How Sunscreen Protects Against Skin Damage

How Sunscreen Protects Against Skin Damage

Harvard Health mentions that sunscreen is instrumental in protecting a person’s skin from harmful radiation from the sun, but many statements made online may be misleading. Unfortunately, most people put a lot of faith into what the internet has to say. Some assertions of sunscreen claim that it may be dangerous to someone using them. How many of these statements are backed up by deep scientific study? From a cursory glance of their contents, it seems that none of them are since they don’t reference peer-reviewed studies. Even so, it’s concerning to someone who may want to use sunscreen if they don’t know how the chemicals work to protect their skin.

Types of Sunscreen

It might not be immediately apparent, but sunscreen uses two different methods to block the sun’s rays. The first type, known as physical blockers, bounces back UV rays from the sun. They usually use one of two chemical compounds – zinc oxide or titanium oxide. The second type is known as chemical blockers, utilizing several chemicals to absorb the radiation from the sun’s rays to prevent cancer formation. The most prominent villain in online smear campaigns is oxybenzone, used in many chemical blockers. It is claimed that oxybenzone could be a hormone disruptor that may lead to problems with the body’s production of one or more hormones. However, there are no scientific studies to back up this suggestion.

Nanoparticles and Physical Blockers

As mentioned before, most physical blockers use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. They’re usually contained within the sunscreen as nanoparticles and make it easier for the sunscreen to be absorbed into the skin. That’s why today’s sunscreens are less greasy than their predecessors. These particles are too small for the human eye to see, but their presence has raised the question of whether they may leach into the body and lead to disorders. However, according to EWG, no scientific studies show that these nanoparticles penetrate any further into the body past the skin. Without these chemicals, sunscreens would be a lot greasier to use and leave you with that icky feeling on your fingers after applying them. Anyone who intends to use them in their physical blockers can rest easy knowing that they won’t feel negative fallout from zinc and titanium nanoparticles.

Does Sunscreen Even Work?

Sunscreen and spray tan both have notable usefulness when it comes to preventing sunburn. The journal Dermatologic Surgery notes that they can even avoid the long-term signs of photoaging (aging from sun exposure). All of the science points towards a chemical that can serve as an excellent way to stop being on the receiving end of both sunburns and cancer-causing UV radiation. One of the pervading myths that hang around sunscreen is that those with darker skin can avoid using it. The truth is that these products can provide a barrier against melanoma, a formation, regardless of the darkness of a person’s skin. It’s always better to take precautions instead of leaving it to chance. When the opportunity to go outside arises, sunscreen is probably the best way to avoid skin cancer.