Should sunscreen contain zinc oxide
What kind of sunscreen should I use and why?
In addition to other precautions, such as avoiding direct sunlight and protecting yourself with appropriate clothing, sunscreens are an important factor in maintaining the health of our skin.
However, the variety of products available doesn't necessarily make choosing the right sunscreen any easier. Buying the right sunscreen is about much more than just the price.
Protection against UVA and UVB
The fact that sunlight has a damaging effect at all is due to the UV radiation it contains. This exists in two different wavelengths, UVA and UVB. The most obvious skin damage, such as redness and blistering, is caused by UVB rays and is usually associated with skin cancer. UVA rays, on the other hand, tend to have creeping, long-term effects such as premature aging, a weakening of the immune system and various cancer risks.
"TiO2- Nanoparticles are often used as UV filters in sunscreens and have long been considered extremely safe to use "
The sun protection factor (SPF) of a sunscreen indicates how well it works against UVB radiation. With a view to the UVA risks, the EU recommends that the UVA protection of a product should be at least one third of its SPF value. Corresponding sunscreens are marked with the letters "UVA" in a circle.
While UVA radiation is considered a serious threat by experts, it is often overlooked by consumers. A recent study showed that more than half of all parents would choose a sunscreen based on its SPF alone in order to avoid sunburn. Potential damage from UVA radiation did not play a role in the purchase decision.
Which type of sun protection is the right one - mineral or chemical?
Every sunscreen product needs an active ingredient in the form of a mineral or chemical filter that protects against the harmful effects of the sun. Examples of mineral filters are titanium dioxide (TiO2) and zinc oxide, while in chemical filters, for example, Mexoryl SX (INCI: Terephthalylidene Dicamphor Sulfonic Acid) and Oxybenzone (INCI: Benzophenone-3) are typical active ingredients.
Mineral sunscreens such as TiO2, form a protective layer on the skin and reflect UV rays. In contrast, chemical filters are absorbed by the skin, where they act on the UV radiation that penetrates the body. This is then given off again in the form of infrared radiation.
The benefits of mineral and chemical sunscreens make them the preferred choice for parents and those with sensitive skin. According to Paul Wright, Associate Professor at the Institute for Health and Biomedical Sciences at RMIT University Melbourne, chemical options "can cause skin irritation and allergies, must be used more frequently and are absorbed into the skin to a far greater extent".
Which mineral sun protection is the right one - TiO2 or zinc?
Especially TiO2 is praised for its skin protection properties, as this substance absorbs and dissipates both UVA and UVB rays in an extremely efficient manner. Mineral-based sunscreens often have a mix of active ingredients, but Dr. Mike Bell, the scientific advisor to the British drugstore chain Boots, notes that "Titanium dioxide, with its SPF in the UVB range, offers a slightly more efficient sun protection than zinc oxide."
Use of sunscreens
The protective effect of the product depends on its strength and how thick you apply it. However, most people only use around half the recommended amount, so they are not adequately protected from the sun.
“The reason for this is, quite simply, that a large amount feels rather uncomfortable on the skin,” explains Brian Diffey, professor emeritus in the Department of Dermatology at Newcastle University. “It is best to take enough before exposing yourself to the sun that you still feel comfortable with it and then apply the remedy again after 10–15 minutes. This makes it much easier to achieve the expected SPF and a more even distribution. "
"Considering that most people do not use sunscreen according to the recommendations of the manufacturer, they should better use a product with a significantly higher SPF than they think it is necessary"
In order to solve the application problem, groundbreaking technical advances are used. TiO is increasingly being used in sunscreens2 in nanoparticle form because it allows for easier and less frustrating application.
“Nanoparticles of TiO2 are often used as UV filters in sunscreens and are proven to be very safe to use, ”explains Dr. Chris Flower, biologist, toxicologist and general manager of the Cosmetics, Toiletries & Perfumery Association.
“In nano form, TiO2 also has the advantage that it is easier to spread and appears transparent on the skin instead of white. These are important factors because the look and feel of a product on the skin can have a major impact on the decision to use a sun protection product. "
Arguments for a higher SPF
Experts generally recommend using products with SPF 30 or more to compensate for the too economical use by consumers. Current research by King’s College London seems to confirm this. As part of this large-scale project, scientists investigated the damage to DNA caused by UV radiation. They found that subjects who had applied a sunscreen in the official dosage suffered significantly less damage than a control group who was exposed to low UV radiation for one day without sunscreen.
"This research shows that how it is applied plays a crucial role in the effectiveness of a sunscreen," says the report's author, Professor Antony Young. "Considering that most people don't use sunscreen according to the manufacturer's recommendations, they'd better use a product with a significantly higher SPF than they think they should be."
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