Protecting Your Skin from UV Damage Understand the Body

Wellbeing Narrative Blog Protecting Skin UV Damage SunscreenUsing sunscreen daily is the best protection against ultraviolet radiation (UV) damage.  However, it’s important to know how to choose the right sunscreen.

Tips for choosing sunscreen:

  • Make sure it offers both UVA and UVB protection.  UVA rays damage the dermis (innermost layer of the skin) and cause deeper damage, resulting in photoaging and skin cancer.  UVB rays damage the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin) and cause superficial damage to the skin in the form of sunburns.  (It’s also important to note that UVB rays are strongest between 10am and 2pm.)
  • Look at the ingredients.  Many sunscreens contain ingredients that are highly toxic, so stick to sunscreens with Zinc Oxide and/or Titanium Oxide.
  • Avoid sunscreens that contain these chemical ingredients:
    • para-amino-benzoic acid (PABA)
    • benzophenone-3 and oxybenzone
    • octyl methoxycinnamate and methoxy cinnamate
    • octyl salicylate

In order to check if your sunscreen (or thousands of other products) contains toxic ingredients, visit the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.

*For my face, I use Elta MD Clear SPF 46 (which is amazing for sensitive skin). For body, I use Badger Unscented Sunscreen.

Tips for wearing sunscreen:

  • Wear sunscreen daily. This includes overcast days, as well as days you’ll be inside or driving.  Studies reveal the left side (aka the driver’s side) of the face accumulates more UV damage than right.

UV exposure is cumulative, and research has proven that skin exposed to sun shining through window glass, even in the office, can over time lead to significant skin damage. The UV exposure we receive driving a car especially adds up. In a US study by Singer, et al, the researchers found asymmetric photodamage (sun-induced skin damage) on the face, with more brown pigment (color) and deeper wrinkles on the left. The more time subjects spent driving a vehicle, the more severe their photodamage on the left side. Reinforcing this research, in countries where the driver’s side is the right side, people tend to develop more sun damage and skin precancers on the right.*

  • Remember to reapply sunscreen throughout the day, especially on the hands, which we touch and wash constantly.  It’s more challenging to reapply sunscreen to the face when wearing makeup, but it’s worth it.

Info. on natural protection:

  • Eating a diet filled with bright-colored fruits and vegetables offers natural skin protection due to high antioxidant levels.  Antioxidants neutralize free-radicals, thereby preventing damage caused by sun exposure.  You can take supplements Vitamins A, C, and E as well (but many experts believe food is a significantly better antioxidant source).
  • Foods high in antioxidants:
    • Berries- Goji berries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, cranberries
    • Other fruits- avocados, cherries, green or red pears, and kiwi
    • Vegetables- spinach, sweet potatoes, broccoli, artichokes
    • Green tea
    • Nuts- almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts
    • Herbs- ginger, cinnamon, ground cloves, turmeric powder
    • Beans- kidney, pinto, black and small red beans
    • Organic dark chocolate

-Brannon, Heather, MD.  UV Radiation. Dermatology. July 2 2008.
-Cutler, Susan T, MD. Sun Hazards in Your Car.  Skin Cancer Foundation. 2012.
-Fairley, Josephine.  Organic Beauty.  Dorling Kindersley, London.  2001.
Food Sources the Best Choice for Antioxidants. MayoClinic.  June 5 2009.

-For additional information, check out this blog post from My New Roots.