Sunscreen, a.k.a sun cream (the term sunblock is discouraged), is a product that can be applied to the skin to absorb or reflect some of the sun’s UV (ultraviolet) rays/radiations with its photoprotective capabilities. It is used to mainly protect skin from sunburns and skin cancer(s). It comes in different forms and works well with complementing items such as sun hats, UV protectant jackets, etc.
Why is it important to pick the right one?
Sunscreen is important to help us avoid skin cancer, mainly two types: melanoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. In some scenarios, sunscreen could help to prevent discoloration. It is also widely known that UVA and UVA rays could accelerate the process of generating wrinkles as well as aging. It is also useful for people who have sensitive skin when in contact with UV rays.
The invention of sunscreen is more recent than you may think.
The first sunscreen in the world was invented in Australia, by chemist H.A. Milton Blake, in 1932 formulating with the UV filter ‘salol (Phenyl salicylate)’ at a concentration of ‘10% Its protection was verified by the University of Adelaide and its was also produced commercially by Blake’s company, Hamilton Laboratories. Despite sunscreen being relatively new, sun protection practices have been observed since at least the ancient Egyptians “who used ingredients such as rice bran, jasmine, and lupine” to provide sun protection.
According to Weldricks, the earliest form of sunscreen and its invention be traced back to 1938 when it was created by Franz Greiter, a Swiss chemist. Benjamin Green then used a mixture of cocoa butter and red veterinary petroleum to protect his skin from the sun in 1944. Franz Greiter, later on, produced the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) rating which is still used today.
The SPF rating allows users to know how protective it can be. The higher the rating, the better.
There are essentially two types of sunscreen as of today: chemical and mineral.
Chemical sunscreen agents are absorbed into the skin and may/may not have some health/environmental issues. Some ingredients are oxybenzone, and avobenzone. Some are safe for both our health and the environment, while others are not. So, it’s always nice to check the ingredient list prior to purchasing. (Lucky you, I noted down the ingredients and safety in my reviews!)
Mineral sunscreens agents are usually titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These ingredients would physically block the UV rays from entering the skin by deflecting and scattering the UV rays. However, aside from leaving a white cast, these ingredients are less likely to cause irritation to the skin and may be preferred for those with sensitive skin as they do have anti-irritating features. Additionally, nano-sized minerals (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) are not safe for the environment as compared to their microsized counterparts, so be careful with the products that you are choosing!
Brands are now keeping environmental well-being in mind and making sure that their sunscreens are safer for the coral reefs.
Before that, the world’s coral reefs were encountering one major issue: Coral Reefs Bleaching. According to National Geography, there are 14,000 tons of sunscreen thought to have washed into the oceans each year, contributing to the loss of 80% of the corals in the Caribbean in the last 50 years. This is why destinations like Hawaii and Palau began to ban sunscreens with harmful ingredients. Some studies for your reference can be seen here.
Perhaps it may help to ease your mind by knowing that there are many reef-safe sunscreens in the market right now. Did you know that sunscreens come in a lot of variants that could lead to different textures, finishing, lasting abilities, and more? In general, there are a few types of main sunscreen textures: powder, watery, lotion, gel, cream, sprays, and stick (relatively new).
Every sunscreen is made different and we are here to discover them with you.