While sunscreens are generally effective at filtering out ultraviolet rays from the sun that cause sunburn (UVB rays), they don't work as well at filtering UVA rays, which penetrate the skin deeply and are more likely to cause skin cancer and wrinkles.
Further, because many people believe that sunscreens offer complete sun protection, they stay out in the sun longer, which adds to the potential risk of skin cancer -- not realizing that they're only getting partial protection.
Misleading or confusing product labels are partly to blame for the widespread misinformation regarding sunscreens. In 1999, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said stricter rules for sunscreen testing and labeling would take effect in 2001, but this was put on hold indefinitely. In the fall of 2005, Congress ordered the FDA to produce the revised regulations within six months.
A San Diego-based law firm has also filed a lawsuit involving 10 California residents against the top sunscreen manufacturers Coppertone, Neutrogena, Playtex Products' Banana Boat, Tanning Research Laboratories' Hawaiian Tropic and Chattem Inc.'s Bullfrog.
The suit claims the manufacturers have made fraudulent label claims and seeks damages for injuries and other compensation.
If you accept the premise that it is good to use sunblcok, which is typically not true, then many commercial sunblocks are not delivering what they promise. They only filter out the UVB rays and let the UVA rays come right on through.
Additionally, what most people do not understand, and the article did not comment on, is that nearly every sunblock needs to be applied every 45 minutes if it is going to work, even if you don't go into the water.
You simply can't slather the lotion on your body and expect to get any benefit one hour later. So there are several reasons here to seriously consider revising your use of sunblocks before I even address the more important ones.
Most people avoid the sun because they believe the myth that nearly every dermatologist is pushing -- that exposing your skin to the sun is one of the most dangerous things you can do and should be avoided at all costs if you want to lower your risk of potentially dangerous skin cancers.
What they don't realize is that the sun actually protects you from cancer and about 50,000 Americans die every year from cancers that could have been treated by having higher vitamin D levels from proper sun exposure.
What most physicians fail to appreciate is that the major risk factor for melanoma is not sun exposure but a distortion of the balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fats. You can read the article I wrote on that for more information.
Does excessive, irrational exposure to the sun contribute to skin cancer? Certainly. But this is easily minimized by limiting your exposure early in the season to before 10 a.m or after 2-3 p.m. when the rays are the strongest. You can also use protective shirts and hats to block the sun.
Another fatal flaw in the sunblock recommendation is that most of the commercial products are loaded with toxic chemicals that will cause you far more long-term damage than the sun you are seeking to protect yourself from.
So if you decide to use a sunblock, at least trek over to your local health food store and pick up one that isn't loaded with toxic chemicals. If you can't find one there we sell a safe one on our site.