The Truth About SPF Levels
With most recent scientific studies warning us of global warming and a compromised ozone layer, is it any wonder that sunscreen companies are scrambling to get their products in front of consumers? Is it any wonder these companies are less than truthful with the public about the effectiveness and safety of their products? And is it such a surprise they are cutting corners with little regard to ACTUAL consumer safety?
Anything Over 50 SPF and You Have Been Duped
The misconception that most consumers have is the old adage "bigger is better". When it comes to sunscreen, the higher SPF (really anything over 50 SPF) has only a minor degree of improved protection over the lower SPF products. For example, 50 SPF offers a 98% protection from UVB. If you up the ante and go for the 100 SPF you see just an ONE percent improvement in protection. Many people mistakenly believe that the 100 SPF will be fully double the protection of the 50 SPF. Unfortunately, it does not work that way. This is dangerous because of the altered behavior of a person that believes themselves to be "better protected" from UVB rays. These people are much more likely to overexpose themselves, thinking they are better protected from the sun.
Another key factor that so many people fail to consider is the UVA rays. As manufacturers dump chemicals into their product to boost the SPF rating (the products ability to block UVB), they are compromising the products ability to protect the consumer from equally harmful UVA. The chemicals used to increase a products SPF do nothing to shield the user from UVA rays. UVA penetrates much deeper into the body, where it forms free radicals, which cause cancer. It must be understood that the higher the SPF rating, the poorer the product will perform in blocking the UVA rays. The balance is just not there. When manufacturers start adding so many chemicals to achieve the higher SPF, they sacrifice the overall quality of the product as a "sunscreen".
The Big Lie
Many Americans blindly trust the FDA to do the job and make sure the products we are buying are safe and represented honestly. The truth of the matter is the FDA has no knowledge of the cancer risks in ANY of the ingredients used to manufacture sunscreens. They grandfathered the ingredients in the 1970's and still haven't properly proven or disproven any of them. Couple that with the trouble of many sunscreen manufacturers blatantly lying to the consumers. It is staggering. In a recent report from Consumer Reports, many well-known sunscreen products were tested for SPF level and fell embarrassingly short of what they advertised. Imagine finding out that the Banana Boat Kids with an advertised SPF 50 was tested at only SPF 8! It is infuriating, to say the least. Sadly, this is a widespread problem and it is important to do your homework before trusting your health to the advertising ethics of a company.
The Big Burn
Something many consumers fail to consider when selecting a sunscreen lotion is the possible harmful effects all those additives and chemicals may have on their body. There are two basic types of sunscreen; mineral and chemical. This is in reference to their "active ingredients". With zinc oxide being the safest overall choice for sun protection with minimal absorption and side effects. Once you get away from the basic mineral compound, you start delving into a land wrought with chemicals. These chemicals have many terrible ways to wreak havoc in our bodies. Some act to disrupt hormones and will cause problems with estrogen or testosterone levels in adolescent children. Others can cause tissue damage, allergic reactions, and even damage thyroid function. These chemicals seep right into our skin BY DESIGN! Oxybenzone is the most commonly used chemical and is found is 96% of the population. It is an endocrine disruptor, linked to reduced sperm count and endometriosis.
Some additives may even be photoreactive... meaning exposure to the sun actually causes them to speed up the harm they cause to our body. Vitamin A, for example, is added to sunscreens, as well as many cosmetics and skin care (even food is fortified with it). Vitamin A actually builds up a toxicity in our bodies and can cause a great deal of damage and even speed the growth of cancer cells. The tragedy in all of this is that consumers believe they are being protected. Even with the higher SPF however, they must still be applied as often as every two hours. This means with each new application more and more harmful chemicals are being delivered to their body.
The issue is summed up quite well by M. Berwick Ph.D. of the University of New Mexico, who is quoted by the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics to say:
"Sunscreens protect against sunburn, but there is no evidence that they protect against basal cell carcinoma or melanoma. Problems lie in the behavior of individuals who use sunscreens to stay out longer in the sun than they otherwise would. Vitamin D inhibition is, at this stage, unlikely due to insufficient use by individuals. Safety of sunscreens is a concern, and sunscreen companies have emotionally and inaccurately promoted the use of sunscreens."
So the question still remains, what is the best and cleanest way to protect our skin from harmful UV rays? Opting for a Zinc Oxide based sunscreen is a good start. Next, run through the ingredients list and keep an eye out for harmful chemicals such as Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, and Homosalate. Natural sunscreens are on the rise with some such as our Zinc It Over Sunscreen Facial Mist offering all the effectiveness as higher SPF products without all the yucky chemicals.
To learn more about our revolutionary formula click here.