Sunblock

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The importance of sunblock... In order to protect yourself from the sun, most people the world over have been educated to, or instinctively know to...

  • wear sun protective clothing - including wearing a floppy hat to protect your face and scalp, sun umbrellas, long-sleeved tops and pants, as well as closed-toed shoes
  • limit the amount of time in the sun - especially when the sun is at its hottest around midday
  • cover our skin with sunscreen or sunblock

So, how does one define the difference between sun block and sunscreen? Predominantly they are seen as one and the same, with another term used for the same thing being 'suncream'. Some people refer to 'sun block' when the ingredients are seen to physically reflect the sun's rays, rather than chemically absorb them, thereby blocking them from reaching your skin and doing any damage. The physical block, or reflective ingredients, have the added benefit of blocking UVA rays, in addition to UVB rays. The chemical absorbing ingredients are known to only block the UVB rays.

However, the reality is that whether it is a 'sunscreen', 'sunblock' or 'suncream', no product can provide a 100% full block from the sun's UVA and UVB rays.

Bottom line, you essentially need to understand what it is you are looking for, which then requires you to inspect the labels and the ingredients! Most importantly, you need to look for both UVA and UVB protection.

While many people believe they are taking appropriate measures to protect themselves, most are unaware that the ingredients in popular sun care products are toxic - some even carcinogenic. Ironically, many of the most popular sun care products list suspected carcinogens as well as endocrine disrupters - synthetic chemicals suspected in declining sperm counts and cancer of the testicles, prostate, and breast.

Physical blocking ingredients will be one of either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. There are the only 2 accepted by the national health organizations globally. A lot of people associate 'sunblock' with the thick white sticky substance used by sportsmen such as cricketers and surfers on their noses, ears and cheeks. These are typically made from either Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide. However, over the years, many strides have been made to enhance the wearability of these two sunblocks and the combination of ingredients have changed quite radically to embrace the most healthy alternatives.

Having said that, many products are labeled as a sunblock without containing any physical block ingredients at all. Even though it is being used as a generic label, in many instances, people are mis-led into believing that they will be blocking out the harmful effects of the sun's UV rays completely.

In this respect, many experts have a problem with using the term 'sunblock' at all, since no product is able to block out all of the sun's rays. In fact, even your clothing lets some of the sun's rays reach your body. For example, in wearing a regular cotton T-shirt you can compare it to having a sunscreen with SPF 5 on your skin.

Even 'skin lightening' products contain blocking ingredients. These products are aimed at blocking out the effect of the suns UV rays, which causes the skins melanin production to increase, which results in a darker complexion.

The skin lightening product's main aim is to lighten the skin, or effectively to decrease the melanin content of the skin. Melanin is in fact one of the skin's natural defense mechanisms against potential damage to the skin from the sun. The more melanin, the higher the skin's protection from damage from the sun's UV rays. As such, darker skinned people with their natural higher levels of melanin, typically do not suffer as much from such things as sunburn or skin cancers. In reverse, if the skin is extremely pale, it automatically requires higher 'sunblock' protection from potential damage from the sun's UV rays. Hence, skin lightening products need to provide sun protection at the same time as skin lightening qualities.



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