The Good, The Bad & The Sunburned
As you all know, sun protection is uber-important in the fight against aging. We get so many questions about various new sun protection tools and technologies that we thought we’d help separate myth from fact by breaking down what works and what doesn’t. Here’s what Dr. Lancer has to say about 5 alternative methods of sun protection:
UV-blocking clothing. Wearing UV-blocking clothing is a great way to protect your skin when you’re in the sun for extended periods of time playing sports, walking, hiking, driving or doing anything active. UV protection is woven into the fabric and provides full spectrum protection without the worry of mis-applying or forgetting to reapply sunscreen. These items are a smart option for kids or people with sensitive skin.
Drinkable sunscreen. It may sound crazy, but there is a product that claims to be drinkable sun protection called Harmonized H20 UV Neutralizer. But whether it actually works is highly questionable. There is no ingredient information provided by the company, making it impossible to accurately judge the efficacy. Additionally, there is no current scientific or medical evidence that would indicate the possibility of an internal sunscreen protecting the skin externally. Experimenting with sun protection is a dangerous gamble and not worth the potential ill-effects. Stick with externally applied sunscreen and you will be safe.
UV monitoring wristbands. UV monitoring wristbands and patches are a great tool to help monitor how much sun you have had, especially on days when it may be hard to tell, like when it’s overcast, or you’ve been in and out of the shade. The patches or wristbands change color in accordance with the amount of UV light they have been exposed to, letting you know when you’ve had a safe amount of sun exposure and when it’s time to get out of the sun completely.
Super high SPF. Understanding the risks and benefits of a sunscreeen with a super high SPF (think 50 and above) means understanding what Sun Protection Factor truly means. Many people today believe Sun Protection Factor translates to the number of minutes you can spend in the sun and remain protected, when in fact it refers to the level of UV light the sunscreen protects your skin against (it has little to do with time and more to do with the strength of the sun). Much of the concern over high-SPF sunscreens comes from the incorrect consumer belief that they can stay in the sun for 100 minutes without reapplication – leading to overexposure, sunburns and skin damage. For example, an SPF of 50 protects skin from 98 percent of UVA and UVB rays, while an SPF of 100 protects skin from 99 percent of rays. Though the number doubles, the amount of protection does not. So while there isn’t anything necessarily wrong with a super high SPF, do be aware of what you are putting on your skin and how well you are being protected.
Astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is a supplement that is said to help protect skin from damaging UV rays in sunlight. The company that produces it claims that it’s an antioxidant more powerful than beta-carotene, lycopene, and alpha-tocopherants, and that the supplement works wonders against free-radicals and helps with cell protection, including the damage that occurs from UV rays. Even though this supplement may help your body protect and repair itself from free radical damage, the effects of astaxanthin are not strong enough to use in lieu of a true sunscreen.
Have you tried any of these alternative sun protection methods? We’d love to hear about your experiences with them!