What you probably didn’t know about sunscreen

Skin Care Matters

with Michelle Vernon

Sunday, March 12, 2017    

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Some sun is important, not only for the skin, but for a person’s overall well-being. Exposure to sunlight is good for stimulating the production of serotonin. Serotonin is considered a natural mood stabiliser and the chemical that helps sleeping, eating and digesting.

Serotonin also helps reduce depression, regulate anxiety, heal wounds, stimulate nausea, and maintain bone health. Sunlight is also a source of vitamin D, which is produced in the skin after exposure to ultraviolet (UV) B rays and defends the body against microbial invaders, as well as regulates the concentration of calcium and phosphate in the bloodstream to promote strong, healthy bones. It also aids in the absorption of other vitamins.

Ten minutes in the sun each day can be highly beneficial, but excessive exposure can lead to photoaging damages such as wrinkles, brown spots and slack skin, to name a few.

Make sure to protect the face and other areas vulnerable to sun-damage with good physical ingredients, such as zinc and titanium dioxide. These also guard against other environmental toxins.

UV protection is absolutely essential and a vital part of an effective skin care routine. UV rays are responsible for a large majority of photoaging and are the leading cause of skin cancer. It’s important to be knowledgeable on proper skin protection.


Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are the two most commonly used blockers that are beneficial to the skin and have no side effects. These naturally occurring ingredients protect against the full UV spectrum; however, one of the major issues with naturally occurring blockers is the chalky cosmetic appearance and texture that is often associated with them.

Zinc oxide is an inorganic compound and an essential mineral for the body. It plays an important role in cell production, promotes healthy skin and hair, boosts the immune system and also provides broad-spectrum protection, which, in turn, helps reduce UVA-induced free radical production in the deeper layers of the skin.

Zinc oxide is not absorbed by the skin; rather, it sits on the skin’s surface, blocking both UVA and UVB rays.

Titanium dioxide is derived from titanium and is a highly reflective chalky mineral. It is non-irrit­ating, non-allergenic and non-comed­ogenic, which means it doesn’t cause or aggravate acne. The physical blocker is commonly used in sunscreens because it offers both UVA and UVB protection.

Titanium is found in nature in minerals such as rutile, anatase and brookite.


Refrain from using sunscreens with octinoxate, oxybenzone and avobenzone.

In addition to increased cancer rates, these unstable chemicals have also been linked to hormone imbalance, dysfunctions in sexual development and function, as well as birth defects because of their oestrogen-like effects.

Octinoxate (octyl methoxyc­innamate) is an oestrogenic chemical that has been linked to hormonal imbalance and increased rates of cancer.

Oxybenzone (a derivative of benzophenone) is a chemical that may cause hormone disruption. In Europe, products with 0.5 per cent or more of this chemical must have the warning label.

Avobenzone is a free radical-generator that absorbs UV radiation energy and, since it cannot destroy it, converts the light energy to chemical energy, which is typically released as free radicals in the body.

When several of these chemicals are combined to form a broad-spectrum sunscreen, the formula may release its own free radicals, subjecting the skin to damage.

With this information, it should be easier selecting an appropriate sunscreen. In addition to sunscreen, you should spend no more than 10 minutes each day in direct sunlight, or at the very least, seek shade, avoid midday sun, and wear broad-brimmed hats and sun-protective clothing.

Remember, UV rays are among the most damaging elements to the skin and a primary cause of ageing. A good sun protection factor (SPF) is about the health of the skin as well as maintaining a more youthful appearance.

Michelle Vernon is a licensed aesthetician who operates the Body Studio Skincare located at 23 Central Plaza, Kingston 10, and Fairview Shopping Centre, Montego Bay. She may be reached at telephone 908-0438 or 684-9800; IG@bodystudioskincare; E-mail:; Website:





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