Tag Archives: Sun Protection

Prevent Wrinkles On Your Chest and Neck

In “Gravity,” a video installation Michael Haussman, the artist, asked his subjects were to jump on a trampoline while he shot a video. He edited in post-production, steadying the subjects in the frame so that they appeared to stay still while their fat and muscles remained in motion, The result suggests a time-lapse aging, in which the subject’s body seems to age about thirty years in 15 seconds. It shows us how the aging process alters perception, changing the flawless to the flawed sometimes in a matter of very little time.

Woman smiling

Gravity: it’s skin’s biggest downfall, and causes even the most taught bodies to sag and wrinkle. However, while we can’t fight the gravity, we can fight the effects. Here are some ways to prevent wrinkles on the neck and chest.

Types of Wrinkles
With the aging process, you may begin to notice loose crepey skin and wrinkles on your chest and neck areas. Although some of this can be attributed to loss of collagen, environmental factors are largely to blame. According to AgingSkin.Net, 90-95% of all lines, wrinkles and discolorations are due to sun exposure.

While chest and neck wrinkles usually appear with age, “necklace lines,” characterized by horizontal lines on your neck can start in your twenties, or even as early as childhood. Loose and saggy skin is more often associated with age.

Reasons
There are several hypotheses as to the cause of aging on the neck and chest. One theory, suggested by Skintour.com, is that chest wrinkles are a result of sleeping position. Impression lines caused by sheets and blankets that faded quickly when you were young, may become a little less temporary as you age, due to loss of elasticity.

Treatment
Laser treatments, chemical peels and botox injections are all options for treating skin on the chest and neck. A study conducted by the Brazilian Center for Studies in Dermatology found that injecting Poly-L-Lactic acid or PLLA into the neck and chest could also improve the appearance of wrinkles. Adjusting your sleep position from your side to your back may be another option, as are breast pads and pillows.

Product
It is important to realize that most skin products are not just for your face. When you cleanse your face, be sure to include your neck, as should be the case with toners, moisturizers, masks, and scrubs. Look especially for skin care products containing antioxidants to fight damaging free radicals.

Moisturize
Never underestimate the power of a good moisturizer. Note that your neck and chest have fewer oil glands than your face, and are more prone to dryness and irritation. Moisturizers help maintain elasticity and plumpness for ease of mobility and a smoother appearance.

Sun Exposure
Protecting exposed skin from the sun is important to everyone, regardless of skin condition, Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, with 5 to 10 % titanium and zinc on law exposed skin, neck and chest included.

What do you do to prevent wrinkles on your neck and chest? Let us know!

Certain Sunscreens May Harm Corals

Coral reefs

You’re finally going on your Hawaiian vacation. You’re going to party the week away eating kalua pork and huli huli chicken, working on your hula moves and drinking exotic cocktails from coconuts with umbrellas sticking out of them. You’re going to go snorkeling in the crystal waters of Waikiki Beach and you’re going to hit the white sands of Honolulu running. And of course, you’re going to slather on that sunscreen. Right? Well, you may want to think again.

You know that your Hawaiian vacation would not be complete without checking out those amazing coral reefs. Not only are these beauties responsible for housing 500 species of algae which provide food and sustenance to Hawaii’s vast marine life, they’re also going to keep you hangin’ 10 by creating those big Hawaiian waves. Unfortunately, when it comes to these natural wonders, your sunscreen may be doing more harm than good.

Dangers of Sunscreen to Corals
Although sunscreen may be fully beneficial to humans, it may be anything but for the coral reef. Chemicals in sunscreens that wash off the body off beach goers wreak havoc on the precious reefs, bleaching the coral, hindering its growth, and often, outright killing it. In the aim of damage control to one of Hawaii’s most profitable natural resources, Hawaiian Senator Will Espero presented a bill to congress on January 20 that would ban sunscreens with octinoxate and oxybenzone from the Hawaiian island.

