Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Organic Sunscreen Q&A from the Lavish & Lime Facebook Forum

Ever wonder what the best sunscreen SPF is? Which is the safe sunscreen? What's the link between sunscreen and cancer? In late June we held a Healthy Summer Skincare Q&A Forum on on our Facebook page. Fans of our page asked these and other common sunscreen questions.

Their questions were answered directly by Dr. Tony Kovacs, D.O., N.D., B.Ac., executive vice president and science & technical officer of Skin Elements USA, makers of Soleo Organics natural sunscreen. There was so much good information - in easy-to-understand language - generated through this exchange, we felt it might be helpful to share it. This is essentially a transcript of the sunscreen portion of the forum.

Q. (Kristina Z.)
How long does it take for sunscreen to properly absorb into the skin?
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs)
Kristina, sunscreen should absorb into your skin within 5-10 minutes max. The chemical sunscreens take a little longer to work, they need about 20 -30 minutes to absorb and begin their action, physical sunscreens work a little faster.

Q. (Athena TDR.)
What is the best SPF to give you proper protection?
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs)
The best SPF is SPF 30+, any number above that range is misleading. SPF 30+ gives 96-98% protection from UV.

Q. (Andrea T.) I've been using one of the top SPF 30/complete spectrum mineral sunscreens (on EWG's list) on my toddler, but he is getting a bit of a tan. I think I'm applying enough based on the whitish cast the sunscreen leaves on his skin, so am not sure what I'm doing wrong. Help!
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs)
No sunscreen protects 100 % so no matter what you use, there will always be some UV that gets through. SPF 30+ gives 96-98% protection from UV (highest).
You are not doing anything wrong, the most important thing to do apart from applying sunscreen in the first place is to make sure you reapply frequently enough, with children, that should be every hour.

Q. (Melissa WOB.): I would also like to know if I'm applying the sunscreen (California Baby) wrong on my children..they are starting to get a tan..is there something I'm doing wrong? Also is mineral based sunscreens any better? Thanks!
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs) No sunscreen blocks 100%, the most any sunscreen will do (Soleo is in this group) is 96-98%. As a result, no matter how diligently you apply, between 2-4% of UV light will still get through to your skin (or baby’s). I am not familiar with the efficacy of California Baby, but I do know they use titanium and titanium degrades rapidly in the presence of light (it is a chemical sunscreen – 70% of its action is chemical ie absorbing UV rays, and only 30% is physical ie reflecting). Companies often like to refer to Titanium as a physical block but it is not a true one, its action is predominantly chemical and offers all the associated side effects with the rest of the chemical sunscreens ie free radical production, DNA damage, oestrogen mimicking, endocrine disruption, etc. You are better off using a zinc only sunscreen (eg. Soleo) so that you don’t have to deal with the issues of using chemical sunscreens or ones that contain nano products. Make sure you reapply regularly. If your kids are out in the sun every day for extended periods of time, they will tan, even if you are using the best sunscreen out there. Nothing blocks 100% unfortunately.

Q. (Lynette K.) What's the difference between a physical sunscreen and a chemical sunscreen?
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs)
Physical sunscreens (zinc) reflect the UV light and chemical sunscreens absorb (toxic). Physical sunscreens reflect or scatter light and of the two physical sunscreens commonly mentioned, Zinc is the only true one. Titanium only reflects 30% of UV light and absorbs the remaining 70% thereby making it more of a chemical sunscreen than a physical one. Chemical sunscreens tend to have similar side effects. They offer the same sort of issues, some more than other depending upon the chemical itself. In short they produce free radicals (very volatile ones), damage DNA, mimic oestrogen in the body and disrupt the endocrine system. Some effect the immune system and others sensitise the skin and can create reactions.

Q. (Rochelle MK.) Hi there I have heard a lot of controversy surrounding sunscreen and the chemicals in them possibly being linked to cancer. Is there any truth to this and should I be concerned about using sunscreen on my children?
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs)
Yes yes yes. Avoid the chemicals, use zinc.

