Thursday, February 14, 2008
I have a healthVest™ which is an exercise harness that travels everywhere with me. It allows me to do resistance and aerobic training simultaneously – right in the heart of Shanghai if I want to. The resistance is provided by rubber tubing which I pull when I walk. If it’s nice out, I attach my dog’s lead to the belt and we walk together. Every once in a while, one of the tubes snaps and I have to replace it. I asked the inventor why the tubes snap more in the summer than the winter. His answer was ultraviolet light which degrades the tubing.
Oh, my! If UV can do that to rubber tubing what does it do to our skins? Now that’s a scary thought. Enter sunscreens! Unfortunately, no sunscreen can protect you from all the photons that bombard us daily, but some can do more than others. I’m amazed how much confusion there is around sunscreens these days. It’s something the FDA is working to unravel.
In its most simplistic form your SPF helps to protect you from UVB rays. These are short rays that enter the top layer of your skin and burn you. That is all the SPF protection is required to do.
There’s another more dangerous ray called UVA which is a longer ray and goes deeper into the skin. This is the ray that causes tanning – the body’s response to injury. In the industry we call UVB the burning ray and UVA the aging ray because it destroys the mattress of the skin the collagen and elastic layers. It also does a lot more than that, such as weakening your immune system. This is the ray tanning beds use. These beds are often referred to as time machines on fast forward!
It doesn’t matter how high the SPF rating is; it does not protect you from UVA rays. Presently, the FDA has not approved a method for testing UVA protection. Europe, Japan, Australia and some other countries have had established testing for years. The FDA now has the Japanese method under consideration to approve for the US. We’re hoping that something will happen this year on that.
In the meantime, the best you can do is to look for a “broad spectrum” designation which indicates some UVA protection but doesn’t tell you how much. Alternatively, you may see something like this: UVA/UVB Sunscreen, SPF 30 which also indicates UVA protection. You’ll see this designation on our latest product Powder-Me SPF.
To be continued………….