Sunscreen Harms Corals
The chemical and mineral filters in sunscreen, used to block the sun’s radiation are the most damaging to the reefs. They wash off the skin of surfers, swimmers, spear fishers, and even those using the beach showers, and find their way into the ocean. Oxybenzone, concentrations have been measured at 30 times the concentration level safe for the corals. Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources says, “(These chemicals) cause deformities in coral larvae making them unable to swim, settle out, and form new coral colonies. It also increases the rate at which coral bleaching occurs. This puts coral reef health at risk, and reduces resiliency to climate change.”

Woman on a hammock

Craig Downs, researcher on stunted coral growth at Haereticua Environmental Laboratory in Virginia says that oxybenzone “kills (coral.) It turns them into zombies if it doesn’t kill them outright. It makes them sterile and you do not get coral recruitment.”

Not Just A Hawaiian Problem
Hawaiian corals are not the only ones being endangered. In fact, about 80% of all corals in the Caribbean Sea have died within the past 40 years. Although factors such as temperature anomalies, predators, pollution from cruise ships and coastal runoffs all contribute to the endangerment, the fact the approximately 14,000 tons of sunscreen has been found to wash into the world’s ocean each year is not helping matters.

The Other Side
Of course, there are two sides to every story. Sunscreen manufacturers, such as L’oreal uphold the benefits of their products and oppose the ban claiming there is not enough supporting evidence. However, Espero rallies, ” We have advocates and science on our side. Fisherman, boat owners, ocean sports enthusiasts, ocean-tour operators, and environmentalists rely on the ocean for recreation and jobs. Opponents will be out there, but supporters as well.

What Can You Do?
If your wondering how to keep these creatures safe without risking your delicate complexion, you can check out the Environmental Working Group’s guide to safe sunscreen, but be aware that they do advise, “Sunscreen should be your last resort,” and urge you to consider long sleeved shirts, Uv blocking attire, sunglasses, shade and well time jaunts into the sun to keep exposure to a minimum.

So what do you think? To screen or not to screen? Let us know where you stand!

Are You Forgetting Something?

Your summer checklist probably includes a few barbecues, maybe a pool party, and a juicy beach read. It’s easy for us to remember all the fun parts of summer but below are a few things to remember when heading out for your summer fun.

Woman applying hair conditioner

Hair
We don’t often think of our hair when thinking about sun care, but prolonged exposure to the sun can lead to dry, brittle strands. Plus, color-treated hair will fade much more quickly when not properly protected. There are several products on the market these days just for hair. Look for the words “UV protection” on the bottle and shop online or check out a beauty supply store for a wider selection.

Scalp Protection
You’ve likely had a sunburn on your scalp before, so you already know how painful it can be, but it’s also important to remember that skin cancer can form anywhere on our bodies, including the scalp. Sunscreens in a spray application are ideal for reaching the scalp since they aren’t greasy like lotion formulas; however, there are also powder sunscreens you can try if your hair already tends to be oily. You can also top off your look with a hat; just make sure to keep it on while you’re in the sun!

Woman wearing sunglasses

Eyes
Some of us never leave the house without sunglasses, but for those of you who are forgetting your sunnies at home, take note! The sun is bad news for eyes. Squinting, dryness, and age spots all contribute to premature aging around the eyes and repeated exposure to the sun raises your risk of eye diseases, including cancer, cataracts, and macular degeneration. Look for sunglasses that cover as much of the eye area as possible and block 99 percent or more of both UVA and UVB rays.

Ears
Did you know that your ears are the third most likely place for skin cancer to appear? When you’re applying sunscreen to your face and body, make sure to get your ears covered. Most sunscreens need to be reapplied every two hours, and you’ll want to make sure you cover your ears again at that time.

Woman applying lip balm

Lips
Parched, sunburned lips can be a thing of the past if you keep your lips protected from the sun. Keep a lip balm with you at all times that has an SPF of at least 15 and reapply often. Make sure you avoid sparkly or shiny glosses since the reflective nature of those formulas only attracts more sun to your lips.

