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Are Sunscreens Actually Harmful And Can They Cause Your Skin To Age


Are Sunscreens Actually Harmful & Can They Cause Your Skin To Age?

Sunscreen, or synonymously called Suncream, is a protection against sunburns, the ultra-violet rays and skin darkening, are commonly available in the form of the lotion, cream, gel or spray.

The sunscreens use titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as their important ingredients. Unlike the organic contents of the sunscreens, these metal oxides do not degrade with exposure to sunlight hence, giving you protection under exposure of the sun.

The American Cancer Society and other medical institutions recommend the use of a sunscreen because it helps in the prevention of Squamous Cell Carcinomas (i.e. the cancer of epithelial cell).

The use of broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreens is always recommended as many sunscreens don’t block UVA radiations which can increase the rate of melanoma and photodermatitis.

Sunscreens are broadly classified into two, based on their methodology:

1. Physical Sunscreens

These reflect/block the sunlight using physical UV filters. They are commonly known as Inorganic Sunscreens.

2. Chemical Sunscreens

They absorb or scatter the UV lights. These sunscreens are generally known as Organic Sunscreens.

Physical sunscreens are usually better as they can be tolerated by most skin types. However, the physical sunscreens tend to be thicker and leave a white layer after application and don’t offer as much UVA protection compared to chemical sunscreens. Nowadays, the sunscreens contain both physical and chemical UV filters, considering the pros and cons of each type.

The thorough use of sunscreen is helpful in slowing down or preventing the evolution of wrinkles and sagging skin, temporarily.

A study in 2001 suggested that in order to get the best results, the sunscreen must be reapplied after the number of minutes, half as the SPF number of the sunscreen after the sun exposure begins. For example, if the SPF is 20, sunscreen should be reapplied after every 10 minutes of exposure. Further, reapply only after activities that tend to wipe the sun blocking cream off our body, like swimming, sweating or rubbing.

As per the most recent research at the University of California, for effective results, sunscreen must be reapplied at an interval of nearly two hours. Not following this trend could cause more cell damage as compared to the cell damage caused by not applying any sunscreen at all. This is because of the extra free radicals that are released by the sunscreen chemicals, which get absorbed into the skin.

Advantages of Sunscreen

1. Shields From Harmful UV Rays

The harmful ray of sun, due to the depleting ozone layer, increases the risk of skin disorders.  Sunscreens help in blocking these rays from penetrating the skin.

2. Prevents Premature Aging

Sunscreens help in preventing premature signs of aging, like wrinkles and fine lines. Studies reveal that people who started using sunscreen, before the age of 55, had 24% lesser chances of developing aging signs than people who didn’t use it at all or did so occasionally. The effective anti aging treatment by revitol includes sunscreens with both organic and inorganic ingredients, which noticeably delay the skin aging phenomenon and eventually prevent the skin from premature aging.

3. Lowers Skin Cancer Risks

Cancers are a nightmare! With the increasing rate of UV rays, the risk of skin cancer also increases, especially for the light skinned and people in their 20’s. Sunscreens help in blocking out these rays and preventing cancers like melanoma.

4. Prevents Sunburns

Sunburns can cause edema, itching, peeling skin, rash, nausea, fever, chills, and syncope; depending on the degree of pain and duration of exposure to the sun. It is important to prevent skin from sunburns because they accelerate the chances of skin cancer.

5. Prevents Tanning

Tan, unlike the prevailing myths, is not healthy. It exposes your skin to further damage by inducing it to UVB rays. Thus, it is very important to apply sunscreen even if you want to take a sunbath.

Disadvantages of Sunscreens

1. Allergic Reactions

The chemical ingredients of sunscreens may not suit everybody and may even cause skin irritations like redness, swelling, itching etc. PABA used in most commercial sunscreens can cause a high rate of allergic reactions. Hypoallergenic sunscreens should hence be preferred.

2. Sunscreens Can Make Acne Worse

The Acne-prone skin may get inflamed by using sunscreens and hence worsen the acne. It is always suggested to choose non-comedogenic and non-oily sunscreens in the case of acne-prone skin. Sunscreens for the body must not be used on the face as they are heavier and may also worsen situations.

3. Eye Irritation

Sunscreens usually come with the warning “When using this product, keep out of eyes. Rinse with water to remove.” They cause pain and irritation in eyes and may also cause burning and temporary light sensitivity.

4. Increases the Risk of Breast Cancer

Ingredients of sunscreens may also have high estrogenic effects on breast cancer cells. They may affect blood estrogen levels. It’s always better to avoid chemical sunscreens on children, as their skin is more absolvent.

5. Pus In The Hair Follicles

Itchiness caused by sunscreens can worsen up to develop into bumpy red rashes. These can also end up turning into pus-filled blisters around the hair follicles.

Despite all the snags which sunscreens bring along, experts recommend wearing them rather than going out in the sun, unprotected. Although, they also suggest that you must, at the same time, thoroughly study and be careful about the ingredients of the sunscreen you chose for your skin. Therefore, know your skin to identify what suits it the best and make smart choices.



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Pauline Simons is a skin care expert by profession. She loves to share her knowledge and experience with people. She regularly contributes her write ups to health or skin care related websites and blogs. In her free time she loves to travel, fashion shows and music.

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