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September 24, 2008

Looking for a suitable Sunblock?

Which sunscreen ingredients should I look for to get the best sun protection?

For maximal sun protection, get a sunscreen that gives you both UVA and UVB protection. A lotion that offers UVB protection will have an "SPF" rating, while those with UVA protection will have a "PA" rating.

If you want to get a makeup or skincare product that can offer you protection against UVA and UVB rays, ensure you read the labels. There are different types of sunblock ingredients: Some are called physical sunblocks, others are known as chemical sunblocks. These are the ingredients that are commonly added to guard against infrared rays.

  • Physical Sunblocks. As the name suggests, physical sunblocks offer protection against the sun's rays by physically blocking out dangerous rays from coming into direct contact with your skin. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide (Z-cote) are examples of physical sunblocks. When applied, they cover the skin thus preventing direct exposure to UV rays.
  • Chemical Sunblock. Chemical sunblocks include avobenzone (Parsol 1789) which guard against UVA rays, and octyl salicylate and cinnamates which protect your skin from UVB rays. For chemical sunblocks, you need to apply them at least 30 minutes before stepping out for maximum effectiveness.
  • Water-Resistant and Water-Proof Sunblock. If you are heading to the beach or pool for a swim, your best option should be sunblock lotions that are labelled "water-resistant" or "water-proof". These contain ingredients that make them stick on your skin longer, even when you are in water. However, their adherence will weaken when you come into contact with water, so remember to re-apply after swimming.

For more information on suncare products, browse through the following websites:
- Banana Boat (My favourite suncare product, suitable for me because there is no cinnamate ingredient (I think I'm more like a coral...easily damaged by sunscreen...))
- Nivea Sun
- Sunplay

A little more....about...Cinnamates.
Cinnamates are less commonly found in sunscreens but are a common ingredient used as flavorings and fragrances in everything from toothpaste to perfumes. These chemicals are related to Balsam of Peru, cinnamon oils and cinnamic acid and aldehyde, so people allergic to cinnamates may also be allergic to these other chemicals.


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