Q. (Rochelle MK.) Which chemicals are ok and which are bad?
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs) This is really easy. Zinc is good – the rest chemicals. Zinc is the only true physical block the rest act as chemical sunscreens whereby they absorb UV light and a s a result create a number of bad resulting compounds and free radicals. Stick with Zinc.

Q. (Marla JV.) Is it true that once you are at an SPF of 30, any higher is really not any more effective (ex: 30 vs 50 vs 70)? Thanks.
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs)
Yes, that is true, it's a myth and misleading advertsing. SPF numbers over 30+ do not give you any more protection, its a bit of a myth, SPF 50,60, 70, etc. Children should use the highest spf that is effective, ie 30+.

Q. (Kathy W.)
I have a question relating to using sunscreen along with insect repellent. I've heard that one or the other isn't as effective if combined. Is there any truth to this? Should I be applying sunscreen first, waiting a certain amount of time then the ...insect repellent or vice versa? Thanks in advance!
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs) I am not sure because it depends upon which insect repellant you use (ie ingredients) and of course which sunscreen you use. Lets assume you are using a good quality insect repellant (deet free etc) and similarly a good sunscreen (Soleo). I would suggest you apply the sunscreen first, wait 20 minutes letting the sunscreen fully absorb and then apply your insect repellant over the top. This should work without one affecting the other. Of course, I can be more accurate if I knew the ingredients in your insect repellant.

Q. (Ross R.)
I too would like to know about sunscreen and is it nanoparticles that are linked to cancer?
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs)
No it is the chemicals in the sunscreens, the nano stuff makes it worse.

Q. (Erin AH.) What about the issue of nano particles in physical sunscreens. Should we be concerned?
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs) The nano issue is a concerning one with little or no information available on how they really work once the get into the body. More and more information is becoming available on this matter but I feel it will be a number of years before we are more informed as to the dangers. There is a web site, www.foe.org that has really pioneered the anti nano issue and they offer a siginificant amount of information on this topic.

Q. (Vic M.)
What are your thoughts on the organic sunscreen products that most eco tourism parks require you to use? Is it a tourist scam or are they good for both the human and the aquatic creatures?
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs)
No, organic sunscreens are the preferred choice so they do not harm the environment. Biodegradable sunscreens do not affect the ecosystems like the chemical stuff does.

Q. (Lynne B.) I have a question about the benefits of sunshine's vitamin D versus the risk of skin cancer. (This isn't necessarily just about kids). I was reading some Cancer Society news last year where they were slightly changing their advice to say a little bit of sunscreen-less exposure each day (I can't remember - under 20 min...utes perhaps?) was good for the cancer-fighting, bone-building vitamins we get from the sun. Any thoughts on that?
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs)
The important thing is not to burn, everyone needs a little sun exposure.

Q. (Penni B.) If a child does get sunburned, is there any benefit to after sun cream, or is it just that it is soothing?
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs)
Aloe vera is your best thing and then Marine Mist (Soleo product, lol) must repair after damage and exposure to excessive dryness.

Q. (Brian W.) I find that in the early a.m. when I put sunscreen on (I work outdoors all day) , that it gets rubbed off quite rapidly on branches and my clothing. Is there enough soaked in with one coating that I shouldn't be putting on layer after layer all day? Also I empty waste receptacles in the parks I care for and I am constantly washing my hands with sanitizer. Then when I rub my arms etc. does that wash off the sunscreen to a point where I have to replace the sunscreen?
A. (Dr. Tony Kovacs) Hard one to answer because I don’t know which sunscreen you are using. If it is a chemical sunscreen then chances are that most of it is rubbing off and you have very little left on the skin to act effectively. if your hands are wet and you are rubbing your face, again, chances are that you are removing the sunscreen from your skin. If the sunscreen is not water resistant, then the likelihood of this happening is much greater.
Using a chemical sunscreen, the performance and protection is compromised, add to that the rubbing off and the exposure to water, you would have a reduced action available to you.

Our thanks to Dr. Kovacs for participating in this forum. Soleo Organics sunscreen - in three sizes - plus a selection of other top rated natural sunscreen brands are available at online eco boutique Lavish & Lime. If you have any thoughts or ideas - even questions - regarding the Q&A above, please leave a comment below. We'd love to hear from you!

1 comment:

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