Summer days are just around the corner!
As we start to spend more time outdoors soaking up Vitamin D, it is important to remember that sun exposure without adequate protection can be harmful to our skin and health.
Why We Need to Wear Sunscreen
UV radiation can cause a range of skin damage, including sunburn, premature ageing, and an increased risk of developing skin cancer.
While other mammals such as elephants can roll around in the mud to stay sun safe, and cats and dogs have furry skin as an added layer of protection, humans have to rely on the use of sunscreen.
Sunscreen acts as a barrier that absorbs or reflects the UV rays from the sun.
An effective sunscreen will help to prevent painful sunburns, reduce the appearance of wrinkles and age spots, and most importantly, lower the risk of skin cancer.
It is much easier now than any other time in history, to protect ourselves from the Sun.
Ancient civilisations devised their own methods of sun protection using natural ingredients. The Egyptians used rice bran extract, while Greeks and Romans preferred olive oil for skin protection.
Extensive research into the development of sun protection over time has meant that sunscreens have come a long way since when they were first formulated!
There are now natural sunscreen options that are suitable for use by babies, pregnant women and those with sensitive skin*.
How Does Sunscreen Work?
Understanding UVA and UVB Rays
Sunscreen is designed to protect our skin from the effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
The two main types of UV rays that sunscreen protects against are UVA (Ultraviolet A) rays and UVB (Ultraviolet B) rays.
UVA (Ultraviolet A) rays are rays that penetrate deep into the skin. They’re present during all daylight hours and all year around, even on cloudy days.
Often you cannot immediately feel the effects of UVA rays damaging your skin, but over time they can cause the skin to lose its firmness and elasticity, and they are also a major contributor to all types of skin cancer. UVA Rays can also penetrate through glass including windows, so unless the windows are specially treated to filter out UVA rays, your skin will continue to be exposed even in some indoor circumstances.
UVA Rays are responsible for signs of premature ageing, including wrinkles, fine lines, skin damage and age spots. This makes daily sunscreen application an absolute necessity.
UVB (Ultraviolet B) rays are even more intense than UVA rays. Their intensity varies depending on factors such as time of day, season, and geographic location.
UVB rays are more prevalent during the summer months and are responsible for causing sunburn, skin reddening and also contribute to the development of skin cancer.
What is the difference between SPF 15, 30 and 50?
The concept of Sun Protection Factor (SPF) was introduced in the 1960s.
SPF quantifies a sunscreen's ability to protect against UVB radiation.
For example, an SPF 30 sunscreen filters 96.7% of UVB radiation while an SPF 50 sunscreen filters 98% of UVB radiation (cancer.org.au).
It was not until the late 1980s that the importance of protection against UVA radiation was recognised.
Sunscreens are considered ‘broad spectrum’ if they provide protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Modern sunscreens are designed to provide broad-spectrum protection, guarding against both UVA and UVB radiation.
Types of Sunscreen - Chemical Based, Mineral Based, or Both?
Effective sunscreens reduce the amount of UV radiation that reaches the skin and prevents premature ageing and sunburn, reduces skin cancer risk, minimises skin damage and pigmentation and helps maintain skin integrity.
Sunscreen can be chemical or mineral-based, or a mixture of both.
Chemical-based Sunscreens work by absorbing UV radiation. While they are effective in providing sun protection, some concerns have been raised regarding their use including the below:
Absorption into the Body: Some chemical sunscreen ingredients, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, have been found to be absorbed into the bloodstream when applied to the skin. The long-term effects of this absorption are not yet fully understood.
Hormone Disruption: There is concern that certain chemical sunscreen ingredients, particularly oxybenzone, may have hormone-disrupting effects in the body.
Environmental Impact: Chemical sunscreens, when washed off in oceans and lakes, can be harmful to aquatic ecosystems.
Mineral based sunscreens typically use natural ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to create a physical barrier that reflects or scatters UV rays away from the skin.
This means that they may overcome some of the concerns associated with chemical-based sunscreen, such as its absorption into the body or any hormone-disrupting effects.
