Week of:
Aug 11, 2017

Plant-based sun protection

Dear Alice,

Recently I bought a sun protection cream from a health food store. The cream claims to provide sun protection (it's labeled SPF 15) by a plant complex made of PABA, willow bark extract, myrtle and myrtus leaf extract. It says that myrtle and myrtus leaf help protect from both UVA and UVB.

My questions are as follows:

1) Can this PABA complex provide the sun protection it claims (SPF 15 for both UVA and UVB rays)? The reason I am asking this is because until now I had only heard of sun protection by titanium dioxide or chemicals like octyl mexaoxycinnamate (did I get it right?). So I am curious to find out.

2) I notice a slight burning sensation in my eyes after I apply the product on my face. Is it true that PABA is a common irritant? (Since I notice many products proudly claiming PABA-free I wonder if it's really not good for you.)

Please help. I hope this question falls within your realm of expertise. After all, you are the 'know it all' around here, aren't you?

Thank you,

'Burning' to find out

Do cosmetics containing sunscreen provide adequate sun protection?

Dear Alice,

I was thinking of buying a face powder that says it has an spf of 30. It seems convenient to have a powder sunblock since lotions make my oily face greasy. However, I was wondering if this powder will even be effective as a sunblock since I heard that some moisturizers and other products that advertise an added SPF sometimes don't have a high enough concentration of sunblocking ingredients to make it effective. I would like to know what do you think before I make my purchase. Thanx.

Dark skin: Is sunscreen necessary?

Dear Alice,

I am African-American, but my skin is not that dark. I was never told that I needed sunscreen and when I worked in a daycare I was told in a very delicate manner that only the paler children needed sunscreen. I've been out in the sun for extended periods of time and was wondering if sunscreen is necessary for someone of my complexion. If so, what strength?

Clothes to protect oneself from the sun

Hello, Alice!

As the summer is soon to arrive, I was wondering what type of clothing should I wear to protect myself from the sun? Also, what color works best, light or black? I seem to be getting conflicting answers on the Internet. I am a fair skinned male. Thanks for your help!

Shining light on sun protection products

Dear Alice,

I find choosing among all of the available sunscreens and sunblocks to be very confusing. Of the following three products I am currently using, which one is giving my skin the most protection: sunscreen SPF 30 with UVA, UVB, and IR sun protection; sunblock SPF 17 with UVA, UVB, and IR sun protection; or, sunblock SPF 50 with UVA and UVB sun protection? By the way, what is the difference between a sunSCREEN and a sunBLOCK?

Desperately Seeking Protection