The Internet Times Supplement

Suntan or Sunscreen?

In Health & Beauty on August 3, 2009 at 12:47 pm

With holiday season in full swing many people are stepping out of the shade and into the sun. There has been a lot of coverage on the risks to your skin with plenty of advice from government health departments, magazines, and advertising warning about the dangers of sunbathing and the need to cover up. Note the ‘cover up’ phrase. This does not simply mean dip yourself in a barrel of scented lard.

Where we live in southern Spain, the general rule of thumb we give to those of the pasty flesh is to be in the sun for a maximum of twenty minutes for the first few days. With no clouds to be seen and low pollution levels the effects of the sun are unforgiving. For the past month the temperatures have been in the mid to high 30C’s (95-105F) but it has cooled down a tad over the past few days. Despite this, only yesterday we watched a family of lardy English holiday makers who had probably arrived the day before stretch out their over-burdened carcasses on sun beds and proceed to George Foreman themselves for 7 hours. We have lived here for many years and, despite having acquired natural tans, we sit for the most part in the shade. Even so, we managed to acquire a level of minor ‘burning’ from our trips to swim in the pool.

It would seem that not is all simple with regard to covering up using many of the products available over the counter. What factor to use is not necessarily an indicator of the effectiveness of blocking the suns rays nor is the price. Additionally there is the issue regarding what exactly are the ingredients of the chemicals that people smear over their bodies. Given that is IS known that “around one in five of the British population (and one in four white British) will develop skin cancer at some stage in their lives” perhaps people should have a serious re-think regarding their intake of high levels of Vitamin D. At the same time it is important to note that there are some serious questions being raised with regard to the ingredients of “sun-blockers” and (although skewed to American products) this database has a list that you can use to compare ingredients and the hazards they present.

A quote from the Environmental Working Group sums it up succinctly:

“EWG research shows that 84% of 910 name-brand sunscreen products offer inadequate protection from the sun, or contain ingredients, like oxybenzone, with significant safety concerns.”

More information here.

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