Importance of using a Mineral Sunscreen
By Nava Greenfield
Why is it important to use a mineral instead of a chemical screen, especially when you’re pregnant?
It is important to protect your skin from the sun. Pregnancy may be a time when you forget some of your skin care routine, but sun protection should not be something to forget. There are two main categories of sunscreen that are FDA approved in the US. The first are chemical sunscreens. Some examples of the main ingredients in this category are octinoxate and avobenzone. These chemicals get absorbed into your skin and absorb the UV rays from the sun. Chemical SPFs scatter the rays, which prevents harm on your skin. Many chemical sunscreens can cause irritant and allergic reactions in skin, so sensitive or allergic skin types would not be ideal types to use this formulation. They also do not protect against all wavelengths of light. Chemical sunscreens are better at protecting against UVB, which describes wavelengths of 280-320 nm, but less protective against UVA, which is approximately wavelegths 320-400. Very simplified, UVA causes more aging, whereas UVB causes more burns. The second category are physical or mineral blockers. Zinc and titanium dioxide are the two main physical blockers. Instead of absorbing into the skin, these ingredients stay on top of the skin and provide a physical shield against the UV rays, preventing their penetration and harm on the skin. These ingredients are not absorbed into the skin and do not cause many reactions. They also protect against more sun wavelengths and are excellent protection from both UVA and UVB. Because of this, I recommend that only physical blockers be used during pregnancy.
Chemical sunscreens also can harm the environment around us by washing into our lakes, ponds and oceans and affecting the natural environments there.
How often should one apply SPF?
Sunscreens are not meant to be effective all day long. They need to be reapplied every two hours and after a sweating, swimming or contact with water, which can wash them off. Find a sunscreen that feels good on your skin and that you enjoy putting on. Keep it in your bathroom next to your morning skin care products so that you don’t forget to apply it daily. Make it a habit so that you never apply makeup without first protecting your face from the sun. Keep one in your bag so that you can reapply throughout the day.
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Dr. Nava Greenfield is a dermatologist practicing at Schweiger Dermatology Group. Dr. Greenfield earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Queens College, City University of New York, where she graduated Cum Laude with honors in mathematics, natural sciences, chemistry and biochemistry.
Dr. Greenfield attended medical school at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Yeshiva University. She completed her internship at Yale-New Haven Hospital and her residency in dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. Dr. Greenfield has been published in many medical journals, including The Journal of Dermatological Treatment, the Journal of Women’s Dermatology and Pediatrics. Dr. Greenfield is a member of the American Academy of Dermatology, Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, Women’s Dermatologic Society and the American Medical Association.