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Broad spectrum sunscreens

Be sun smart! Take our 'True or False' quiz
Be sun smart! Take our 'True or False' quiz
1. The clothing you wear will protect your skin from UV rays.
FALSE: Do this test: take any piece of clothing and hold it up to a bright light. If you can see through it, it does not offer UV protection. There are UV laundry aids on the market today – you can wash them right into your clothing to add UV protection. But always be sure to apply an SPF. 
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2. You don’t need to worry about sun exposure if you have a darker skin tone.
FALSE: Skin cancer strikes all people, regardless of their skin color. While it’s true that people with lighter skin coloring are more prone to skin burning, people of color can get melanoma, too. Did you know that famous Jamaican singer Bob Marley developed deadly melanoma on his foot?

3. If you wear a makeup with SPF, you don’t need a separate SPF product.
FALSE: Makeup formulated with SPF will only protect the skin sufficiently if you apply a LOT of it, and if you reapply it every 90 minutes! And, according to a recent study from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, most SPF makeup products skimp on UVA-blocking ingredients – UVA rays which cause not only skin aging but skin cancer. So don’t rely solely on SPF makeup – apply a broad spectrum SPF moisturizer first.
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What are the Signs of Sun Damage?

Sun damage comes with both immediate and long-term signs.


A TAN: That's right. All it takes to start the process of sun damage is a tan. It's the very first sign of injury to the top layer of your skin. A tan develops when UV light accelerates the production of melanin (that's the dark pigment in the epidermis that gives your skin its normal color). The extra melanin — produced to protect the deeper layers of your skin — creates the darker color of a tan. It's your body's way of blocking out the ultraviolet rays to prevent further injury to the skin, but this protection only goes so far. Next stop . . .a sunburn.

A SUNBURN: Eventually, the extra melanin that developed with your tan can no longer protect against continuing UV rays. Without further protection, your skin goes from a tan to a burn — bringing pain, redness and swelling. Depending on the severity of the burn, any dead, damaged skin may peel away to make room for new, more vulnerable skin cells.

A sunburn is a clear sign that UV radiation (from the natural sun or artificial sun beds) has damaged the genetic material (DNA) in your skin cells. This damage can lead to skin cancer. In fact, getting a painful sunburn just once every two years can triple the risk of melanoma.*     


The Pain

The symptoms of pain you feel from a sunburn is your body’s attempt to repair the damage caused by the burn.*


The Peeling

Your skin is damaged after a sunburn, and the peeling you experience is your body’s way of getting rid of the damaged cells. This is necessary because sun damaged cells are at risk of becoming cancerous.* Even though new skin layers of skin form, some damage may remain, and there may be an increased risk of skin cancer.*


A Sunburn vs. a Hot object burn

Sunburns are caused by the sun’s UV rays – which do not feel warm. (That’s why you can get a sunburn on a cool, cloudy day). When a hot object is touched (like hot stove), skin can become red and painful, but there is not DNA damage done to cells, as it is with the sunburn. Only the sunburn can have lasting effects on the body.

Though the symptoms of a sunburn may fade after several days, the damage to your skin remains. Sun exposure that is intense enough to cause a burn can also damage the DNA of your skin cells (that's the genetic material inside each cell that controls cell function). This can start less than 5 minutes after UV exposure begins, resulting in long-term damage.


Some of the long-term signs of sun damage include:


UNEVEN PIGMENTATION: Sun damage can cause an uneven increase in melanocytes, which produce irregular coloring or pigmentation on your skin.


BROKEN CAPILLARIES: The sun can cause a permanent stretching (dilation) of small blood vessels - giving your skin a mottled, reddish appearance.


SOLAR LENTIGINES: (also referred to as liver spots or age spots) These flat spots of increased pigmentation - usually brown, black, or gray - can appear in areas most exposed to the sun. Solar lentigines tend to become more numerous with repeated sun exposure and with advancing age.


And that’s not all! Almost 90% of the visible changes commonly attributed to aging are caused by the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays.**


*Source: CancerResearchUK.org

**Source: Skin Cancer Foundation

UVA vs. UVB Rays

The sun's UV rays can pierce right through your paper-thin epidermis, and most of it happens when you least expect it! About two-thirds of all sun damage is incidental*, or the exposure you receive from day-in, day-out activities (driving, walking the dog, brunch with friends). That's about 75% of your lifetime sun exposure. In other words, it's not beach vacations that age you - it's your daily life! Even on hazy or rainy days, 80% of UV rays will reach you through the clouds*. But not all UV rays are created equal.  


UVA rays are long, penetrating the deepest - all the way to your dermis, where blood vessels and nerves are found. Damaged caused includes premature aging – wrinkles, lines, age spots, etc.

UVB rays are short, really energetic 'burning' rays that reach just below the skin's surface. Damage caused includes sunburn and certain skin cancers.

UV Index: What is This?

