Safe Sun Protection

Too much sun, too little sun? Which sunscreen do I choose to ensure that my family and I are protected from the harmful rays of the sun, while at the same time benefiting from all that this amazing source of life, light and warmth provides for our health?  What are the potential dangers of common sunscreen ingredients?

There are three types of ultraviolet radiation – UVA, UVB and UVC. UVC rays do not reach the earth’s surface and therefore are not linked to skin cancer risk in their naturally occurring form from the sun.  (1)

The main culprits are UVA and UVB. UVB rays burn your skin whilst UVA is blamed for damage such as wrinkling, leathering and sagging. UVA rays exacerbate the carcinogenic effects of UVB rays and are increasingly being seen as a cause of skin cancer in their own right.

When it comes to sunscreens, the SPF (Sun Protection Factor) measures a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin. Reddening of the skin is the reaction of UVB rays alone, it does not indicate the UVA damage you are experiencing. To ensure you are best protected, it is important to select a broad spectrum sunscreen – meaning protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

In the table below, Dr Sarah Lantz (2) outlines the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) table of chemical and physical sunscreen ingredients as well as the type and amount of protection that they provide and their class. All chemical sunscreen ingredients listed provide either UVA or UVB or a partial combination. The physical sunscreen ingredients are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, however only zinc oxide provides extensive UVA and UVB broad spectrum protection.

Not only do chemical sunscreen ingredients fail to provide extensive UVA and UVB protection, but most also carry a potential toxicity risk, especially for young children, as the active ingredient chemicals are easily absorbed through the skin, the body’s largest organ. The latest research is beginning to discover some serious problems with conventional sunscreens. Always read your labels and be cautious of the following ingredients:

  •  octyl-methoxycinnamate – produces free radicals known to be toxic to cells
  • titanium dioxide – causes DNA damage when exposed to light
  • oxybenzone – is rapidly oxidised in the presence of light and inactivates important antioxidant systems in the skin (the skin’s natural protection system)
  • PABA – produces free radicals in the presence of light

The Miessence Reflect Outdoor Balm contains zinc oxide as its sun protection ingredient. Zinc oxide is known to be the best broad spectrum sunscreen ingredient and protects from UVB (burning) as well as UVA (aging and cellular damage).

  • Zinc Oxide has a 300 year plus history of safety, with no known adverse reactions.
  • Zinc Oxide is recognized by the FDA as a Category 1 skin protectant.
    • Reflect Outdoor Balm is Biological Farmers Association (BFA) certified.
    • There are no nano-particles in Reflect Outdoor Balm.  Rather, the zinc is micronized, which is a physical crushing of the zinc oxide into larger micro-sized particles.
  • Microfine zinc oxide offers protection from harmful ultraviolet rays and organic olive oil keeps the skin supple.
  • Potent antioxidants including vitamin E, organic rosemary leaf and carrot seed extract, protect the skin from premature aging and prevent damage caused by the elements.

Due to Australian regulations, to claim an SPF greater than 15, Miessence would have to manufacture Reflect Outdoor Balm in a licensed SPF facility instead of their own manufacturing plant, which would significantly increase the cost of the product. However, third party testing has rated it with a SPF level of 29.5.

Whilst using a safe broad spectrum sunscreen is very important, we also can look at protecting ourselves from the inside out – so called “internal sun protection”. Consuming a diet full of antioxidants is another useful strategy to help counter skin damage from exposure to UV rays.




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