Interesting Information: Warning: Most Sun Screens Do NOT Prevent Skin-Damaging Radiation

Interesting Information:  July 28, 2014

Warning:  Most Sun Screens Do NOT Prevent Skin-Damaging Radiation


I drove up to Belfast this morning in Pea Soup Fog to shop at the Coop.  I retain my fascination with the mystery and softness of a dense Pea Soup Fog.  With this one, I could only see about 100 feet in front of the car.

On the way home, it rained buckets–a real gully washer.  Reynolds insisted on getting into my lap and hiding her head under my left arm.  The parking lot at Hannaford’s, where I stopped to get some cleaning supplies not available at the Belfast COOP (which immediately tells me something about those supplies), was wheel-high gushing water in its low spot.  Mercy!

But, on the way home, the noon Maine NPR station was discussing sunburn and sunblocks.  The guest “expert” was from the Environmental Working Group–which is more or less solid I think.  I do have some problems with the EWG.

Coincidentally, Dr. Joseph Mercola had sent out recently a post on sunblocks and sun protection, and the need for balance in that we get vitamin D from sun shining on our skin.

Here’s the thing I did not know until I read this post:  Sun Screens DO NOT protect your skin from UVA rays, and they are the ones that damage your skin and set into place the potential for skin cancers.

Here’s the explanation from Mercola’s post:


UVAs versus UVBs

So, how can you get the benefits without raising your risk for skin damage? It’s important to remember that the sun can either be helpful or harmful depending on what type of ultraviolet light you’re getting. The ultraviolet light from the sun comes in two main wavelengths:

  • Ultraviolet A (UVA) Considered the unhealthy wavelength because it penetrates your skin more deeply and cause more free radical damage. Sunblocks containing SPF filter out the beneficial UVB, not these cancer-causing UVAs, unless they also contain a UVA blocking ingredient.
  • As a result, wearing sunscreen may prevent you from burning, as excessive UVBs are the chief cause of sunburn, but you still receive a large amount of skin-damaging radiation. Moreover, UVA rays are constantly available, even on cloudy days.  There are likely some benefits to UVA in moderation that we do not fully understand, as there appears to be with many spectrums emitted from the sun.
  • Ultraviolet B (UVB) – This is the ‘healthy’ wavelength that helps your skin produce vitamin D. While both UVA and UVB can cause tanning and burning, UVB does so far more rapidly.
  • Contrary to UVAs, which are more readily available, UVB rays are low in morning and evening, and high at midday or solar noon, making this the most optimal time for vitamin D production (roughly between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.). Ironically, this is the timeframe most mainstream experts warn you to stay out of the sun.

How to Prevent and Treat Sunburn Naturally.

Mercola goes on to discuss healthy sun-exposure practices–the most important of which is to GET OUT OF THE SUN AFTER 10 OR SO MINUTES OF EXPOSURE IN THE HEAT OF THE DAY!!!

When I was growing up, our days at the beach were so special–it was time we all looked forward to all year.  We went to the beach around 10 a.m. and left just before noon.  We returned around 3:30 or 4:00 until, sometimes, close to dark.  WE NEVER LAY IN THE SUN AND “SUNNED” OURSELVES.  And we got plenty tanned.  We spent our time at the beach swimming, riding waves, and walking the tidal edge looking for shells.  

You know, in other eras, people protected their skin from the sun.  Today we equate a tan with health.

I don’t use sun blocks of any kind any longer–and we never did as children.  There is a strong correlation between today’s heavy use of the chemicals in sun blocks and cancer.  And, science has shown that many of the chemicals in sun blocks are dangerous.  The Environmental Working Group has lists of which sun screens are better than others.  And the speaker today kept emphasizing to RUB IN the chemicals so they are effective, that NO SUNBLOCK protects when washed away with water, and that the spray sunblocks are being investigated by the FDA on a number of accounts.  (Users don’t want to get their fingers “dirty” while rubbing in sunblocks–which is the height of…what???…misguidedness, at the very least.)

Here are the “rules” from my childhood–you know, that time when no one had heard the word “cancer”–leave the beach by noon, don’t go back until late afternoon, wear a hat when out of the water, on really hot days wear an old t-shirt to swim, and protect your skin from the sun in the heat of the day with long-sleeved shirts, yes, but seek out the shade in the heat of the day.  Truthfully, after a morning of riding waves and a hearty lunch, an hour or two reading or playing games was a nice change.  Even the hardier types often fell into naps–which was relaxing and enabled staying up very late at night to enjoy a beach fire or chasing ghost crabs at the edge of the dunes.