Monday, 17 March 2014

NRDC: Screen Test: Picking Better Sunscreens and Swimwear

NRDC: Screen Test: Picking Better Sunscreens and Swimwear

Although sunscreens have gone from the tan enhancers of the 1970s to the cancer defense of the 2000s, we have not actually changed our desire to bake to a golden brown. Our vanity is even parodied by new sunscreen products from the nonprofit Cancer for College Foundation, with names like "Sexy Hot Tan," "Forbidden Fruit" and "Sun Stroke" and featuring the not-quite-beach-ready body of Will Ferrell in various states of undress. But satire aside, we could all use some protection from the sun.

Sunblocks and Sunscreens

Covering your body in sunscreens with high SPF levels, however, will not always prevent harm to your health. The SPF ratings consider only ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation, which causes sunburn, and does not take into account ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation, known to damage skin and cause skin cancer. So when you’re at the store, search for products that have "broad-spectrum protection"; these sunscreens will effectively shield against both types of rays. And when possible, choose sunscreens that physically block the sun (using minerals such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) in preference to chemical absorbers, which can have effects on the environment and possibly on your body.

Standard lotions with mineral blockers are an opaque white when applied. Lotions withnanoparticles of these minerals are transparent upon application, but it may be best to avoid these. While Australian research in 2006 did not find that nanoparticles in sunscreens entered the body, there is other research indicating that if they did (such as through open cuts), they could reach the brain via the bloodstream.