After-Sun Care
What you do after you’re out in the sun can be just as important as what you do before. Soothing aloe vera gel or after-sun lotions can help your skin stay hydrated and promote quicker healing of burns. You can easily grow your own aloe vera plant indoors and use the gel directly from the plant!
Woman drinking water

Hydrate
You’re already drinking your eight glasses a day, and that’s great, but in warmer weather, we lose more water through perspiration and sheer exertion. Make sure you’re sipping water throughout the day and keep plenty of water-rich foods, such as watermelon, grapes, and berries around to snack on.

The summer months don’t have to leave us dried out and burnt. Keep your skin glowing and your health intact by making sure you remember these tips!

Foods That Protect Your Skin From the Sun

We’ve all heard the saying “you are what you eat” and here’s another reason to believe that’s true. Did you know that by eating certain plant compounds, you could gain some of the same sun protection for your skin that plants themselves use? Of course, that’s not a license to go lay out in midday sun all summer without protection, but the following foods may increase your skin’s ability to ward off damage from the sun.

Berries in a basket

Berries
It’s not hard to find a reason to eat berries, but add them to the list of foods that can protect your skin from the sun. These fruits are full of vitamin C, a well-known antioxidant, which boosts collagen production in the skin.

Citrus
One medium orange not only contains about 75 percent of the RDI of vitamin C, but it also contains the skin-protecting pigment beta-carotene, which a study published by Molecular Biotechnology showed decreased skin’s sensitivity to UV rays.

Carrot juice and carrots

Carrots
The same pigment that gives the carrot its protection from the sun may also keep your skin from getting blistered. Besides being rich in beta-carotene, carrots also taste delicious dipped in hummus or mixed into homemade coleslaw.

Leafy Greens
Rich in both Vitamin C and carotenoids, leafy greens, such as leaf lettuce and spinach, protect your skin with an antioxidant double whammy! P.S. The darker the greens, the better!

Almonds

Almonds
Not only does the vitamin E in almonds help prevent and reduce the severity of sunburn, but combined with vitamin C-rich foods, the protection offered from both foods is maximized. Try tossing some almonds and strawberries into a salad for a delicious and skin-loving combo.

Cantaloupe
A summer staple, cantaloupe protects your skin by helping you stay hydrated and giving you a dose of lycopene, another naturally occurring plant pigment. Research done by the Journal of British Dermatology shows lycopene may decrease skin’s sensitivity to UV rays. Bonus: you guessed it; cantaloupe is a vitamin C powerhouse!

Bell peppers

Bell Peppers
Rich in both vitamin C and carotenoids, bell peppers are an easy-to-use food in your healthy skin diet.

Tomato Paste
Tomatoes are another lycopene-rich food but according to a 2011 study from the British Journal of Dermatology, the bioavailability of the carotenoid may be greater in processed tomato products. Try using tomato paste as a base for soups or in a sauce.

green tea

Green Tea
A 2010 review in the Archives of Dermatology suggests that a diet rich in polyphenols can defend skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. One to two cups a day of this light-tasting tea can help you take advantage of its skin-protecting

Flaxseed
Like almonds, flaxseed is full of vitamin E. Take advantage of the C & E combo by mixing some ground flaxseed into a smoothie with some kale and blueberries.

It’s important to remember that while adding these foods to your diet may prevent burns or lessen the intensity of damage done by the sun, you should always take proper caution when being outdoors for an extended period of time. Along with eating these foods, you can avoid the sun altogether during peak hours (from around 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.), wear protective clothing when you will be in direct sunlight, and wear sunscreen daily.

Sunburn Soothing Treatments

Woman with sunscreen Regardless of all the information we are given to protect our skin from the sun, sunburns do happen. Either we lose track of time, forget to reapply, maybe even nod off while sunbathing. Well, nobody’s perfect. And, if you do get a sunburn, you need to know that best way to treat it.

At first signs of a sunburn, you should act fast to cool it. If you are near water, you might want to take a quick dip to cool skin… with emphasis on the word ‘quick’! You don’t want to prolong exposure so it’s important to cool skin and then cover up and get out of the sun as quickly as possible. Then follow up by treating skin with cool compresses or ice water, but do not apply ice directly to sunburn. A cool shower or bath can be effective if you don’t stay in the water too long since it can have a drying effect. You also want to avoid harsh soap.

