Dr. Robin answers your questions about sun protection
- What are UVA and UVB rays?
- What does SPF measure and what are its limitations?
- What does SPF 30+ mean?
- What number SPF should I use for my child and myself?
- What natural, chemical-free sunscreen ingredients provide UVA protection?
- What chemical sunscreen ingredients provide UVA protection?
- How do Dr. Robin's chemical-free sunscreen ingredients work?
- How does Dr. Robin's sunscreen compare to other chemical-free sunscreens?
- How do chemical-based sunscreens work?
- Is there any advantage to using chemical-based sunscreens?
- What other ingredients should I look for in a sunscreen?
- Why does Dr. Robin's sunscreen avoid ingredients like phthalates, fragrance & parabens?
- Why does baby skin need extra protection?
- How do I apply sunscreen?
- Does clothing offer any sun protection?
- If I wear sunscreen every days, should I be concerned about getting enough Vitamin D?
- What does "waterproof" sunscreen mean?
What are UVA and UVB rays?
The sun emits many different kinds of rays, including visible light rays and ultraviolet (invisible) rays. Ultraviolet rays can be divided into two main types: Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays and Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.
UVA rays are the longest, penetrate the deepest and can impact the skin through glass and water. Overexposure to UVA rays supes the skin's immune response, causes DNA mutations and can lead to skin cancer. UVA rays also damage collagen and elastin causing premature skin aging and since UVA rays stimulate the production of pigment in the skin, they also can exacerbate brown spots and hyper-pigmentation.
Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays affect the outer layers of the skin and are known as “burning” rays because they cause sunburn. Like UVA rays, UVB rays can damage the skin's DNA and cause skin cancer.What does SPF measure and what are its limitations?
Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is a FDA rating system that determines how long a sunscreen product provides protection against sunburn.
For example, if you normally burn within 10 minutes of sun exposure, an SPF 2 will allow you to stay outside twice as long (i.e. 20 minutes). An SPF 15 would theoretically allow you to stay outside 15 times longer (10 minutes x 15 = 150 minutes or 2.5 hours.) Even with this promise of 2.5 hours of protection, sunscreen should be applied every two hours because it loses its effectiveness as it breaks down and rubs off from normal wear and perspiration.
Current SPF ratings only measure UVB protection, not UVA. But it's still important to use products that protect against UVA rays, either with chemical-based blockers or natural, chemical-free ingredients like those found in Dr. Robin's sunscreen.What does SPF 30+ mean?
SPF 30+ is the highest rating of sun protection allowed by the FDA. An SPF 30+ gives you maximum protection, screening out 98 percent of UVB rays. However, wearing sunscreen should not provide a false sense of security about prolonged sun exposure. No sunscreen provides 100 percent protection from UVB or UVA rays.
Some sunscreens have ratings like SPF 50, 70 or even 85 but products higher than SPF 30 do not provide significantly more UV protection. The FDA currently proposes that sunscreen manufacturers not be allowed to claim an SPF rating above 30 with the highest meaningful rating being 30+.
Finally, sunscreens are considered an Over-the-Counter Drug by the FDA, which means they are subject to regulation and require validation testing to determine safety and efficacy. To ensure your sunscreen has been properly approved and tested by FDA standards, the government issues a National Drug Code (NDC) number. If you don't see it on the packaging, request it from the company.What number SPF should I use for my child and myself?
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends an SPF 15 or higher. However, for babies and children, particularly those with sensitive or fair skin, Dr. Robin recommends a chemical-free SPF 30+ sunscreen.What natural, chemical-free sunscreen ingredients provide UVA protection?
Ecamsule (Mexoryl SX)
Meradimate (Menthyl Anthranilate)
Dr. Robin's specially formulated chemical-free sunscreen is made with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, natural minerals that are scientifically proven to be the most gentle and effective way to block BOTH UVA and UVB rays. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide provide immediate protection because they physically block. These naturally occuring minerals act like a mirror, deflecting the sun away from the skin, minimizing the impact of ultraviolet rays. Because the skin does not absorb these inert ingredients, they're less likely to cause irritation or allergic reaction.How does Dr. Robin's sunscreen compare to other chemical-free sunscreens?
Dr. Robin spent over two years developing her all natural, mineral-based sunscreen formula because she was frustrated by the quality of other chemical-free sunscreens, which are traditionally thick, difficult to spread and often leave behind a chalky residue. Working with a manufacturer in Southern California, Dr. Robin created her unique formula using micronized titanium oxide and zinc oxide, a special SPF booster and quick fade technology to produce an elegant, easily absorbed sunscreen.How do chemical-based sunscreens work?