The UV index number forecasts the intensity of ultraviolet (UV) light during the solar noon hour for any given day. It's measured on a scale of 0 to 11 and the higher the number — the higher the risk of sun damage. So, for example, a UV Index reading of 8 means there's a very high risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure.


Always keep an eye on the Index – but no matter what it reads, always keep applying a broad-spectrum broad spectrum sunscreeneveryday.

How to Choose a Broad Spectrum Sunscreen

A sunscreen’s SPF number indicates its amount of protection from UVB rays. By choosing a broad spectrum sunscreen, you’ll know you are protecting your skin from the risk of early skin aging and skin cancer.


The term SPF means "Sun Protection Factor." SPF measures a sunscreen's ability to prevent UVB radiation from burning the skin. If you'd normally burn in 10 minutes, SPF 15 multiplies that by a factor of 15, meaning you could go 150 minutes before burning. But contrary to what you might think, SPF 30 isn't twice as strong as SPF 15. The number you see on the bottle of a sunscreen tells you how much longer you can be in the sun before you burn. It's all relative to your tendency to burn without wearing a sunscreen.


No matter what broad spectrum SPF you pick, it’s important to re-apply every 2 hours if you are planning to spend the day in the sun.


The FDA recently changed its sunscreen rules to help clearly define which formulas are broad spectrum, and therefore reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging.  The new regulations require stricter testing and labeling for all sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or

greater, so broad spectrum and skin cancer risk reduction claims can be clearly defined on packaging. It will make choosing the right sunscreen easier – without any guesswork or confusion.


there will be 2 types of sunscreens on the market:


1. Sunscreens that help prevent skin cancer, sunburn and early skin aging - these will be labeled Broad Spectrum and have an SPF of 15 or higher. Only sunscreens labeled “broad spectrum” protect skin from both UVA and UVB rays. All Bioelements broad spectrum sunscreens fall into this category. These have passed the FDA’s strict broad spectrum guidelines and carry the statement “decreases the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging.”

2. Sunscreens that only help prevent sunburn: These sunscreens will NOT be labeled “Broad Spectrum”; they will only have an SPF number. They will not have passed the FDA’s strict broad spectrum testing, and they will carry this warning: “This product has been shown to only help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.”

The FDA will also ban manufacturers from using the words “sweat proof” and “waterproof” to describe sunscreens.

*Source: American Academy of Dermatology

Do you Apply Enough SPF?

A sunscreen’s SPF number indicates its amount of protection from UVB rays. By choosing a broad spectrum sunscreen, you’ll know you are protecting your skin from the risk of early skin aging and skin cancer.


The term SPF means "Sun Protection Factor." SPF measures a sunscreen's ability to prevent UVB radiation from burning the skin. If you'd normally burn in 10 minutes, SPF 15 multiplies that by a factor of 15, meaning you could go 150 minutes before burning. But contrary to what you might think, SPF 30 isn't twice as strong as SPF 15. The number you see on the bottle of a sunscreen tells you how much longer you can be in the sun before you burn. It's all relative to your tendency to burn without wearing a sunscreen.


No matter what broad spectrum SPF you pick, it’s important to re-apply every 2 hours if you are planning to spend the day in the sun.


The FDA recently changed its sunscreen rules to help clearly define which formulas are broad spectrum, and therefore reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging.  The new regulations require stricter testing and labeling for all sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or

greater, so broad spectrum and skin cancer risk reduction claims can be clearly defined on packaging. It will make choosing the right sunscreen easier – without any guesswork or confusion.


there will be 2 types of sunscreens on the market:


1. Sunscreens that help prevent skin cancer, sunburn and early skin aging - these will be labeled Broad Spectrum and have an SPF of 15 or higher. Only sunscreens labeled “broad spectrum” protect skin from both UVA and UVB rays. All Bioelements broad spectrum sunscreens fall into this category. These have passed the FDA’s strict broad spectrum guidelines and carry the statement “decreases the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging.”

2. Sunscreens that only help prevent sunburn: These sunscreens will NOT be labeled “Broad Spectrum”; they will only have an SPF number. They will not have passed the FDA’s strict broad spectrum testing, and they will carry this warning: “This product has been shown to only help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.”

The FDA will also ban manufacturers from using the words “sweat proof” and “waterproof” to describe sunscreens.

*Source: American Academy of Dermatology


Only 14%** of respondents in a recent survey by the American Academy of Dermatology wear a SPF moisturizer as part of their daily skin care. But even if you include yourself in that 14%, most people only apply 25-50% of the recommended amount of sunscreen? And if you’re not wearing enough, you’re not protecting yourself from the UVA and UVB rays that can cause skin cancer and early skin aging.


For the Face:

A couple of pea-size amounts to cover the entire face.


For the Body:

One ounce, enough to fill a shot glass, to cover the exposed areas of the body. Adjust the amount of sunscreen applied depending on your body size.