Mineral based sunscreens can also be formulated to be Reef and Ocean safe, meaning that they are biodegradable and free from chemicals that harm marine life.
While mineral-based sunscreens offer several advantages, they are not without their own set of challenges:
Poor spreadability: Natural sunscreens are mineral based and have a thicker and denser consistency compared to chemical sunscreens, making them more difficult to spread. They also don’t contain the emulsifiers that chemical sunscreens do to make application smoother.
Whitening Effect: Mineral sunscreens, especially those with a high concentration of zinc oxide, can leave a white or chalky residue on the skin. The good news is ZinClear® is a new generation broad spectrum ingredient in mineral based sunscreens which leaves a more transparent residue.
Lower Water Resistance: Natural sunscreens, especially those formulated without chemical additives, might be water-resistant for a shorter duration. To make it easier to apply natural sunscreen, consider using a moisturiser before applying sunscreen to create a smoother base. It is best to take your time when applying to ensure you rub the sunscreen in thoroughly and to achieve even coverage.
At Melvory we are well aware of these challenges, and have focussed our energy on developing a sunscreen which addresses many of these concerns.
Our SPF 50 natural mineral sunscreen has good spreadability, leaves no white cast, is reef-safe and water resistant up to 40 minutes!
Keep reading below for more information on our well-considered formulation.
How Often to Reapply Sunscreen
The Cancer Council recommends that sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before exposure to UV to ensure it creates the intended protective barrier. Sunscreen should be applied liberally and evenly to clean and dry skin.
Sunscreen should be reapplied at least every two hours, and this is irrespective of the water resistance of the sunscreen.
Swimming, sport, sweating and towel drying may reduce the effectiveness of sunscreen, so sunscreen should always be reapplied after these activities.
If you are swimming, it is best to come out of the pool to reapply every 40 minutes, or more often.
Why do most baby sunscreens only recommend from 6 months and above? What are the risks?
Widespread use of sunscreen on babies under the age of 6 months is generally not recommended because they have very sensitive skin which may be more likely to suffer from a reaction.
Babies under 12 months should be kept away from direct sunlight as much as possible. Parents or caretakers should plan daily activities to ensure the baby is well protected from the sun and aim to minimise time outside when UV levels are at their strongest. When this is not possible, babies should be protected from the sun by shade, protective clothing and a hat.
Some parents choose to use sunscreen occasionally on small parts of their baby’s skin.
Melvory's sunscreen is so gentle that it can be used from newborn onwards. However, as with all new topical products introduced to a baby, please patch test on the feet and wait 48 hours to ensure there is no allergic reaction prior to use. If in doubt, always check with a healthcare professional.
If your baby does suffer a reaction to a sunscreen, discontinue use and seek medical attention immediately.
Which Sunscreen Should I choose?
The best sunscreen for you is the one you feel most comfortable to use consistently.
Whether you opt for a chemical-based sunscreen or a natural alternative, make an informed choice that aligns with your skin's needs, environmental concerns, and personal preferences.
Melvory's Natural Sunscreen SPF 50
Melvory’s Natural Sunscreen SPF 50 is made with 100% certified organic ingredients, is vegan certified, dermatologist tested and safe for babies and expecting Mothers* (as well as Reef and Ocean safe!)
Our sunscreen is also TGA approved and delivers top-notch sun protection (SPF 50), while leaving no white cast.
If you’re looking for a guilt-free choice both for your skin and the planet, our Sunscreen is an absolute game-changer!
While Melvory’s sunscreen is 100% natural, we always recommend patch testing before use, especially for young babies to ensure no allergic reactions.
Other Sun Protection Measures
We always recommend complementing sunscreen use with other sun protective measures, such as wearing protective clothing and sunglasses, and seeking shade during peak sun hours.
As you welcome Summer and embrace all that the outdoors have to offer, remember to protect you and your family's skin along the way!
*The information provided is general in nature and not intended to be medical advice. If you have concerns and are in doubt, always seek the advice of a medical professional.