What we once knew about protecting our skin from the sun’s rays began centuries ago when the ancient Greeks used olive oil to hydrate their skin and help keep it from burning. Our knowledge on how to protect our skin continues to evolve with a recent pilot study conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates all drugs including topicals such as sunscreen.
The study raised some questions and confirmed a theory. Of the four active sunscreen components tested – avobenzone, octocrylene, oxybenzone, ecamsule – it was proven they were absorbed by the skin and entered the bloodstream. This does not mean they are unsafe. But because they are absorbed into the bloodstream after only one day of use and accumulate in the body with continued use, the pilot study raised questions about the safety of sunscreen ingredients, as well as usage, forms, and absorption rates.
The FDA began regulating sunscreen in the 1970s. There are multiple reasons for further testing now:
- Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. More people are using more sunscreen to diminish their chances of such a diagnosis.
- Formulations of sunscreen products use more active ingredients, in higher concentrations and are found in more products.
- These active ingredients are often combined with other ingredients.
- Scientists’ ability to measure benefits and risks are better now than they were then.
If you are concerned, the FDA did spotlight two active sunscreen ingredients that were proven to be safe and effective – Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide – both of which are minerals that provide broad spectrum protection from harmful UVA radiation. Of course, you can also seek shade, wear lightweight clothing and hats. Another ways is to know which topicals and ingested ingredients can offer some protection as well. You can find alternative skin protection ideas here.
We always advocate for reading labels on products. The label will inform you on what ingredients the product contains, where it comes from, and how to use it. Be aware that some active ingredients in sunscreen may prevent sunburn but do nothing to prevent skin cancer and premature aging due to sun exposure.
The FDA study has brought attention to product safety issues, product labeling, UVA protection, and delivery systems including sprays. Sunscreen is found in more products than you might think. It is added to some face primers, moisturizers, setting sprays, matte tints, correcting creams and lip balms making it hard to know what dosage your skin is actually getting. You may want to read why YASOU Skincare does not contain sunscreen.
Previous government tests on oils have affirmed what the ancient Greeks practiced in protecting their skin. Tests showed that among the fixed oils tested, olive oil had the highest SPF value at 7.5. Coconut oil had the second highest value at 7.1. These natural oils contain tocopherols, carotenoids and essential fatty acids which are all good for the skin. However, don’t mistake these as a substitute for proven UVB and UVA protection.
As we increase our knowledge about sunscreen and how best to protect our skin and our bloodstream, we hope natural oils will be recognized informulating cosmetics and skincare products. Afterall, oil is a priority element in the formulation of lotions and creams. Here are just some of the benefits from olive oil in your skincare product