Wondering how much to apply for even more of your favorite skin care products – like eye products, masks or cleansers? Click here.

**Source: American Academy of Dermatology

The facts on skin cancer
  • Half of all cancers in the U.S. are skin cancers*
  • Every year, more than 3.5 million new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed in the US. UV ray exposure is the most preventable cause of skin cancer.** 
  • A broad spectrum sunscreen can prevent the risk of skin cancer when used as directed.
  • One in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.***
  • About 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.***
  • The incidence of many common cancers is falling, but the incidence of melanoma continues to rise at a rate faster than that of any of the seven most common cancers. Between 1992 and 2004, melanoma incidence increased 45 percent, or 3.1 percent annually. ***
  • One or more blistering sunburns in childhood or adolescence more than double a person's chances of developing melanoma later in life; A person's risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns at any age.***

* source: American Cancer Society
**source: American Academy of Dermatology
***source: The Skin Cancer Foundation

Indoor tanning - the facts & the risks

Indoor tanning might seem like a controlled way to get a glow without sun damage, or get your “base tan” before a vacation, but there is no such thing as a healthy tan! You encounter the same UV rays in a tanning bed as you do from the sun - sometimes they are even stronger -  and both are known to be carcinogenic. Bioelements believes that no one should use indoor tanning equipment. According to skincancer.org, a recent indoor tanning study showed that children of women who tan indoors are more likely to be indoor tanners themselves. The study found that young women whose first indoor ultraviolet (UV) tanning experience is with their mothers are more than 4.6 times more likely to become heavy tanners.

Here are the facts on indoor tanning*:

  • Indoor ultraviolet (UV) tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors.

  • People who use tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma.

  • Ten minutes in a sunbed matches the cancer-causing effects of 10 minutes in the Mediterranean summer sun.

  • Nearly 30 million people tan indoors in the U.S. every year; 2.3 million of them are teens.

*source: American Academy of Dermatology

The Truth Behind Vitamin D and the Sun
Our bodies need vitamin D to use calcium and phosphorus – minerals that are necessary for building strong bones and healthy bodies. But while its true that vitamin D can come from the sun, the experts at the American Academy of Dermatology warn that there is no scientifically proven safe amount of UV exposure that will increase your vitamin D without increasing your skin cancer risk. The best way to get your vitamin D is from dietary sources.

UV rays can cause premature aging of the skin and skin cancer. There is significant scientific evidence to support this fact, which is why the World Health Organization's International Agency of Research on Cancer classifies UV radiation from the sun and tanning devices as a known carcinogen (cancer-causing agent). UV exposure also can lead to cataracts and suppressed immune responses.4 There is no scientifically proven safe amount of ultraviolet exposure to increase your vitamin D without increasing your skin cancer risk.

UV radiation from both sun exposure (natural) or indoor tanning (artificial) can lead to the development of skin cancer. Get your vitamin D from a healthy diet, including naturally enriched vitamin D foods (like fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel, eggs, and dried shiitake mushrooms, soy milk, and cheese. You can also take vitamin D supplements (always consult with your doctor first).

More than 3.5 million skin cancers in more than 2 million people are diagnosed in the United States annually.*  While the benefits of vitamin D to bone health are well known, it also is well known that overexposure to UV radiation can cause skin cancer.

The bottom line: Vitamin D from food and dietary supplements offers the same benefits — without the danger of skin cancer — as vitamin D obtained from UV light.*

Source: American Academy of Dermatology

True or False: Most of a person’s lifetime sun damage occurs before the age of 18.

False: According to the Skin Cancer Foundation and the American Society for Photobiology, only about 20% of a person's lifetime sun exposure is acquired before age 18 (http://www.skincancer.org/Skin-Cancer-Facts/), and get about 10 percent more every decade after that.

The Journal of Investigative Dermatology states that, with an estimated lifespan of 80 years, people would get only about 25% of their UV dose if annual sun exposure is independent of age (http://bit.ly/maaPxw). So why do so many people get this fact incorrect?

Back in the late 1980's, a UV reduction campaign based its findings on an estimation that the average child gets 3x more the annual UV dose than the ave adult, which resulted in an assumption that individuals get 80% of their lifetime UV dose by the time they are 18. That assumption has spread for years - and has spread even further now through the internet. Recent studies in the early 2000's has shown that UV doses are actually very stable thoughout life. So it's not your age that determines how much UV exposure you receive, it's your lifestyle: do you work outdoors? do you garden? are you a golfer? So here's the lesson - every year is a chance to protect yourself from the sun's harmful and aging rays. Double-up on your SPF and your "CSF" - your Common Sense Factor. The more time you spend outdoors, no matter whether you're 15, 35, or 55 years old - practice common sun sense - wear an SPF, reapply as needed and wear protective hats, sunglasses or clothing as much as you can.