Tuesday, 2 February 2016

When Should You Throw Out Your Sunscreen? Does Sunscreen Expire?


Initially, let's just say 'YES';  You should throw away any old or expired sunscreens as they may simply be less efficient for protection.  Let's face it; using sunscreen is so much safer than total exposure to the harmful rays of the sun.  Anyway, you look at it, you are exposed daily to some form of ultraviolet radiation, whether it be ultraviolet A (UVA) or ultraviolet B (UBA).  Too much exposure to either of these common forms of ultraviolet radiation can result in possible life-threatening conditions.  With that in mind, why wouldn't you want the best possible protection for you and your family?

The Need For Protection
It seems that over 90% of the ultraviolet radiation that we are exposed to is in the form of ultraviolet A (UVA), while most of the ultraviolet B (UVB) is absorbed into the ozone layer.  Unfortunately, any exposure to these forms of radiation is considered carcinogenic to humans, so a safe sunscreen protection is always needed in one form or another.

During the daylight hours, the Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays are more prevalent.  These are the rays that are credited with more problems of aging skin and wrinkles, possibly due to their presence even on cloudy days.  On the other hand, Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays are present year round. Due to this, they are more damaging to the outer epidermal layers, often causing the common sunburn.

It's this damage, and often subtle damage, that makes ultraviolet rays so dangerous for us as many of us do not realize the damage is occurring until it's too late.

Life-cycle of Sunscreens
Most sunscreens are a combination of many physical and inorganic substances that reflect and/or diffuse ultraviolet rays.  Of course, this is in addition to fragrances, emulsifiers, preservatives and a host of other additives that make the product more inviting to the consumer.  While the bulk of these ingredients are harmless to most of us, use caution when purchasing by reading the labels and understanding any possible reactions you may have to an ingredient.  One such ingredient that you may need to approach with caution is an ingredient like oxybenzone, with enhances the penetration of those harmful rays. That deeper exposure can cause a great tan now, but some serious repercussions later in the form of irreversible skin damage.   A quicker tan isn't always a better tan.

Meanwhile, keep in mind that as with many over-the-counter drugs (OTC), which sunscreens are considered, most have an expiration date for a reason.  Sunscreens have a general life-cycle of three years, but storage conditions may alter that timeframe.  If your sunscreen has been kept in a dark, cool environment usage past three years may be acceptable. However, if you keep your sunscreen in the glovebox of the car, you may want to toss it after the first year!

Another test for your sunscreen is: Has it separated?  If your sunscreen was once a soft, creamy substance and now comes out with a watery or gritty goo, toss it!  It would seem obvious that the emulsifier has lost it's touch and you have a product that just isn't a safe sunscreen anymore.
Otherwise, a safe rule of thumb is not to use past an expiration date, and if you do, no more than 6 months afterwards. Here are a few reasons why to be safe than sorry:

Did you know that in their lifetime, some 1 in 5  Americans will develop a form of skin cancer?
That one statistic results in almost 5 million people in the United States alone that will receive treatment for some form of wrinkles and skin cancer.

Out of those treated, those resulting in melanomas are 4% in women, and 5% in men.  That's quite an outstanding statistic alone.

Additionally, some 90% of all non-melanoma cancers (skin) are due in one form or another to exposure of harmful ultraviolet rays.

Summary
So, if you are among the millions out there who have worshipped the sun with or without sunscreens, you have probably already seen some of the results with such things as:

  • Moles
  • Wrinkles and excessive wrinkling
  • Freckles 
  • Blemishes
  • Benign Tumors 
  • Aging

By using a high SPF sunscreen now, you can slow down those effects and begin protection today.  The higher the SPF, the better your results, but no higher than 50 as it has no proven effectivity.  Additionally, adding certain vitamins to your diet will help as well.   For instance, Vitamin E helps to protect cells and their membranes, thus preventing damage.  Vitamin C is also effective in repairing damage caused by free radicals.

As with anything as pertains your health, knowledge is powerful and the more you can learn the more powerful you will be at protecting your health and the health of your family.

References

http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/5-best-sunscreens-that-we-are-still-not-using

http://www.examiner.com/article/can-sunscreen-avoid-aging-your-skin-1


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