Choosing a SUNSCREEN

The most important feature of a sunscreen is that it can be used EVERYDAY!!

Sunscreens can be divided into 2 categories.  SUNSCREENS and SUNBLOCKS.  Sunscreens work by absorbing harmful UV rays before they reach the skin.  Sunblocks work by reflecting the UV off the skin.  Many sunscreens are a mixture of both.

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor.  It is measured in relation to UVB rays only and tells us nothing about how much UVA rays are blocked.  In Australia, sunscreens are only allowed to advertise their SPF up to 30+, even though they are really much higher.  This is because there is no increase in protection above an SPF of 30.

Your sunscreen MUST cover UVA and UVB rays, ie. be broad spectrum.

Sunscreen acts like a filter.  It does not stop all  UV rays.  You need to Slip, Slap, Slop, Sunnies and seek the Shade!!

Sunscreen has been shown to:

  • reduce the occurrence  of actinic keratosis, which are precursors for SCC.
  • still be effective when used in older people.
  • reduce the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer.
  • reduce the number of moles developed by children.
  • reduce photo-ageing.

Disadvantages of sunscreen:

  • reduces the amount of vitamin D in the body, hence  it is important to get this level checked.
  • causes blocked pores and acne- if your skin is prone to acne then choose a sunscreen that is oil free.
  • causes irritant dermatitis- always test the sunscreen before you purchase it to make sure you don't react to it.  There are some sunscreens that specifically designed for sensitive skin.

Additional protection can come from TOPICAL Vitamin C.  Make sure it is in a stable form.  Taking it orally is useless for the skin as none of it will reach the skin.

Topical niacinamide (vit B3) is very useful as it can increase the protective barrier of the skin, helps the local immune system in the skin and can minimise the oiliness of the skin.

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