For decades now, we’ve been told to apply sunscreen whenever we go outside. And it makes good sense. After all, skin cancer is a serious concern, as half of all cancer in the United States is some form of skin cancer, with melanoma being the most serious.
And that’s just the beginning of the issue when it comes to excess sun exposure. Too much time in the sun can also lead to heat stroke an heat rash, not to mention destroying the skin’s dermis, causing it to lose its resilience and become thin and weak, thus creating sags, creases, and wrinkles.
But, as we’ve been telling you time and again, sunscreen itself is not the end-all be-all it is purported to be. Not only does the majority of products on the market contain dangerous, toxic ingredients, but now a study from the International Journal of Cosmetic Sciences finds that water-resistant sunscreens fail to protect against UVA rays.
Related Article: How to Apply Sunscreen Effectively
There are two main UV light rays from the sun: UVA and UVB. UVA rays are more prone to age the skin, while UVB rays are more likely to cause sunburn.
In the study published in May 2015, the researcher tested water-resistant sunscreens’ ability to protect against both UVA and UVB rays in salt water, chlorinated water (i.e. a pool), and tap water. He found that most products worked well when they were immersed in water, but broke down when they had to perform in air/water.
In other words, if you were under water, the sunscreen did it’s job, but if you were in and out of the water or even standing waist deep in water, coverage was questionable at best. This problem was even more pronounced when tested in salt water. (Bad news for all you ocean lovers!)
He concluded, “Globally, a higher loss of filters is observed in the UVA than the UVB, which is attributed to more UVA filter loss or degradation, and thus resulting in a decreased protection in the UVA.”
My advice is of course to continue to use sunscreen, but be sure to reapply frequently and to use a product that relies on zinc oxide (rather than man-made chemicals) as it primary source of sun protection.
Next, I strongly suggest arming yourself with internal sun protection as well in the form of antioxidants. My favorites include vitamins C and E, alpha lipoic acid (ALA), and lutein.
A 1998 study found that volunteers who took vitamin C and vitamin E every day for 50 days were able to protect themselves from sunburn more effectively than those volunteers taking one or no antioxidants. A similar study from the International Journal of Cosmetic Surgery looked at the effects of alpha lipoic acid (ALA), vitamins C and E, and lutein on women with sun damage.
Participants took 5 mg of ALA, 10 mg of vitamin E, 90 mg of vitamin C, and 6 mg of lutein or placebo. After two months, those women who took the antioxidants had lower levels of free radicals in their blood, as well as better skin hydration than women who took the placebo.
So up your antioxidants, slather on a zinc oxide sunscreen (and reapply frequently), and get out there and enjoy the sun safely!