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Christina Kosak Module 02 Discussion – Sunscreen Effectiveness – Natural vs. Chemical

What is the best way to protect your skin from sun-related damage? What are the advantages and disadvantages to sunscreens containing common active ingredients such as oxybenzone, octocrylene, and homosalate? Are there benefits to using mineral sunscreens, such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide? How effective are natural sunscreens, such as coconut oil or shea butter? If a sunscreen product is not regulated by the FDA, how can you determine if the product’s claims are true?

    The best ways to protect your skin from any sort of sun damage (sun burn, premature skin aging, cancer, etc.) are wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 30+ (the obvious most common way to prevent sun damage), wear a hat, wear sunglasses, and wearing clothing that covers up your skin can help to protect you. We also have to keep in mind that nothing in life is perfect and nothing is every guaranteed, even sunblock, so there is still a chance for skin damage, but, using sunscreen is better than not wearing any at all. Although it may not seem like it, there is a huge difference between chemical and mineral sunscreens. Even though they both protect your skin from the sun, they both have an effect on the sun’s UV rays in different ways. For instance, mineral sunscreens (natural sunscreens) protect your skin by laying on the surface of your skin, not allowing anything to penetrate your skin, to prevent harmful UV rays to enter your skin. On the other hand, chemical sunscreens don’t just “sit” on your skin,. Chemical sunscreens allows harmful UV rays to enter your skin. The good thing about chemical sunscreens is that it is typically easier to apply and can be done quickly (and smell nice). In contrast, chemical sunscreens can be bad for people with sensitive skin causing skin irritations (redness, bumps, allergic reactions, etc.) But that doesn’t necessarily mean chemical sunscreens are bad for you. If you have sensitive skin or a skin allergy towards it, the solution is simple and avoid sunscreens with chemicals. As for the mineral sunscreens, they tend to be more on the “irritating” side when applying it to your skin because of it’s thickness and you have to keep rubbing it in until you can no longer visibly see it. And because of it’s thickness, people with oily, acne prone skin will more than likely have some awful breakouts. But on the plus side, mineral sunscreens start to work immediately, once applied, versus chemical sunscreen which takes up to 20-30 minutes to be effective. Natural also isn’t always safe; such as the do it yourself coconut oil sunscreens, which in fact, are dangerous. More dangerous than using a chemical sunscreen. Even though it is claimed that coconut oil provides you with an SPF of 7 and only 7, that only blocks 20% of the sun’s UV ray versus chemical sunscreen with an SPF of 30+ that blocks the sun’s UV rays of 97%. With common knowledge, if something is not approved by the FDA, don’t use it. 

References:

https://www.cancer.org/healthy/be-safe-in-sun/uv-protection.html

https://www.everydayhealth.com/skin-beauty/chemical-vs-mineral-sunscreen-whats-difference/

https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/coconut-oil-as-sunscreen#coconut-oil-vs.-sunscreen

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