How does sunscreen protect skin?
Natural sunlight contains, among other things, ultraviolet (UV) photons. These photons are shorter in wavelength and higher in energy than visible light. Because they fall outside the visible spectrum, the human eye cannot perceive them. When it comes to sun exposure, however, what you can’t see will hurt you. When these high-energy photons strike your skin, they generate free radicals and can also directly damage your DNA. Over the short term, this UV-induced damage can produce a painful burn; over the long term it causes premature aging of the skin, as well as millions of new cases of skin cancer each year.
The UV rays that we are exposed to here on the earth’s surface consist of UVB and UVA photons. The shorter wavelength UVB rays don’t penetrate deeply into skin; they cause significant damage to DNA and are the primary cause of sunburn and skin cancer. The longer wavelength UVA rays penetrate the deeper layers of skin, where they produce free radicals. UVA exposure has been linked to premature aging of the skin and immunologic problems.
A sunscreen product acts like a very thin bulletproof vest, stopping the UV photons before they can reach the skin and inflict damage. It contains organic sunscreen molecules that absorb UV and inorganic pigments that absorb, scatter and reflect UV. To deliver a high level of protection, a sunscreen product must have sufficient quantities of these protective agents and it must optimally deploy them over the skin’s peaks and valleys.
The term SPF that appears on sunscreen labels stands for Sun Protection Factor, but it is really a sunburn protection factor. Products with a higher SPF allow fewer of the photons that produce sunburn to strike the skin.
The issue with the chemical sunscreens
Contrary to popular belief that sunscreens protect us, many sunscreens may actually increase the speed at which malignant cells grow and contribute to the spread of skin cancer, due to they contain dangerous ingredients. The active ingredients in sunscreens are classified into two groups, the mineral and chemical filters. Each uses a different mechanism to protect the skin and to maintain stability in sunlight. Each can endanger human health.
The most common sunscreens on the market contain chemical filters. These products usually include a combination of two to six of the following active ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone octisalate, octocrylene, and homosalate octinoxate. The mineral sunscreens contain zinc oxide and / or titanium dioxide. A range of products combine zinc oxide with chemical filters.
Nutrients that boost your skin’s antioxidant protection against UV radiation
With the overwhelming increase in awareness about the use of chemicals in our personal care products and their negative effects, this has put more emphasis on researching natural alternatives.
Fortunately today there are companies that produce effective natural sunscreens, one of these and our own company, which manufactures products that contribute to the total protection of skin and body. Do not forget that 70% of the substances spread on our skin are absorbed inside.
Let’s look and some foods and nutrients that also help boost our skin’s antioxidant levels to protect against UV radiation;
- Cocoa(dark chocolate): contains 4 times as much phenols and catechins as tea. These antioxidants protect our skin from sunburn and skin cancer. Milk should not be added to the chocolate as it interferes with the absorption of its antioxidants. Recommended dose: 2 ounces of dark chocolate daily.
- Green and black teas: rich in polyphenols. Polyphenols are one of the most powerful botanical antioxidants known today. They offer unrivalled action against free radical exposure which is responsible for 80% of skin aging and can boost your skin`s antioxidant protection from the inside out. According to a study, drinking two or more cups of either black or green tea reduces the risk of developing squamous cell skin cancer by 30%.
- Micro-algae: like chlorella and spirulina, contain a carotenoid called Astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is, perhaps, the most powerful ever studied. It is 550 times more powerful than Vitamin E, and it has been shown to protect the skin and eyes against Ultraviolet radiation.
- Carotenoids: are antioxidants which reduce the negative effects of UVB radiation. Green leafy vegetables are rich in oxygenated carotenoid compounds known as xanthophylls. Carotenes are unoxygenated carotenoid compounds which provide pigment to fruits and vegetables. This pigment is used by plants as sunscreen and can activate melanin. Foods containing high concentrations of carotenes are: apricots, papaya, mango, carrots, sweet potatoes and beets.
- Argan Oil: is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, terpenoids, carotenoids and vitamin E which give excellent cosmetic properties. It is highly moisturizing and nourishing suitable for the dehydrated and mature skin.
- Avocado Oil: avocado oil rich in vitamins A and V. Suitable for dehydrated skin, quickly absorbed due to the phytosterol content.
- Biological Aloe Vera Extract: Aloe Vera , a source of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids are the “building blocks” of proteins. Thanks to its ingredients and synergy, it offers soothing and softening effect and enhances the renewal of skin.
After doing your own research about sunscreen protection, I recommend you to check here.