Are the recent headlines about a carcinogenic chemical in some popular sunscreens scaring you? If you plan to throw away your sunscreen, don’t, say dermatologists. Last week, Johnson & Johnson voluntarily recalled some of its Neutrogena and Aveeno spray sunscreen products out of “great caution” after independent study found they contained benzene, a chemical that increases risk. to develop leukemia and other blood disorders. To be on the safe side, CVS Health has also stopped selling some of its private label sunscreen products.
But don’t think all spray sunscreens are dangerous: in fact, most sunscreens tested in the study, including sprays, were found to be completely benzene-free and should continue to be used on a daily basis.
The recall is “not a reason to stop using sunscreen, which is known to prevent skin cancer,” Ranella Hirsch, former president of the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery, posted on Instagram . “It would be like hearing that a particular car model has been recalled and then committing to never driving again.”
Plus, now that mask mandates across the country have been relaxed this summer, our full, uncovered faces are more vulnerable than ever to sun damage. But with hundreds of products on the market, it can be difficult to know which sunscreen is right for you and your skin.
BU today spoke with Christina Lam, assistant professor of dermatology in the School of Medicine and clinical dermatologist at Boston Medical Center, the University Hospital of BU, about how to choose the best sun protection formula for your face and body . Her first rule of thumb: Look for products that have an SPF of 30 or higher – and much more if you have a history of skin cancer – and remember to reapply every two to three hours if you have a skin cancer. time out. See more of his tips below.
First of all, there are two types of sunscreens: chemical blocking sunscreens and physical blocking sunscreens. Chemical sunscreens block UV rays by absorbing them into the skin and then releasing them. Common active ingredients in chemicals are avobenzone, oxybenzone, and octinoxate. Physical sunscreens, on the other hand, work by sitting on the skin and reflecting UV rays away from the body or face (think: the whitened noses of rescuers of the past). Common active ingredients in these products are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
There are certain properties associated with both types of sunscreen, which means it’s worth knowing which one does what. Chemical sunscreens, like your good old Banana Boat Sport or La Roche-Posay sun lotion, are more resistant to water and sweat and penetrate the skin faster. They can, however, be more likely to clog your pores.
Physical or “mineral” sunscreens, like Sun Bum Mineral Facial Lotion, are gentler (less likely to irritate sensitive skin) and more hydrating than chemical sunscreens. The big downside to mineral formulas, however, is that they can be harder for the skin to absorb and can lead to the dreaded “white melt”.
In this spirit:
If you have oily, acne-prone, or sensitive skin, opt for mineral and / or non-comedogenic formulas. “Sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide tend to be better tolerated by people with sensitive skin,” says Lam. And, as always, oil-free formulas are a must have, especially for anyone with acne-prone skin.
For anyone undergoing acne treatment, such as doxycycline or Accutane or a topical such as tretinoin, you should consider increasing the SPF, as the treatment may make you more photosensitive. Additionally, “we recommend other sun protection measures like avoiding the midday sun,” says Lam. “So sunscreen and don’t play basketball at noon, because that will definitely get you sunburned.” “
If you have dry skin, look for sunscreen with extras. “Sunscreen containing ceramides or hyaluronic acid can be helpful for dry skin,” Lam advises. Or, just apply the sunscreen of your choice over your regular moisturizer – just be sure to let your skin dry between products (rule of thumb: wait five minutes between applications).
If you have dark skin, avoid mineral sunscreens. When not rubbed in properly, mineral formulas are infamous for leaving a whitish tint which can leave darker gray-looking skin. If the chemical formulas make you pop, go for a tinted mineral sunscreen – “a tint helps the product blend better,” says Lam.
And yes, you should always wear sunscreen if you have a darker complexion: Just because you’re at lower risk of sunburn doesn’t mean you should skip the SPF, says Lam. Sun damage like fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, and rough skin texture can still affect your skin. In addition, there is always a risk of skin cancer: “There is a lot of data showing that patients with darker skin can still get skin cancer, and when they do, it is sometimes at a stage. later because they are not used to checking their skin, ”says Lam.
Plus, don’t rely on sprays or sticks for your first application. “The problem with sprays or sticks is that it can be difficult to reach every area you need to cover,” says Lam. “You can spray, spray, spray but still end up with a sunburn spot because you missed a spot.” Instead, she recommends using a lotion formula for your first application and using sunscreen sticks and sprays for reapplication throughout the day. (The same goes for powdered sunscreens, which can also be used for mattifying purposes.)
Finally, organic doesn’t always mean better. Do you like the natural beauty section of your grocery store? That’s fine, but when it comes to sunscreen, in particular, don’t assume that “plant-derived” is safer. “I always joke that poison ivy is plant-based,” says Lam. “You can still experience irritation or an allergic reaction from ‘organic’ products. His suggestion: read the labels carefully and if all else fails, go for a mineral formula.
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