Most Common Sunscreen Questions Answered


 Unless you’ve just escaped a cult compound in the middle of the desert, I’m sure you’ve heard of sunscreen. We’d be fools to ignore some important facts about the dangers of exposing ourselves to the sun without protection. Especially when skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, and more than 3.5 million Americans will be diagnosed with the disease this year.


Can’t imagine 3.5 million Americans per year? Just think that 2 out of 3 friends will be diagnosed with skin cancer at some point during their lives. This is why you need to become best friends with White Girl, because she could save your life.

Even former President Barack Obama signed the Sunscreen Innovation Act into law in order to usher more safe, UV-protective ingredients into this burgeoning category… which means SUNSCREEN IS BAE.





Sunscreen Q&A with Rachel


1. Should I use stand-alone sunscreen daily, if my moisturizer/foundation already contains spf.  

Answer: I can’t emphasize enough how essential a stand-alone sunscreen is when it comes to keeping skin healthy and slowing the effects of aging! I specify “stand-alone” for a reason.


Many people use a daytime moisturizer or foundation with a built-in sun protection, but the unfortunate truth is that many of those products are not supplying anyone with adequate UV protection. The reason for this is that we need to use ¼ teaspoon of sunscreen on our face in order to obtain the amount of sun protection advertised on the product label- ¼ teaspoon is a lot! It’s about the diameter of a cherry= and most people do not use that much moisturizer or (we can hope) foundation.


Not only should you use sunscreen when you're in the sun- you also need to make it apart of your daily beauty regimen. Otherwise you can have brown spots/ hyper-pigmentation... like ME.. ugh


2. If I get a base tan before I go to the beach then am I less likely to be harmed from the sun?

Answer:  “A base tan protects you” OMG SHUT UP- NO. A tan is literally your body’s response to being injured by UV exposure. A base tan provides the SPF equivalent of about a 4, says Steve Rotter, MD, a dermatologic surgeon in Virginia (comparison to a white t-shirt- about a 7 spf).


3. Don’t I need to be in the sun to get the proper amount of Vitamin D?

Answer: This is a common misconception. First of all, most people don’t apply sunscreen well enough to prevent skin from producing vitamin D. Secondly, you’ll need much less time in the sun to produce the adequate levels that you might think. If your skin just kept making vitamin D in response to sunlight, it would reach toxic levels. After 15 minutes or so, the system overloads and production stops.


4. “So chemical sunscreen is super unsafe, right”....  

Answer: So, you’ve heard the claims that certain sunscreen ingredients can be carcinogenic or have estrogen-like effects on the body. While this is a controversial area, doctors that we interviewed agreed that there are no studies that demonstrate this. One study performed on lab rats suggested that a chemical called oxybenzone (which our White Girl Sunscreen is free of) can produce free radicals that may harm the skin, but Doctor Wu says she’s not aware of any published research that argues the link between the chemicals in your sunscreen and skin cancer. The same oxybenzone has also taken heat for having estrogen-like effects in rats, but Rigel says the dose used in that research was unrealistically high; “If you use SPF 30 every day and applied it throughout to your entire body, it would take 35 years to reach the level of exposure that THE RATS did (rats weigh like...1 pound? if-ew). Another, now 10 year-old, study on mice suggested that retinyl palmitate (a type of Vitamin A, also not found in White Girl Sunscreen) can increase tumors, says Wu. But while the ingredient can increase sun sensitivity, she says there’s no research showing a link to human skin cancers.


5. How effective is 50 spf +

Answer: Don’t be fooled by a high sun-protection factor (SPF) number—over 50, for example. The SPF indicates protection only from UVB rays, the ones that cause sunburn and non-melanoma skin cancers; UVA rays are actually much more threatening. So a sky-high number likely gives you drastically unbalanced protection (UVB instead of broad-spectrum), plus higher concentrations of chemicals you may want to avoid.


6. How often should I reapply my sunscreen?

Answer: To figure out how long you can stay in the sun with a given SPF, use this equation:

Minutes to burn without sunscreen x SPF number = maximum sun exposure time


7. Do I need sunscreen if I’m not white? 

Answer: OH YESSS hunty. Bob Marley, for example, died of melanoma on his toe that was misdiagnosed as a soccer injury… so I suggest that everyone needs their bff, White Girl. Melanin is the colored pigment in our skin, and when we expose our skin to the sun, more melanin is produced in order to protect the skin against UV rays. The problem here is that although melanin helps protect the skin, it doesn’t accurately prevent the skin from the more harmful UV rays.


“This is just profoundly, radically false,” says Ranella Hirsch, MD, a Boston dermatologist and past president of the American Society of Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery. Many people with more pigment in their skin will have a lower skin cancer risk, says Rigel, but they’re not immune. One CDC paper found that up to 30% of darker-skinned ethnic groups reported at least one sunburn in the previous year.


“Unfortunately, skin cancer is frequently diagnosed later in people with darker skin tones- perhaps because of the misconception that they are not at risk- so it’s often progressed to a later stage and is more difficult to treat,” says Wu. Singer


8. Do I need to continue to wear sunscreen after I get tan?

Answer: You’re super tan because your skin is fighting the UVA/UVB Rays off- so yes.

Example-> I am white as a snowflake with dots of melanin splattered across my body. Yes, I have freckles. Here’s a photo when I stayed at my grandparents in LA one summer- I was 18 in this photo.


After staying at the beach, look how many freckles I have. My skin was trying to protect me because it needed to fight against UV rays. (photograph)


9. Can sunscreen really be (100% or completely) organic?

“If you are like many people searching for a USDA Certified Organic Sunscreen, you are unfortunately hunting for the unicorn of the sun protection industry. Organic sunscreen, similar to “chemical free” products, is a big, fat myth. As it currently stands, for a product to be truly USDA certified “Organic,” all of its ingredients must be of food grade organic quality. They must literally be edible. I have searched high and low and there still aren’t any edible ingredients that could be considered by lab standards a sunblock. Shea butter is known to have sun protective qualities, however its efficacy pales in comparison to titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which no one should ever eat.” says Chase Polan, Founder of Kypris Skincare.



10. What makes a sunscreen waterproof?

Answer: The FDA has created three levels of water-resistance claims:

  1. Not water-resistant, hence an SPF claim only

  2. Water-resistant to 40 minutes

  3. Water-resistant to 80 minutes

Sixteen to twenty-four hours post-exposure, the subjects are instructed to return to the facility for evaluation of delayed erythemic (skin reddening) responses.


The FDA set these time limits based on research done in 1978 that indicated that swimmers in the pool or the ocean, spend an average of 21 minutes in the water and are in the water an average of 3.6 times on any given day.


What are the ingredients that help make sunscreen waterproof?

Answer: The Ingredients that help make sunscreen waterproof

To make a sunscreen water-resistant, ingredients have to be added that will allow the sunscreen formulation to adhere to skin when submerged in “swirling water”. This can be done with waxes, oils, or a type of polymer such as dimethicone. Because accepted sunscreen active ingredients are either some form of liquid chemical compound or a fine mineral powder, they do not generally adhere to human skin. The formulator’s objective is to mix ingredients into the sunscreen that will:


1. Help the sunscreens active ingredients adhere to skin when immersed in water.

2. Not negatively affect the balance of the sunscreen formulation, causing it to separate.

3. Not inhibit sunscreen ingredients from achieving desired SPF levels.

4. Not fill and plug skin pores.


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