Moisturizing is also an important step in treating sunburn. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends moisturizing while skin is still damp from cooling and then follow up to keep the skin moist over the next few days. Avoid petroleum or oil based ointments which can trap heat and make the burn worse.

You also want to make sure you treat the inflammation as soon as possible. “At first sign of sunburn, taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin can help with discomfort and inflammation,” says Dr. Brackeen, who practices at the Skin Cancer Institute in Lubbock, TX. You can continue with the NSAIDs until the burn feels better. Over the counter cortisone cream, and aloe vera are both topical solutions that will help to this end. It is recommended you wear loose, soft clothing to avoid further skin irritation and stay out of the sun while sunburn is still active.

While healing from a sunburn, you want to drink plenty of fluids. “Burns draw fluid to the skin’s surface and away from the rest of the body, so you may become dehydrated,” explains Brackeen. Rehydrate by drinking extra liquids including water and sports drinks that will replenish electrolytes at the first sign of burning and as skin heals.

woman with sunburn
Seek medical help if there are signs of severe blistering over a large portion of your body. You may also want to see a doctor if you are experiencing fever, chills, wooziness or confusion. Do not scratch or pop blisters as this may cause infection. Signs of infection include red streaks or oozing puss.

Although skin will heal from a sunburn, the skin has still been damaged. Repeat sunburns put you at a risk for skin cancer and premature aging so prevention is really the best route. Covering exposed skin, limiting sun exposure, and using an adequate amount of broad spectrum sunblock with a sufficient SPF are all key in avoiding sunburn. The SCF offers, “Remember how bad this sunburn felt, then commit to protecting yourself from the sun every day, all year long. Learn from the burn.”

Keeping Your Skin Hydrated and Radiant

Woman with glowing skin

It is so important to keep your skin healthy. Your makeup will look better, and your skin will stay looking youthful if you work to prevent damage. Follow these skin health tips to keep your skin looking hydrated and radiant this summer!

Exfoliate a Few Times a Week
Getting rid of dull, dead skin will boost radiance and help your serums and moisturizers sink deeper into the skin. Using a cleansing brush, like a Clarisonic, can be great for daily use, but a gritty exfoliator once or twice can really make a difference in your skin’s texture. Chemical exfoliators also work great if you find traditional methods too abrasive. They can be purchased as a peel-off mask to use weekly, or in toners for daily use. Don’t forget to also exfoliate your body with a body scrub!

Woman drinking water

Drink Water
This tip is obvious, but is so important, so we’re including it anyway. Nothing will give you dull, tired looking skin like being dehydrated. This is especially important in the summer because you can get dehydrated faster. Make sure you bring your water bottle to work with you so you don’t forget to drink before lunch- getting dehydrated in the morning can zap your energy as well as your skin. Coffee in the morning will only dehydrate you! Making a conscious effort to drink water throughout the day can do a lot for your skin.

Try Out Some Vitamin C
There are so many products on the market right now in every price range that are formulated with vitamin C. Because it is an antioxidant, these products can prevent skin damage on a cellular level, and promote radiance and health! Vitamin C products also normally have a great citrus smell that can perk you up in the morning!

Use a Hyaluronic Acid Mask
There is no better way to keep skin hydrated and maintain its elasticity! Using an overnight hyaluronic mask will make your skin look smooth, plump, and healthy!

Woman applying sunscreen

Get Serious About Your Sun Protection
Wearing sunscreen on your face every day is the best way to prevent skin damage. Sun damage can make your skin dry and uneven, plus it causes premature aging, so commit to using a moisturizer with SPF 30 every day. Top it with a foundation with SPF for even more protection. If you want a little color this summer, stick with bronzing primers and glowy powders!

