Too much time in the sun? Findings at a big box store.

A brief introduction: Like most people, I know storl from another forum. I admit that I probably don’t have much outdoor experience as you (the readers). But I’m fairly good at relaying info that might have skipped you. While storl might give you the latest and greatest technical review with videos, I’ll stick to the basics. Hopefully, here’s the first of many articles?

Are some parts of your body darker than others? I hate tan lines. When I head out for an outing, I’m always out of sun screen. Skin cancer is far from my mind. I don’t want to get burned.

I stopped by Target to pick up sun screen. I left with more questions than answers. Maybe I’m old but I remember when you just had to pick the bottle with the highest SPF (sun protection factor) rating. SPF extends the time it takes damage your skin in the sun. A SPF of 30 would extend the normal amount of time that your skin damages by 30 times. At Target, I was looking at SPF ratings from 30 to 100+. The insane ratings reminded me of the old computer processing arms race or the marketed “horsepower” in cars. Each company touted its own technologies (Neutrogena’s Helioplex and Spectrum +, Banana Boat Sport’s Avotriplex, and Aveeno’s line).

To achieve the high SPF levels, most companies listed these chemicals as their active ingredients: octisalate, octinoxate, avobenzone, homosalate, octocrylene, and oxybenzone. I remember reading that Neutrogena’s Helioplex (and other similar chemicals) are intercalculating agents but I couldn’t find the source and article for confirmation of this article. Bad memory? Crazy talk? Well, They work by getting in-between your skin’s DNA and block the absorption of sunlight. I’m concerned about the possible mutagenic risks from any DNA intercalculating agents. According to wikipedia, helioplex is neutrogena’s formulation of Avobenzone and Oxybenzone. Regardless of how it works, I’m hesistant to have rub and absorb more chemicals than I have to. As with any information on the web, please conduct your own research into the chemicals before you use.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Coopertone Sensitive Skin that had the main active ingredient of zinc oxide. It is the stuff you see lifeguards wear on their noses on movies. Amazon sells fancy (and quite pricey) micronized zinc oxide sun screen. These companies ground up zinc oxide into a fine powder. These lotions dry as a protective barrier on your skin. They never get absorbed into the skin. The chemicals never get inside you. The drawbacks are that they are easier to wash off and might leave a white residue on your skin/face. This Coopertone Sensitive Skin option might provide the benefits of the zinc oxide at the price of normal sun screen. (In technical terms, you have the choice of sunscreen of a chemical blocker (the former) and a physical blocker (the latter).)

So what do you for look for besides SPF? First and foremost, you need to check if the product protects both UVA and UVB. UVB (surface tissue) protection prevents you from getting tan but the underlying UVA (deep tissue) damage could be more severe. Other sun screen features include sweatproof, non-greasy, water resistant, hypoallergenic, fragrance free, and PABA free. I also recommend getting something not oily. I read many positive reviews on Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Formula for being almost unnoticeable. A good option would be to pick the children’s version or the hypoallergenic versions because they’re the strictest (and hopefully safest) products.

No sun screen conservation is complete without discussing Vitamin D (or its lack thereof). Interestingly enough, when your body is exposed to sunlight, your body produces vitamin D. In David Servan-Schreiber’s Anticancer, he recommends exposing yourself to 20 minutes of sunlight every day for a healthy (and cancer fighting) body. Unfortunately, Vitamin D deficiency has been on the rise with our enclosed lifestyles. My friend commented that no sun gets through his wife’s face because of impregnable SPF in her makeup. Maybe I just need to soak it all in.

I look forward to suggestions on what you use – forums

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