Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Sunscreen?

Most people may not realize that both the sun and sunscreen can expose the body to oxidative stress…so how do we balance both and preserve the best environment for our skin and scalp? As the news breaks about the carcinogenic benzene  found in 78 sunscreen brands, it naturally makes us question how often we should be using it.

Many of us have been taught that it’s important to wear sunscreen daily. There certainly is evidence that sun exposure and UV rays can damage the skin— but when it comes to lathering on the SPF, we’re now realizing that moderation may be key.

If we look at the body as a machine, we can take stock on how well all of its elements are growing and functioning. Any time we over apply, ingest or expose ourselves to anything in excess, it can cause a strain on the body. Consider overeating. If you indulge too much on food too often, your digestive system can be overwhelmed causing a slew of issues like sluggishness, nausea and even lead to disease.

 

UV radiation in sunlight is a major trigger of free radicals. When UV radiation contacts skin, it reacts with oxygen in the air, which causes a free radical chain reaction. Excessive sun exposure, especially ultraviolet radiation, can lead to sunburn and increased damage to cells, called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can cause skin damage such as inflammation and premature skin aging, and can also lead to greying hair.

The Journal of Biomedical Research has reported that zinc oxide contained in sunblock actually ALSO causes oxidative stress on the skin during UV exposure, thus causing aging of the skin. As UV rays penetrate into the skin and encounter a sunscreen molecule, they react and generate free radicals. This leads to a chain reaction where many surrounding cellular structures and essential chemicals are affected.

It can feel good to enjoy a day the sun while relying upon a magical sunscreen barrier, but the next time you find yourself applying a second coat- ask yourself maybe it’s time for a shirt or a break under the umbrella to give your skin a rest. In regards to the face and scalp, consider a hat or scarf to help block UV rays.