What do you REALLY know about the sun-screen that you lovingly slap all over yourself and your precious families bodies?!!

Manufacturers in most countries and many dermatologists insist that the higher the SPF rating, the better protected you are from the sun, while leading scientists studying sun protection maintain that an SPF of between 15 and 20 is enough to protect the skin. An SPF 15 filters out about 95 percent of UVB rays and an SPF 30 filters out around 97 percent of the UVB rays. No amount of SPF will block out 100% of UV rays.

But what about the UVA rays? In most countries, there are no numbers to tell you about protection from UVA rays. You need to look at ingredients for protection against UVA radiation, and these need to be listed near the top, in the active ingredients. These ingredients include zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, avobenzone (also known as Parsol 1789 or butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane), Mexoryl SX, or Tinosorb.

Sunscreens that claim to be “waterproof” are now believed to be misleading, and the word has been banned in some countries. The word “sunblock” is not considered accurate either as the creams do not block 100 percent of the UV rays. You need to reapply your sunscreen after swimming and perspiration.

The best sunscreen will include antioxidants that mop up the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are charged atoms that cause damage to the genetic code of the cell, leading to complex, abnormal tissue growth patterns.

Choose a sunscreen that includes antioxidants, so the free radicals caused by the ultraviolet light breaking down the O2 molecule can be neutralised before the damage starts. Environ RAD sunscreen includes vitamins C and E and beta-carotene. Good quality mineral powders like Jane Iredale offer protection from the sun by reflecting the rays off of the skin and also the Skinnies Beauty Gel contains the valuable Vitamin E.  Reapply your antioxidant-rich sunscreen every two hours or after swimming and exercise.

In addition, eat a variety of fruit and vegetables as this helps to increase the anti-oxidant levels and aids in protecting the skin from the inside.

Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that can help to protect the skin from UV damage and the redness caused by the UV rays. Studies show that lycopene is increased by cooking and rendering the tomatoes down to a paste or sauce.

To be sun-wise enjoy some sun on your arms and legs but keep the exposure to between 10 and 20 minutes. Between 11am and 3pm seek shade. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and clothing in close-weaved cotton to protect your skin. Keep reapplying your antioxidant-rich sunscreen, sit back and relax with your antipasto including sun-dried tomatoes.

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