With the temperatures already into the 90’s and the pools opening I feel it is a good idea to cover the two types of sunscreens available, their pros, and cons, and how to choose the one for you and your family in this situation.
Before that let us discuss what UVA, UVB, and UVC are and why we need to be concerned with them. Ultraviolet (UV) light waves are not visible by the human eye and are classified by wavelength. UVA has the longest wavelength where UVC has the shortest.
UVC and some UVB are filtered out by the Ozone layer of the atmosphere, which leaves the remaining UVB and all the UVA to affect your exposed skin. UVB with its shorter wavelength only penetrates the top layers of your skin causing inflammation and damage (aka sunburn); whereas UVA rays can cause damage deeper in the skin which could lead to cellular changes (cancer potential).
Two types of sunscreens
The two types of sunscreens (Mineral and Chemical) work through two different mechanisms of protecting the skin from damage. Mineral sunscreens stay on the surface of the skin and physically block the penetration of both UVA and UVB rays through scattering and deflecting from the skin.
Chemical sunscreens penetrate the skin and absorb the UV rays. Once absorbed the rays are converted into heat and released through the skin.
Which type of sunscreen you choose should be dependent upon not only the time/area you will be but also the activities in which you and your family will be participating. Review these pros/cons for both mineral and chemical sunscreens to help you make the appropriate decision.
Mineral sunscreens pros/cons
Effective as soon as they are applied
Block both UVA and UVB rays
Not absorbed into the body
Will not clog pores
Must be liberally applied (full coverage of skin)
Visible as a white film on skin
Can be rubbed, sweated, washed off easily
Loose powder or spray-on types can be inhaled which can injure the lungs
Chemical sunscreens pros/cons
Less product needed to fully cover area
Product is easier to spread on skin
Not visible once applied
Some UVA exposure could happen
Needs time to become active once applied
Can exacerbate rosacea, acne, hyperpigmentation
Need for reapplication is dependent upon the amount of UVA/UVB rays absorbed, with no real indicator as to when the time for reapplication has approached.
Absorbed into the body with no completed studies showing the effects of these compounds on the body in short term or long-term spans of time.
Here are some things to consider as well with your choice:
Read the ingredients
Mineral – choose ones with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as they have the most studies on their safety and effectiveness
Chemical – avoid Oxybenzone (linked to numerous health risks)
Lotions are the best form
Sprays can be more convenient, but lotions dramatically reduce potential inhalation and lung exposure
Use a mineral type if you are going to be in direct sun for the majority of the time, but if you are going to be active in the water, or sweating/moving throughout the day, then a chemical type would be a better choice
It is better to apply a lower SPF lotion correctly than a high SPF incorrectly. Remember if it is a chemical sunscreen, there is a 20-minute wait period before it is fully active.
At least every two hours place another coat on; especially if sweating or swimming and using mineral sunscreen or a chemical sunscreen in direct sun.
I hope this helps you and your family in deciding which type of sunscreen is best for the situation you will be in and remember the best for today may not be the best for tomorrow.
Please feel free to reach out to us at Info@Crosettis.com, or your care provider, with any questions about this article. Let me know if you would like me to write about a topic of your interest.