Decoding the Label
Suncream, sunscreen, sunblock, broad-spectrum, UVA, UVB, the terminology alone can be mind-boggling, let alone the extensive ingredient list. What does 'paraben-free' mean? Do I want my sunscreen to be 'non-comedogenic'? What's the difference between physical and chemical sunscreen? We decode the label here.
Words by Emma Spencer-Smith
Sunscreens are classified as either physical or chemical and differ in that physical sunscreens deflect harmful sunrays, whereas chemical sunscreens absorb sunrays. Both types also utilise different ingredients to filter UV rays, with physical sunscreens using zinc and titanium oxide, and chemical sunscreens using a plethora of ingredients such as oxybenzone, avobenzone and octinoxate.
When buying a suncream look for labels that include the phrases – broad-spectrum, multi spectrum or UVA/UVB protection, as they include ingredients that protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
Find more information about suncream and sun safety tips, visit: www.ewg.org/2015sunscreen/top-sun-safety-tips
Environmental Working Group’s recommended suncreams:
Reaching the deeper skin layers UVA rays contribute to, and possibly even initiate the development of skin cancers.
The main cause of skin reddening and sunburn, UVB rays have been shown to play a key role in skin cancer development.
Preservatives used to prevent the growth of mould and bacteria, and prolong a products’ shelf life. There is some concern of a link between paraben-use and cancer, resulting in some countries limiting the use of paraben.
In physical sunscreens, the two main UV filters – zinc and titanium oxide are formulated into nanoparticles to aid skin coverage.
Layering on sunscreen can often lead to blocked pores and acne. Look for products labeled ‘non-comedogenic’ which use ingredients that do not clog pores.
A derivative of vitamin A, it has been shown to potentially speed up the development of skin tumours and in sunlight can form free radicals that damage DNA.
A chemical UV filter, oxybenzone has been shown to penetrate the skin, cause skin allergies and may disrupt hormones.
Another chemical UV filter, octinoxate readily penetrates the skin and has been shown to disrupt hormones.
Thanks to Goddess Garden Organics there is now a natural suncream on the market that is packed with pure ingredients, is truly sheer and even smells good. The mineral reef-safe lotion provides exceptional coverage for those on the go since the active ingredients – zinc oxide and titanium dioxide – physically reflect UV rays off skin (which means you don’t have to wait until it absorbs to work), to provide better and faster sun protection. Started by a mum over ten years ago because her daughter was allergic to conventional products,this natural suncream comes in Everyday, Sport, Kids, Baby and Facial versions, so you can safely have fun in the sun. www.goddessgarden.com
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