Pack on the Glow!
Now that strobing is popular, there are tons of products out there that will give you a glowing, radiant look. We recommend starting with a nourishing moisturizer (bonus points if it has sun protection). Then, using a brightening eye cream will help cancel out any dull blue circles that can pull your face down. Using a radiance boosting primer will help your glowing look last all day. Keep the glow coming with a light, dewy BB cream and a cream bronzer to give you a sun-kissed Finally, top everything off with a subtle wash of a shimmery bronzer across your cheeks and the bridge of your nose. You’ll be left with a radiant, healthy look that’s perfect for summer!

Top Summer Skin Care Ingredients

Woman enjoying the summer sun

Like your wardrobe, your skin care products most likely rotate depending on the season. For some, this is not a problem at all and changes in climate do not affect the skin at all. But, for most of us, a change in season requires products that target the specific skin concerns associated with that season. Perhaps the most common problem associated with summer skin is oil production. The rise in temperature can actually melt the sebum that is in your pores, making your skin look like an oil slick. The other major concern associated with summer skin is the level of sun protection. You should definitely be using sun protection year-round, but it is a must have for the summer months. Vine Vera has rounded up the most important ingredients to look for to keep your skin looking its best during the hotter months.

Woman applying sunscreen.

SPF
Okay, we already said it but it bears repeating, you should be using an SPF all year long not only in the spring/summer. But, with the sun being out for longer periods of time, it is especially important that you use a product that contains SPF. Depending on the type of sunscreen you prefer (chemical versus physical) the SPF ingredient you should look for will change. The most common, and beneficial, SPF ingredients to look for in summer skin care products are titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone and oxybenzone. Often, products contain a mixture of many SPF ingredients in order to provide broad-spectrum coverage. For summer, try looking for a mattifying sunscreen to help control your oil production. A great way to make sure you don’t forget your SPF is to buy a moisturizer with SPF of 25 of higher built in.

Salicylic acid molecule.

Beta Hydroxy Acid
Using a BHA (salicylic acid) can help minimize the amount of oil clogging your pores. A BHA exfoliant penetrates the pore and removes built-up skin cells that also clog your pores. This helps cut down on breakouts experienced during the summer. If properly formulated, BHA exfoliants can also drastically reduce, or eliminate, blackheads while also fading discoloration from sun damage or post-acne marks. This is a product that is great year-round for those with oily skin, but benefits those with normal to dry skin in the summer as well. Aim to use your BHA exfoliant two to three times weekly. There is one caveat that comes with using a BHA: though removing skin cells helps reduce breakouts, it also does remove a bit of added sun protection as it reveals new skin. This means that it is even more critical to be using a product with SPF.

Aloe vera plant on a wooden table.

Aloe
Even if you are diligent with your sunscreen use, applying with plenty of time to sink in and reapplying every two hours, a burn is a possibility. Aloe is an excellent ingredient for soothing sun- burned skin. That isn’t it’s only purpose though. Aloe is a natural anti-inflammatory and may help wounds heal more quickly. You can go straight to the source for your aloe needs, or, you can look for moisturizers with aloe or grab some aloe vera gel for sunburn relief.

Though your skin care needs are likely going to change from season to season, you don’t have to overhaul your entire bathroom counter. A few products with beneficial ingredients is all you need to help your skin deal with a change in climate. And we’ll say it again, even though it’s listed on here as a top summer ingredient, you should use an SPF every day of the year.

Best and Worst Sunscreen Ingredients

You know you need to apply sunscreen every day to protect against damage from the sun’s harmful UV rays. You may even be an individual that dutifully applies sunscreen before heading outside no matter what season it is. However, there are some ingredients in sunscreens that could be doing more harm than good. We’ve rounded up a list of the very worst sunscreen ingredients that you should avoid at all costs, and their counterparts, the very best and beneficial sunscreen ingredients.

Worst Sunscreen Ingredients

Chemical formula of Oxybenzone

Oxybenzone
Oxybenzone is almost always number one of the list of ingredients you should be avoiding when it comes to your sunscreen. This ingredient is in your sunscreen because it is a chemical that helps other chemicals penetrate the skin more effectively. However, while it does help other ingredients penetrate the skin, it also absorbs into the skin and can create allergic reactions or eczema-like symptoms. Unfortunately, that isn’t the worst of what oxybenzone does. Skin care experts and doctors believe that oxybenzone circulates in your system and mimics, blocks and changes the level of hormones in your body.

