Those close to me hear me preach about the importance of wearing a real SPF all the time. You cannot deny the evidence. In the anti-aging world, prevention is everything. The fact of the matter is, chronic sun exposure hinders elastin production, resulting in saggy, lackluster skin. Even in indirect sunlight, the sun's damaging ultraviolet rays produce free radicals that deplete collagen resources and contribute to skin cancer and photoaging. To prevent sun spots, discoloration, wrinkles and fine lines everyone should protect themselves. Put age and previous sun exposure aside, no excuses...do it! And you've heard me talk about real SPFs...so I am taking the opportunity to fully educate you on the differences between sunscreens and sunblocks.

To quote from a recent site visit, "Sunblocks (physical sunscreens) are opaque formulations which absorb, reflect and scatter up to 99% of both UV and visible light. Because they are messy and may stain clothing, sunblocks are often used on such sun-sensitive areas as the nose, lips, ears and shoulders. Examples of ingredients in sunblocks are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

Sunscreens (chemical sunscreens) absorb specific wavelengths (range of 200-400 nm) and are classified as drugs by the FDA because they are "...intended to protect the structure and function of the human integument against actinic damage." Sunscreens are considered more cosmetically refined due to their pleasing consistency and are, therefore, typically used over a prolonged time for effective photoprotection."

My view, hello...sunblock, of course. I will not purchase an SPF for myself or my family that doesn't contain an ample amount (7-20%) of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Just doesn't make sense otherwise. It is the one shield against aging...period. I apply my Keys Solar Rx daily to my face. For body, my family uses Blue Lizard.

Bottom line, a sunblock is stronger than a sunscreen. A sunblock contains chemicals that block the sun's rays by reflecting and scattering them - a sunblock acts as a physical barrier. Previously, only titanium dioxide was used. Now, manufacturers distribute smaller particles of titanium dioxide throughout the sunblock so that it does not create that "white lifeguard nose effect." So when you go shopping for an SPF, please think of me....and check out the back label. Do not buy anything that doesn't contain zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or mexoryl. Otherwise, you are risking the very skin that you live in.

Be sure to check out the Environmental Working Group's analysis of 783 different sunscreen products. Glad to see several SPFs that I have used, including the ones mentioned above, made the list (EltaMD, Vanicream, Skinceuticals).

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