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Before you apply sunscreen - read this urgent report!

by , 14 October 2013

Raise your hand if you never leave the house without sunscreen. Good job! It's a great step to protect your skin from the harsh African sun. Now raise your hands if you've ever read the label on the back and understood it. That's what we thought! Few people do and they could be putting themselves and their family in harm's way…

Always wondered whether sunscreen really works?

Wonder no more.

A new study that looked at sunscreen on a molecular level found it “offers 100% protection against all three types of skin cancer – basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma. They also found sunscreen prevents damage to a key anti-cancer gene known as p53,” reports medicalnewstoday.com.

But not all sunscreens are created equal…

Sunscreen labels – what you need to check

Over in the US, the FDA is cracking down on the promises sunscreen and products that contain sunscreen like lip balm and moisturisers make, writes cancer.org.

And it’s doing so for good reason. It wants consumers to know the real risks involved before they buy a product.

Thanks for this crackdown, products containing sunscreen now:

  • Have to back up claims of being ‘broad spectrum’ (protecting from both UVA and UVB rays) with testing.
  • Must carry a skin cancer and ageing warning if the SPF is lower than 15. The same applies if it’s not a broad spectrum sunscreen.
  • Can’t claim to be water or sweat proof. Any claim of water resistance must specify for how long the effect lasts. 
  • May not use the term ‘sunblock’.

While these changes haven’t affected products on our shelves just yet, it’s important to note the FDA’s concerns and scrutinise labels accordingly. This way, you’ll know what you’re putting on your skin and how effective it really is.

How to pick the best sunscreen for your skin

So what should you choose?

WebMD advises you stick to a sunscreen that:

  • Is broad spectrum
  • Contains either ecamsule, avobenzone, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, sulisobenzone or zinc oxide. They offer you optimum UVA protection.
  • Is SPF 15 or higher. That’s because the SPF number multiples your normal burning time by that amount. (In other words, if you normally burn in 12 minutes, SPF 15 multiplies that by a factor of 15. This means you could go 180 minutes before burning.)
  • Offers water resistance – just remember, the label should tell you how long this effect lasts.
  • Doesn’t contain skin irritants like dioxybenzone, oxybenzone or sulisobenzone. This is especially important for kids and people with sensitive skins.

So there you have it: Just because you won’t leave the house without sunscreen doesn’t mean you’re protecting your skin the best way. Make sure you check the label closely for maximum protection. You should also eat foods that help your body protect itself from the sun naturally.

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