Sun Protection

Sun Protection

By Terry Sovil


sun-protectionWho hasn’t sunburned on a prized vacation? What can you do for protection? With over 1700 products on the market which ones really work?   Skin cancer is increasingly common so choices you make could have real impact. How are suntan lotions, sunscreens and sun blocks different?   What exactly do you need protection from?   All products offer some level of protection; the important difference is in how much protection.

Your goal is protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.  There are two types:  UVA and UVB.  UVA rays are “ultraviolet A” rays.  These penetrate the skin, break down collagen and can trigger connective-tissue damage resulting in wrinkles and skin cancers. UVA rays are present all day and penetrate clouds and glass.  UVB rays are “ultraviolet B” rays.  These cause sunburn on the surface of the skin. Most sunscreen products focus primarily on blocking UVB rays. You want protection from both UVA and UVB rays.

A suntan lotion (sunscreen) offers less protection than a sunblock; it is used to tan without burning. A sunblock will block as much as possible.  Galt Technology, established 1995, has one of the oldest web sites on the web and has distinguished themselves in their studies. They review, test and rate products of all kinds including sunscreens. 

With skin cancer sharply increasing a report released in 2010 by EWG drew much attention.  The year-long study showed many of the products on the market may actually accelerate cancer by increasing the speed malignant cells develop and spread.  The ingredient blamed is Vitamin A labeled “Retinol” and “Retinyl palmitate.”

The study showed the inclusion of Vitamin A caused tumors and lesions to develop up to 21% faster in lab animals than in creams Vitamin A free.  The FDA (USA Food and Drug Administration) appears to have known for over a decade yet released no guidelines or warnings. In June, 2010, Senator Schumer asked the FDA to share data on the possible sunscreen chemical-cancer link.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma – Usually found in places on the body that have been exposed to the sun, like ears, the face and the mouth. Symptoms include a bump that turns into an open sore, gets larger and a sore that won’t heal. Untreated, it can spread quickly to other parts of the body (lymphatic system, bloodstream, and nerve routes).

Basal Cell Carcinoma – Causes more than 75% of skin cancers, it is the most common skin cancer. Most commonly found on the face, neck, and hands. It is highly treatable and rarely spreads. Symptoms include a sore that oozes or bleeds, a redness area that is irritated, a yellow or white area that resembles a scar, and a pink pearly bump.

Melanoma – The most dangerous and deadly; it can develop on any part of the body, but arms, legs and trunk are the most common areas. Detected early, it is highly treatable. Symptoms include a mole, freckle, or new/existing spot that changes color in size, shape, and color. It may have an irregular outline and possibly be more than one color.

Is a product a drug or a cosmetic? It is often determined by its intended use and any manufacturer claims.  If a claim is made that indicates a product is a drug it cannot be marketed as a cosmetic. If the drug-related claim is removed the product may be classified as a cosmetic.


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