Chemical sunscreen ingredients, like avobenzone or oxybenzone, for example, are synthetic substances that absorb UV light before it can impact the skin. However, these synthetic substances can penetrate the skin and are more likely to cause irritation or allergic reaction, especially on young, sensitive skin.Is there any advantage to using chemical-based sunscreens?
Chemical-based sunscreens are easier to formulate into a variety of different products like gels, sprays, lotions, wipes. These alternatives may enable easier application, especially on squirmy kids, but Dr. Robin tells her patients that chemical-free, mineral-based sunscreen is the best way to protect young, sensitive skin.
Whether you choose a chemical-based sunscreen or one with all natural, chemical-free ingredients, please do a patch test first to make sure your child doesn't have an adverse reaction.What other ingredients should I look for in a sunscreen?
There is some scientific evidence that antioxidants like, Vitamins C and E, soy and green tea extract, may boost sunscreen efficacy by protecting the skin from free radical damage.Why does Dr. Robin's sunscreen avoid ingredients like phthalates, fragrance and parabens?
Dr. Robin formulated her SPF 30+ sunscreen without any unnecessary additives or chemicals that can be harmful or irritating to young, sensitive skin.
Recent reports have suggested that phthalates, an ingredient used primarily in synthetic fragrances and found in some baby products, may be endocrine disruptors. Until more definitive evidence is available, Dr. Robin's sunscreen has been formulated without phthalates.
Even naturally derived fragrance or organic fragrance extracts can be irritating to children's sensitive skin so the only scent you'll smell in Dr. Robin's sunscreen is the aroma of the ingredients – nothing extra to mask our streamlined formula.
Like phthalates, parabens (a class of preservatives) have received some negative attention, linking them to a higher risk of breast cancer. Again, until there is more conclusive evidence, Dr. Robin's sunscreen uses an alternative preservative that safely gives her product a two-year shelf life.Why does baby skin need extra protection?
Baby skin is delicate and fragile which makes it more prone to irritation from skin care products, including sunscreen. That's why Dr. Robin recommends using a chemical-free, mineral-based sunscreen on your little ones.
Even though the skin is equipped with natural sun protection found in melanin (the pigment that gives skin its color), it takes several years for melanin to fully develop making baby's skin especially at risk for sunburn and other sun damage.
Sunburns are also painful and can be dangerous for babies and toddlers. While it's true that children with darker pigmented skin are less likely to burn, the Skin Cancer Foundation has stated that 50-80% percent of our lifetime damage to the skin occurs before the age of 18 and that at least 90% of all skin cancers result from excessive exposure to sunlight. According to the Mayo Clinic, children or teenagers, who experience at least two blistering sunburns, significantly increase their risk of developing skin cancer.How do I apply sunscreen?
Apply sunscreen liberally before sun exposure. Most people use too little. In fact, according to a study published in the Archives of Dermatology, sunscreen users only apply 50 percent of the recommended amount so they are only receiving 50 percent of the SPF protection.
An average adult in a bathing suit requires one ounce (equivalent to two tablespoons or shot glass full) of sunscreen to cover the entire body. For small children, one tablespoon should be used on the entire body. The same amounts should be reapplied after two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating.Does clothing offer any sun protection?
Clothing offers some protection but not enough. For example, a white T-shirt has an SPF of about 7 (this decreases to about 4 when wet). In general, looser weave cotton and lighter colored fabrics offer less protection than denser weaves and darker colors. It is very important to protect your child with sunscreen when outdoors even under clothing. Of course, you can now buy sun-protective clothing made from fabric specifically designed to block UV rays.If I wear sunscreen every day, should I be concerned about getting enough Vitamin D?
Recently there has been some debate about whether the risk of UV exposure outweighs the benefits of getting Vitamin D from the sun. Even though sun exposure can help vitamin D production in the skin, intentional, unprotected sun exposure is not a safe way to get Vitamin D. Until more research is done, it's probably wise to rely on dietary sources of Vitamin D, which can be found in salmon, sardines, shiitake mushrooms, and egg yolks as well as Vitamin D supplements.What does "waterproof" sunscreen mean?
There is no such thing as a completely waterproof sunscreen. There are inactive ingredients that make some sunscreens more water resistant than others but even if your sunscreen is labeled water resistant, it is still important to reapply after swimming and sweating.