The Truth About SPF and Your Skin

When it comes to SPF (sun protection factor), common sense must override the hype generated by sunscreen marketers. People need to know the facts about sunscreen and the risks of prolonged overexposure to UV radiation.

They also need to be aware of the health benefits associated with controlled and sensible exposure to sunlight such as a natural healthy dose of vitamin D.

At Xtend-Life, it could simply go ahead and add an SPF factor to our products, like most companies do. But because of our philosophical viewpoint we won't do it, because of the potential health risks.

This may seem controversial, considering everything you've been told about the importance of protecting your skin from the sun. SPF factors are synthetic products, which are absorbed into your skin and then into your bloodstream. The jury is still out on the possible harmful effects of some of these chemicals.

This question mark hanging over their long-term safety doesn't fit with our philosophy of guaranteeing every ingredient in our skincare range must be safe enough to eat.

Also, some sunscreens and SPF products may give users a false sense of security. The common perception is "don't worry, I've slapped on some sunscreen so I can lie in the sun all day and work on my tan."

However, for the ordinary person, this may not be advisable as the daily use of sunscreen can lead to vitamin D deficiency.

Recent studies have found up to 60% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D, which is partly due to the explosive increase in sunscreen use. It is worth noting that many experts now believe the most deadly form of skin cancer, melanoma, is not caused by excessive exposure to the sun at all. In fact, melanomas commonly appear on parts of the body that never see the sun. The underlying cause of melanomas (like most cancers) is linked to poor nutrition.

Xtend-Life Chairman, Warren Matthews says that the link between sunscreen marketing and vitamin D deficiency is triggering off a number of avoidable degenerative diseases. "Some people in an attempt to correct this deficiency are jumping on to the current fad of taking high dose vitamin D supplements," he says. "But, as a supplement manufacturer we do not advocate that either, as high dose Vitamin D supplements can also cause a detrimental effect in the body."

"I know and appreciate that many people believe that the sun causes you to age prematurely and wrinkle. That is another fallacy for the overwhelming majority of people. I say the majority because excessive sun can have an aging effect on some people such as those with a very light complexion and these people need to be careful about not getting sunburnt.

"I rarely use sunscreen unless I am out on the ocean for a couple of days in intense sunshine where I have to deal with the reflection of the sun off the ocean as well…in other words getting a double dose. And even then I only use it for the first one or two days. But, I do use our moisturizer at the end of each day."

"If you are expecting to be out in the sun for long periods of time, then the only safe sunscreens to use are those that aren't absorbed into the skin, such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. They create a film/barrier on your skin and are often used by sportsmen and women who spend several hours in the sun each day."

Did you know that even a broad spectrum sunscreen does not provide total protection against all UV-rays?

The only way to protect against the UV-rays that slip through sunscreens is from the inside out. This is why getting the right nutrients is so important…especially those that have beneficial properties in helping support the skin against UV-rays.

A great way of getting some of these nutrients is by taking our Omega 3 / DHA Plus. It contains astaxanthin and lycopene…two ingredients proven to help support the skin against the effects of photo-aging and protecting the skin from sun damage. 

Both astaxanthin and lycopene can have beneficial effects in the relationship between sun and skin. Over time they may help your skin to be less sensitive to the effect of UV rays, reduce the tendency to burn and protect the deeper levels of the skin which are still damaged by those UV rays that even broad spectrum sunscreens do not block. They may also help neutralize the free radicals that are produced as a result of UV exposure.

Just remember that these ingredients should not be used as a replacement for sunscreens, but rather in addition, to strengthen your skin against sun damage for the future.

However, following a healthy lifestyle and supplementing your diet with the right nutrients are not the only ways to get healthier, younger-looking skin…you need to follow a good skincare routine as well. Nourish your skin with essential skin-specific ingredients daily with our Xtend-Life women's and men's range of skin care products. They are designed to work in synergy with each other as well as our supplements.

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