A SUPERMODEL MAKES A SOUND - OR - THE SUNSCREEN EXPRESS
Feb 10, 2011 Posted by Corrie Shenigo
It seems Gisele Bundchen is not merely rocking a super-human-body, she, in fact, is a real live super-hero. (No, fo realz… she created a 26-episode animated web series called “Gisele and The Green Team,” where she and her supermodel pals Sophie, Keisha, Woo Li, and Alex moonlight as earth-saving super heroes fighting to tackle the Earth’s biggest problems.) And every super-hero worth their salty little sound-bites needs a super-sized PR team to back-pedal, re-explain and deny their a*ses off when said super-hero gets a little… um… idiotic?
It seems she of the perfect body, perfect husband (football hero Mr. Tom Brady), perfect baby and perfect flowing mane of perfect super-hero hair has done it again. This time in the guise of a perfect blunder while attending a press conference promoting her all-natural, organic skin-care line, Sejaa, where she told the media that she doesn't wear sunscreen because, "I cannot put this poison on my skin. I do not use anything synthetic." (I know she’s Brazillian, but I sort of hear her saying this with a ridiculously snooty European accent – no?) Instead she claims to only expose herself to the sun before 8am, when the sun’s rays are too weak to harm her skin. (This is coming from a gal who claims that childbirth was no-bigs, so we’ll take this little nugget of wisdom with a grain of salt.)
Okay Gisele. Poison? Really. Really? Then how, pray tell do you manage to rock that year-round caramel looking glow? I find it hard to believe that all those sexy, beach-frollicky swimwear shots are photographed before 8am. I’m just sayin’.
Cue the hysteria, ‘cause ever since the ‘poison’ comment, dermatologists, sunscreen devotees and Cancer groups everywhere have been in an uproar over Ms. Bunchen’s sound-bite and the seriously faulty and dangerous message it sends.
"Sunscreen prevents damage to the skin and is of fundamental importance for the prevention of cancer. This is not any poison, when a public person makes a statement like this, it creates confusion." Says Dolival Loao, head of dermatology at the National Cancer Institute of Brazil, following this with an unspoken ‘Duh.’
This is where Ms. Bundchen’s busy little beaver media team scurried into action exclaiming that the incident was merely translated incorrectly and that the supermodel would never advise anyone to break-up with their UV protection.
"Gisele would never say not to use sunscreen because she has had family members who have had skin cancer. She simply stated that her all-natural skin-care line does not have SPF because there is not an all natural SPF available," supermodel publicist Amber Clapp told the media. "When using sunscreens, she selects ones that are free of parabens, oxybenzone, PABA and retinyl palmitate.” Well, thanks for clearing that up, Ms. Clapp. Someone is obviously trying to sully the supermodel’s good name. Gisele does not think sunscreen is ‘poison’. Noted.
Let’s get back to this free-of-parabens-oxybenzone-PABA-retinyl-palmate business, shall we? While it’s clear Ms. Clapp was throwing in some big, scientific words to glamour the media (Oohhh. Sparkly. Shiny.), the actual translation (so much translating to do) is that the illustrious Ms. Bundchen probably chooses sunscreens with physical-barrier active ingredients like zinc and titanium dioxide, which are also safer ingredients for those with sensitive skin.
But let’s face it, there are any number of sunscreens to choose from on the market – long wearing, sports protection, moisturizing, waterproof – and with all the options, unpronounceable ingredients and fancy packaging (this is where I get a little addled) it’s easy to get corn-fused when selecting a method of protecting your glowy skin from the anger of the sun’s rays. (It’s hot up there folks, I’d be a little angry too.) So, let’s examine a little sunscreen 101 and we’ll base it strictly on the facts.
First stop: ingredients. Thankfully, we don’t have to pronounce them, but according to The Skin Cancer Foundation it’s advisable to make sure your sunscreen product contains some combination of avobenzone, oxybenzone, mexoryl, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
Next stop: SPF. While I personally prefer my SPF level to read about 7 bazillion – it seems that’s not really necessary. (Eh. What do they know?)
New York dermatologist Dr. Anne Chapas rings in on the subject. "There's a myth that twice the SPF is twice the protection. Consumers might think SPF 100+ is twice as strong as SPF 50 when in-fact, it's only a few percentages higher. The danger here is the potential to be lax with reapplication, resulting in sunburn. Remember, overexposure to sunlight is one of the leading causes of skin cancer.” Duly noted, Dr. Chapas.
But if not 7 bazillion, what number should my SPF read? "There's no reason to get less than a 30. If you have light skin and eyes, go with a 50 or higher," advises Palm Beach dermatologist Dr. Kenneth Beer. (Insert beer joke.) "I don't think that much above SPF 60 makes that much of a difference, but if the products are the same price and same quality, why wouldn't you opt for the greatest protection possible?"
Which brings us to our next stop: Application and Re-application and Re-application. No, I haven’t veered off into the ad-nauseum tediousness of applying for a Home Loan Modification, folks. I’ve somehow managed to stay on topic (tiny miracles).
"For most people, the reapplication of sunscreen should be for when they plan to be outdoors - not when they're in an office all day.” Says Dr. Beer (Mmm… beer). And lest you think the good Dr. Beer (Seriously, try to stop yourself from the frat-boy visual. Try.) isn’t at all mindful of the crazy time we ladies spend on applying our faces everyday, he says, “If you're wearing makeup, you may be able to use makeup that has SPF 30 or more built into it, which will help. The mineral-based make-ups frequently have sun protection, and can be sufficient for minimal sun exposure," says Dr. Beer. (Tee-hee.)
Our final stop on this sunscreen 101 train ride: Waterproof. Or should I say: Waterproof? While the FDA continues to push for the term “waterproof” to be outlawed in cosmetics labeling due to the fact that NO sunscreen is actually waterproof, here is the skinny straight from The Cancer Foundation.
"A sunscreen is considered water-resistant if the SPF level is determined to remain effective after 40 minutes of water immersion. Sunscreens that are labeled very water-resistant must retain an effective SPF after undergoing the same procedure for a total of 80 minutes.” But let’s play it safe and just remember to re-apply, re-apply, re-apply.
We hope you’ve enjoyed your ride here on the Sunscreen Express and will recommend it to all your friends. So long, folks!
'til Next Time!