It's Skin Cancer Awareness Month and we have to "face" the facts...
We all know someone who has been affected by skin cancer. 1 in 3 cancers diagnosed world-wide are skin cancers (American Cancer Society) In the general population, there is a strong correlation between melanoma risk and a person’s number of sunburns, particularly in childhood.
I've been a full-time practicing Esthetician for 10+ years now and here are a couple of concerns and objections I frequently hear from clients about sunscreen:
"I need my vitamin D!"
Do you really need sun exposure to absorb vitamin D? There are ALOT of opinions on this!
According to the American Academy of Dermatology: "There is no scientifically validated, safe threshold level of UV exposure from the sun that allows for maximal vitamin D synthesis without increasing skin cancer risk."
If you think you may be at risk of having low levels of vitamin D, eating more vitamin D rich foods or supplements may be the answer for you. Too much vitamin D can also be harmful so have your vitamin D levels tested by your doctor and make sure you follow your doctors advice on this one.
"Sunscreens are loaded with toxic chemicals."
This is actually very true of many sunscreens on the market.
Always choose one with minerals listed as the active ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Avoid sunscreens that contain "anti-aging" ingredients like vitamin c or retinoids. These ingredients are great on their own but have no business in sunscreen because they can react with the sun's rays causing dark pigmentation spots on the skin.
If you are ever unsure on whether or not your sunscreen is safe, educate yourself by consulting the Environmental Working Groups guide or ask your trusted Esthetician.
"I use a tanning bed, but I always protect my face."
Seriously? Yes, I have heard this many times. It's a frustrating misconception that there is a safe amount of tanning bed exposure. There isn't. Tanning beds are intense UVA rays that penetrate the deepest in the skin and cause so much more damage than the sun. The risk of melanoma goes up when you use a tanning bed at any age, but the International Agency for Research on Cancer calculates that if you start using tanning beds before age 30, your risk of developing melanoma jumps by 75 percent. Just don't use a tanning bed. Period.
Truly the worst danger I see with sunscreen is
it can give a false sense of security against sun damage. Make sure you really understand how much and how often. Talk to your Esthetician about your level of sun exposure and what products you are using. You truly need a full "shot" (1 oz. or shot glass full) of sunscreen to cover your entire body and you must re-apply it every 2 hours while in the sun to be protected from burning. Don't use sunscreen as a tool to prolong your time in the sun. Pick a mineral based sunscreen with strong UVA protection. I prefer to stay away from spray sunscreens since they are usually not mineral based. Spray-on sunscreen can also easily be inhaled and it's easy to miss spots when spraying on outside, especially in the crazy Kansas wind!
Also: wearing a hat in the shade is never a bad idea.