances infrared wavelengths. Although they are already in use in Europe, they are currently being approved by the FDA for their use in the United States.
Cosmetic manufacturers are incorporating sunscreen ingredients as a part of their formula giving dual benefit to the consumers. In this way consumers still benefit from the active ingredients and are also protected by the sunscreen present in them.
More clothing manufacturers are adopting sunscreen technology into the clothing fabrication. For example there are particular clothing choices available that have SPF of 30 for a T-shirt or a porous T-shirt with an SPF of 4. Now many of the clothing industries are including SPF factors number as a standard in their specification tags.
The future holds much promise in sunscreen technology and even better in efficacy and safety. These advances will include development of nonabsorbent material to boost SPF, encapsulation of UV absorbers, and microfine organic particles that may improve efficacy and safety of sun protective products. These improvements are much needed because of alarming thinning of the ozone layer.
The development of a sunscreen that could prevent UV-induced immune suppression will be a major advancement, often referred to as the immune protection factor (IPF) of sunscreen, is currently under development. However, there is research available now that shows that sunscreens are already providing protection against pre-cancers. One such study from the New England Journal of Medicine shows that sunscreens prevent actinic keratosis, the earliest stage in the development of skin cancer.
2. Explain the various types of sunscreen ingredients, including Zinc Oxide, Parsol, etc. How do they differ in terms of the protection that they offer? Is one ingredient better than the other? Why?
Sunscreens are mainly divided in to chemical/organic or Physical/inorganic ingredients. Chemical/organic sunscreens which include benzophenones, oxybenzone, sulisobenzone, methyl anthranilate and avobenzone (Parsol 1789). Physical/inorganic sunscreens include titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. The efficacy of a sunscreen products are mainly depending on their sun protection factor (SPF). The SPF of a sunscreen is calculated by comparing the amount of time needed to produce a sunburn on sunscreen-protected skin to the amount of time needed to cause a sunburn on unprotected skin. Inorganic sunscreens such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide tend to give a slightly whitish color when applied to skin, some baseball players prefer zinc oxide. Thus the products containing organic ingredients are much preferred by the consumers. However products containing titanium dioxide, zinc oxide and avobenzone (Parsol 1789) provide good broad spectrum UVA protection.
3. What are the advantages to each sunscreen delivery method? How do sprays, lotions and wipes differ in terms of the protection they offer?
Sunscreen products consist of a delivery vehicle containing one or more active sunscreen ingredients. When applied to the skin, these sunscreen intercept solar ultraviolet (UV) rays before they can damage the underlying skin. Today, sunscreen products are available in many forms including creams, ointments, gels, lotions and wax sticks etc. The type of sunscreen you choose is a matter of personal choice. The efficacy of a sunscreen depends on its binding potential to the skin therefore must reach the area in order to work.
4. In general, how does one go about determining the proper SPF level?
Generally, SPF 15 or higher is recommended since it provides broad-spectrum coverage against fairly good coverage. In higher SPFs, such as an SPF of 30, 97 percent of sun burning rays are deflected, while an SPF of 15 indicates 93 percent deflection and an SPF of 2 equals 50 percent deflection. This is a sign wave curve. Therefore there is less percent improvement in the protection factor as one increases the SPF. An SPF of 15% only implies protection to UVB. AS you must be sure there is also UVA sunscreen so you get broad protection
5. How often should sunscreen be reapplied? Why?
Sunscreens should be applied to dry skin 15-30 minutes before going outdoors so the sunscreen has the ample time to bind to the skin. When applying sunscreen, pay particular attention to the face, ears, hands and arms, and coat the skin liberally. One ounce, enough to fill a shot glass, is considered the amount needed to cover the exposed areas of the body properly. Be careful to cover exposed areas completely – a missed spot could mean patchy, painful sunburn. Don’t forget that lips get sunburned too, so apply a lip balm that contains sunscreen, preferably with an SPF of 15 or higher.
Sunscreens should be re-applied every two hours or after swimming or perspiring heavily. Even so-called water resistant sunscreens may lose their effectiveness after 80 minutes in the water. Sunscreens rub off as well as wash off, so if you’ve towel-dried, reapply waterproof sunscreen for continued protection. Don’t forget that sun exposure occurs all the time, even in a cloudy day. Eighty percent of the sun’s ultraviolet rays pass through the clouds. You may think walking on shaded area on a snow day is safe. Remember the, sun ray’s has great reflective powers nearly 17 percent on sand and 80 percent on snow. So put on your sunscreen and sunglasses in winter season as well.
What is the most important thing that the consumer needs to know about sunscreen?
Regardless of skin type, a broad-spectrum (protects against UVA and UVB rays) sunscreen with SPF of at least 15 should be used year-round. Also sunscreens should be water resistant, so they cannot be easily removed by sweating or swimming. By knowing how to apply and applying sunscreens every day can protect you and help prevent premature aging, wrinkling and skin cancer. Regardless of the skin type, everyone must be sun smart by following these sun protection guidelines:
• Get in to the shade whenever possible
• Avoid outdoor activities between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are at its peak.
• Follow the “Shadow Rule”. That is if your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun’s damaging rays are at their strongest and you are likely to sunburn; and
• Avoid tanning beds.
• Use appropriate sunscreen & clothing to maximize protection.