Octinoxate
This is one of the most common ingredients in sunscreen and like oxybenzone, it helps other chemicals be absorbed by your skin. Unlike oxybenzone, octinoxate is rarely a cause of allergic reactions, but it is still a dangerous ingredient. Most people wear sun protection in order to prevent signs of premature aging, but octinoxate may enhance premature aging as it creates free radicals. Additionally, octinoxate is another sunscreen ingredient that disrupts the hormone levels in the body.

Chemical formula of  Retinyl Palmitate

Retinyl Palmitate
Also known as Vitamin A, this ingredient is an antioxidant added to sunscreens. And while antioxidants are generally great for your skin, there is a major problem when it comes to retinyl palmitate. When this antioxidant is exposed to the sun, it breaks down and creates dangerous free radicals. Free radicals are destructive and may be linked to cancer as they are toxic to cells and damage your DNA. In fact, studies conducted by the Food and Drug Administration suggest that retinyl palmitate can accelerate the development of malignant cells and skin tumors.

Best Sunscreen Ingredients

Woman applying sunscreen

Zinc Oxide
Zinc oxide is a common ingredient in physical sunscreens. It is an inorganic compound that protects mainly against UVA rays. When used in a sunscreen, zinc oxide is a very finely milled powder and famously results in the white cast that physical sunscreens often leave.

Woman pouring sunscreen in her hands.

Titanium Dioxide
Titanium dioxide is the other most common ingredient in physical sunscreens. It is also widely used in the cosmetic industry and has a variety of uses. The reason that titanium dioxide is most helpful in sunscreens is that it actually absorbs UV rays produced by the sun. It is a highly stable sunscreen ingredient that helps your skin remain protected from the sun.

It does not matter if you prefer physical or chemical sunscreen, but it should be worn before exposing yourself to the sun. When reading ingredients be sure to avoid the worst ingredients to keep yourself as healthy as possible. If using  chemical sunscreen be sure to apply 20 minutes prior to sun exposure and reapply every two hours or after immersing yourself in water. And, of course don’t forget to enjoy the sunshine (safely!).

Vacation Beauty Preparation

You want to look your absolute best on your vacation, but carting around your entire skin care and beauty product collection is impractical and may even be impossible. To minimize the amount of products you need to take, you can prep your skin before you travel using some of the following ingredients.

Woman applying moisturizer.

Moisturizers
Moisturizers are especially important if you are traveling by airplane because the air in planes is so dry it literally sucks all the moisture from your skin. Prior to leaving, look for moisturizers with extremely hydrating ingredients. One of the most beneficial ingredients for hydrating your skin is hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid not only adds moisture, but it increases your skin’s ability to retain moisture which helps combat the dryness of plane cabin air. Additionally, you may want to look for vitamin E, which helps add moisture to your skin. Aloe, while not necessarily the most hydrating ingredient, does help soothe upset and uncomfortable skin, so it can be beneficial to invest in a product containing aloe before you travel.

Woman getting an exfoliating session in a spa

Exfoliants
Part of what keeps your skin looking it’s best is regular exfoliation. If you exfoliate regularly, you remove dead skin cells and help unclog your pores. You also stimulate cell turnover revealing newer, healthier skin cells. It isn’t just your face you want to exfoliate, your entire body can benefit from consistent exfoliation. Products with ingredients such as glycolic acid or salicylic acid help gently exfoliate your skin and can be used daily if desired. Scrubs, such as sugar or salt scrubs, should be used no more than 2-3 times each week and are most beneficial for your body. Exfoliate prior to leaving for vacation to get glowing skin before you leave.

Woman applying sunscreen in a beach.

Sun Protection
Whether you prefer a chemical or a mineral sunscreen, the fact is you need to be using sun protection. You should be using a sunscreen every single day (yes, even in the winter), but it becomes especially important in the summer months when there is increased sunshine and decreased skin coverage. While sun protection is an ingredient to look for in your moisturizers or body lotions, this is something that you need to use before and during travel. Don’t forget to protect your lips using a lip balm or conditioner that contains an SPF of at least 15.

