I recently found a brilliant article in the Fall 2012 Allure Insiders’ Guide entitled “Skin Care, A to Z.” (p. 163) (Sorry to get so college paper on everyone but I want to document properly!) The article presents a super comprehensive list of skin-care terms and definitions found in so many articles that assume the reader already knows the drill. Here are some used in the sun protection world that I think are particularly helpful to understand.
1. Avobenzone. Allure’s definition confirms that this is an ingredient used in sunscreens that “absorbs aging UVA rays.” (p. 163) Avobenzone is used in chemical sunscreens that I try to avoid because I want to BLOCK the sun with a physical sunscreen or clothing. Allure goes on to explain that avobenzone is “often used in combination with other active ingredients because it breaks down quickly when exposed to sunlight.” (p. 163) Yet another reason to go the physical route, in my opinion, because chemical can break down over time, diminishing protection.
2. Titanium Dioxide. And I quote, “This sunscreen ingredient is a physical block, meaning it reflects UVA and UVB light, keeping it from being absorbed by the skin.” (p. 166) I could weep this is so beautifully said.
3. UVA rays. The bottom line is that these are the rays that cause skin cancer and aging. Allure mentions that these rays “are also the kind generated in tanning beds.” (p. 166) Completely incredible that people continue to use tanning beds.
4. UVB rays. These rays are the ones that cause “darkened pigment in the form of tanning, freckles, and age spots…” (p. 166) So, when products say “broad spectrum,” this means that they block from both UVA and UVB. Remember these are the rays that can come through car windows!
5. Zinc oxide. The mineral of my dreams! Allure clearly states that ZnO (zinc oxide) “physically blocks UVA and UVB light from penetrating the skin.” (p. 166) Your best friend! Your main man! Your number one! Go find sunscreens that use ZnO! Suggestions include Eucerin Daily Protection SPF30 Moisturizing Face Lotion (Zinc Oxide 4.85%), EltaMD UV Daily Broad Spectrum SPF40 (Zinc Oxide 9%), and Koh Gen Do UV Care Milk (12.6% Zinc Oxide).
Arm yourself with information to make smart product selections for your skin, my friends!