I went out and bought some SPF 70 to prevent the summer rays this week. Being a natural blonde my coloring goes from fish belly white, to a few age-spots and mottled to sunburnt red. I really don’t tan. However I love nude beaches. Hence the problem.

I keep reading about the pros and cons of sunscreens.

My naturopath says “forget the sunscreen, you need 40 minutes of sunlight a day for that shot of natural Vitamin D.” My friend Diana at Murphy Laser who does laser face treatments says “you absolutely need sunscreen for life- especially after any laser treatments.

My MD friend says there is some arguments that putting chemicals all over your skin (like bug spray and sunscreens) causes liver inflammation.

Here is some of the things I discovered.

Exposure to solar energy, ultra-violet radiation (UV), can cause premature aging and at worst, skin cancer. Two forms of UV radiation that reach us via the sun, sun lamps, and tanning booths are UVA and UVB.

UVA, though not as powerful as UVB, penetrates deeper into the skin and is responsible for photodamage. There’s a high level of concern that UVA increases the risk of malignant melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

UVB primarily affects the skin’s outer layers, causing your skin to darken and burn. Exposure to UVB increases the risk of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, two forms of non-melanoma skin cancer. Both UVA and UVB from sunlight accounts for 90% of the symptoms of premature skin aging, including wrinkles.

Sunscreens were never intended to prevent sunburn. They were only intended to prolong the amount of sun exposure required to obtain sunburn. Further, sunscreens were never intended to prevent tanning. Only recently have UVA filters been developed that can prevent tanning in a meaningful manner. Many people (including my sex therapy patients) continue to be confused about this issue.

Perhaps the biggest misnomer is that sunscreens prevent aging. Most anti-aging moisturizers base their claim on listing sunscreen filters under active agents, but no one has ever proven that sunscreens prevent aging. It is an assumption based on observation.