While the above are beauty ingredients you want to look for in products prior to your vacation, there are some ingredients you should steer clear of before heading to your destination. Avoid any ingredients that increase your sensitivity to the sun, particularly if you are headed someplace sunny. The exception here is if you require a medication that may increase sensitivity to the sun in which case you should continue taking the medication as directed and increase your sunscreen application. Also steer clear of products that contain alcohol. Some people think alcohol is beneficial to the skin, especially in a toner. However, while alcohol may cut through the oil in skin, it dehydrates the skin in the process which leads your skin to produce more oil in an attempt to avoid dehydration.

Pack travel size beauty staples to decrease the amount of stuff you have to lug around. Avoid using brand new products that you have never tested on your skin before to ensure that you don’t have an adverse reaction during your vacation. Always apply sunscreen, drink plenty of water and of course, enjoy your vacation. Bon voyage!

Sunscreen Active Ingredients Explained – Vine Vera Reviews

You know that you are supposed to use sunscreen every single day even during those months where the sun is scarce. Using a sunscreen protects your skin against damage from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Damage can be in the form of sunburn, sun spots, premature wrinkles or even skin cancer. However, what you may not know is what exactly the active ingredients in sunscreen are or how they protect your skin against all of the aforementioned types of damage. We explain here what the active ingredients in sunscreens really do.

In a document that gives consumers important information about sunscreens, the Environmental Protection Agency states that “[b]road spectrum sunscreens often contain a number of chemical ingredients that absorb UVA and UVB radiation.” In addition to chemical compounds that provide sun protection, there are also physical compounds that work a bit differently and are frequently referred to as sun blocks. The physical compounds zinc oxide and titanium dioxide scatter, reflect and absorb both UVA and UVB rays.

Woman spraying sunscreen on her legs.

Chemical Sunscreens
The majority of people applying sunscreens are using a chemical sunscreen, and these are often the most recommended by skin experts. The compounds contained in chemical sunscreens are approved by the FDA include:

  • Aminobenzoic acid (PABA) – Provides minimal UVA protection extensive UVB protection.
  • Avobenzone – Provides extensive UVA protection and limited UVB protection.
  • Cinoxate – Provides limited UVA and extensive UVB protection.
  • Dioxybenzone – Provides considerable UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Ecamsule – Provides extensive UVA protection limited UVB protection.
  • Homosalate – Provides minimal UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Menthyl anthranilate – Provides considerable UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Octocrylene – Provides limited UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Octyl methoxycinnamate – Provides limited UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Octyl salicylate – Provides minimal UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Oxybenzone – Provides considerable UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Padimate O – Provides limited UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Phenylbenzimidazole – Provides limited UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Sulisobenzone – Provides considerable UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Trolamine salicylate – Provides limited UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.

The good news about chemical sunscreens is you do not have to worry about finding one with extensive UVA and extensive UVB protection because the vast majority of chemical sunscreens contain combinations of chemical compounds so that you are as protected as possible. This is why they are labeled as broad-spectrum sunscreens. Skin care experts suggest using an SPF of 30 (or higher) and always making sure that it provides broad-spectrum coverage.

Woman applying sunscreen on her shoulders.

Physical Sunscreens
There are currently two active ingredients approved by the FDA. They are:

  • Titanium dioxide – Provides considerable UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Zinc oxide – Provides extensive protection from both UVA and UVB rays.

One of the reasons that these active ingredients are not as popular as their chemical counterparts is the application, the appearance and the potential for breakouts. Still, these physical ingredients are beneficial protection from both UVA and UVB rays and these work immediately upon application whereas chemical sunscreens take about 20 to 30 minutes to absorb into the skin.

Skin care experts, while often recommending chemical sunscreens, remind you that the only effective sunscreen is the one that you wear. Choose the type of sun protection that makes the most sense for your skin and your lifestyle and apply before any sun exposure.