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How Sunscreen lotion protects your skin

Sunscreen (also known as sunblock, suntan lotion) is a lotion, spray or other topical product that helps protect the skin from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and which reduces sunburn and other skin damage, with the goal lowering your risk of skin cancer. However in the United States, the term suntan lotion usually means the opposite of sunscreen, and instead refers to lotion designed to moisturize and maximize UV exposure and tanning rather than block it. These are commonly called indoor tanning lotions when designed for use with tanning beds or just suntan lotion if designed for outdoor use and may or may not have SPF protection in them. The most effective sunscreens protect against both UVB (ultraviolet radiation with wavelength between 290 and 320 nanometres), which can cause sunburn, and UVA (between 320 and 400 nanometres), which damages the skin with more long-term effects, such as premature skin aging.

Most sunscreens work by containing either an organic chemical compound that absorbs ultraviolet light (such as oxybenzone) or an opaque material that reflects light (such as titanium dioxide, zinc oxide), or a combination of both. Typically, absorptive materials are referred to as chemical blocks, whereas opaque materials are mineral or physical blocks. Contrary to the common advice that sunscreen should be reapplied every 2?3 hours, research has shown that the best protection is achieved by application 15?30 minutes before exposure, followed by one reapplication 15?30 minutes after the sun exposure begins. Further reapplication is only necessary after activities such as swimming, sweating, and rubbing. Sun Protection Factor The SPF of a sunscreen is a laboratory measure of the effectiveness of sunscreen; the higher the SPF, the more protection a sunscreen offers against UV-B (the ultraviolet radiation that causes sunburn).

The SPF indicates the time a person can be exposed to sunlight before getting sunburn with a sunscreen applied relative to the time they can be exposed without sunscreen. For example, someone who would burn after 12 minutes in the sun would expect to burn after 2 hours (120 min) if protected by a sunscreen with SPF 10. In practice, the protection from a particular sunscreen depends on factors such as: The skin type of the user. The amount applied and frequency of re-application. Activities in which one engages (for example, swimming leads to a loss of sunscreen from the skin).

Amount of sunscreen the skin has absorbed. The SPF is an imperfect measure of skin damage because invisible damage and skin aging is also caused by the very common ultraviolet type A, which does not cause reddening or pain. Conventional sunscreen does not block UVA as effectively as it does UVB, and an SPF rating of 30+ may translate to significantly lower levels of UVA protection according to a 2003 study. According to a 2004 study, UVA also causes DNA damage to cells deep within the skin, increasing the risk of malignant melanomas. Even some products labeled "broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection" do not provide good protection against UVA rays. The best UVA protection is provided by products that contain zinc oxide, avobenzone, and Mexoryl.

Due to consumer confusion over the real degree and duration of protection offered, labeling restrictions are in force in several countries. In the United States in 1999, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided to institute the labelling of SPF 30+ for sunscreens offering more protection, and a similar restriction applies in Australia. This was done to discourage companies from making unrealistic claims about the level of protection offered (such as "all day protection"), and because an SPF over 30 does not provide significantly better protection.

The SPF can be measured by applying sunscreen to the skin of a volunteer and measuring how long it takes before sunburn occurs when exposed to an artificial sunlight source. In the US, such an in vivo test is required by the FDA. It can also be measured in vitro with the help of a specially designed spectrometer. In this case, the actual transmittance of the sunscreen is measured, along with the degradation of the product due to being exposed to sunlight.

Active Ingredients The following are the FDA allowable active ingredients in sunscreens: P-Aminobenzoic acid (PABA) up to 15 %. Avobenzone up to 3%. Cinoxate up to 3%. Dioxybenzone up to 3%. Homosalate up to 15%.

Menthyl anthranilate up to 5%. Octocrylene up to 10%. Octyl methoxycinnamate (Octinoxate) up to 7.

5%. Octyl salicylate up to 5%. Oxybenzone up to 6%.

Padimate O up to 8%. Phenylbenzimidazole sulfonic acid (Ensulizole) up to 4%. Sulisobenzone up to 10%. Titanium dioxide up to 25%.

Trolamine salicylate up to 12 %. Zinc oxide up to 25%. MexorylŽ SX ? UVA Absorber.


Tarkesh Botadra is a well experienced chemical engineer, R&D for Cosmetology and consultancy in private label production. Visit www.asiantradelink.com for more information on Skin care products like Sunscreen lotion.

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