Misunderstanding Sunscreens and Sunblocks

suncreamSunscreen products or sunblocks and sun creams help protect your skin from the damage caused by the ultraviolet rays when staying under the sun for very long periods. But it seems that there is little of what most people actually know about sunscreen products found in the market today. And the fact of the matter is that it is not entirely their fault.

Sunscreen Facts Misleading

The main reason why most people seem to know little about sunscreens lie in the fact that what is being offered to them may actually be misleading. Most sunscreens in the market are being marketed as to protect the skin from the harmful ultraviolet B rays from the sun. UVB rays cause sunburn and become stronger at times when the sun shines the most which is at midday and in the summer.

But most sunscreen formulas available in the market do not protect against UVA rays which make up 95 percent of the UV spectrum. UVA rays can penetrate through glass and remains in constant strength all day and all year long. Both UV rays can contribute to skin wrinkling, skin damage as well as skin cancer. But with sunscreens that do offer protection from UVA rays, there are also issues concerning ingredient safety that seem to follow them. This can lead people to become quite confused.

SPF Protection

Another cause of confusion among consumers may settle around SPF or Sun Protection Factor. It seems to be what most consumers rely on to determine the effectiveness of sunscreen. Most consumers believe that the higher the SPF of a sunscreen or sunblock, the more effective it is. But experts don’t seem to believe this to be so.

To an ordinary consumer, getting a sunscreen with an SPF 30 tag may seem to offer twice the protection of a sunscreen with SPF 15. But experts say that an SPF 15 sunscreen can block 94 percent of UVB rays while an SPF 30 sunscreen blocks around 97 percent. There is not much of a difference in them. Past SPF 30, such sunscreens do not offer any additional benefit.

Knowing What’s Best

The best way to know what sunscreens or sunblocks offer the much needed protection may be to understand and know the ingredients that the products may contain. Consumers should not try to depend only on a product’s SPF rating. Knowing the ingredients that the products use and their benefits as well as certain undesirable effects would help a lot in keeping consumers better informed.

There are basically two types of sunscreen ingredients being used. There are physical blockers which work by deflecting sunlight and there are chemical blockers which absorb sunlight, break them down and them release them. Physical blockers may include ingredients such as titanium oxide and zinc oxide. A 7 percent formulation in sunscreens offer effective protection against UVA and UVB rays. The only disadvantage with them is that they tend to leave a white film on the skin when applied.

Chemical blockers in sunscreens include oxybenzone and avobenzone. Oxybenzone offers effective protection against UVB rays but only a part of the UVA. Avobenzone may provide both effective protection against UVB and UVA rays.

But the problem with chemical blockers is that they also break down easily when they try to breakdown sunlight. This is why they need to be combined with stabilizing agents to make them effective for longer than 30 minutes to an hour. There might also be safety concerns since the health risks of using such chemical blockers in sunscreens still remain unclear.