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Health & Grooming

How to choose the right sunscreen?

Sunscreen is very important nowadays, not just because it’s summer or if you live in a tropical country like me where it’s always “summer” whole year round but because we don’t want premature skin aging or the worst scenario: skin cancer. There are so many sunscreen products over the counter or displayed on the shelf, but what exactly should you buy?

There are 2 types of sunscreen, physical and chemical sunscreen. Physical sunscreen or mineral sunscreen protects you by reflecting back on the UV rays. Physical sunscreens that you should look in the ingredients are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Chemical sunscreen, on the other hand, absorbs the UV rays and then once full it either turns to another chemical or heat that may harm the environment or your self, though there is no scientific evidence or claim about the danger of the chemical reaction yet. Ingredients that you need to look in chemical sunscreen are oxybenzoneavobenzoneoctisalate, octocrylenehomosalate, and octinoxate. Sometimes companies make a complex/simplified variation of it to intensify, keep it long-lasting, or to complement other ingredients so those above mentioned may not that obvious so watch for ingredients that have “-oxy-” or “-ox-“, “-oz-” or “-zo-“, “-oc-“, “-one” as they are chemical compound that has trioxygen or ozone ( O3 ) an example is Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane ( C20H22O3 ) also known as Avobenzone.

Quick History

Before we dive in, let us take a little skim in the memory lane of sunscreen and thank the people behind this product that we are using today.

Develop Sunscreen

The founder of L’Oreal, Eugene Schueller, a chemist, developed a sunscreen formula.
1936

First sunscreen with SPF rating

The first big sunscreen product that had a sun protection factor (SPF) of two was invented in 1938 by Australian chemist Franz Greiter and it was called “Gletscher Crème” or “Glacier Cream”.
1938

SPF Rating

Franz Greiter also invented the SPF rating in 1962.
1962

Water-resistant sunscreen

Companies were starting to develop water-resistant sunscreen. Focus on longer-lasting protection as well as broader spectrum.
1977

US FDA adopted the SPF rating

U.S. Food and Drug Administration adopted the SPF calculation in 1978
1978

First UVA/UVB sunscreen

In 1980, Coppertone developed the first UVA/UVB sunscreen, which protects skin from both long- and short-wave UV rays.
1980

US FDA issued a set of comprehensive rules

US FDA issued a set of comprehensive rules to help consumers identify suitable sunscreen products. ( 21 USC CHAPTER 9, SUBCHAPTER V, Part I: Nonprescription Sunscreen and Other Active Ingredients )
June 2011

Citation for the above timeline: Bellis, Mary. “A History of Sunscreen.” ThoughtCo, Nov. 23, 2019, thoughtco.com/suncreen-history-1992440.

What is SPF?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, a rating or measurement of the sunscreen’s ability to protect the skin from UVB rays. By multiplying the SPF factor by the length of time it takes for the person to suffer a burn without sunscreen. So, if you buy a sunscreen with SPF 10 and you know that it takes 10minutes for your skin to get a sunburn if you don’t have sunscreen applied thus the sunscreen you bought can extend your protection up to 100 minutes before you get a sunburn (assuming you don’t sweat or you don’t wipe the lotion off your skin).

10minutes X 10SPF =100 minutes protection

The SPF is only a rough estimate because it still depends on your skin types, sunlight intensity, and amount of sunscreen applied. Applying the proper amount of 2mg/cm2 of the skin or about one ounce (6 teaspoons) for full-body coverage and reapply every 2 hours. If you under-apply sunscreens, for example, ¼ to ½ the amount required then a half application of an SPF 30 sunscreen only provides the square root of the SPF thus it only provides an effective SPF of 5.5!

SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays while SPF 30 blocks 97% and SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays. Therefore the high SPF does not really offer significant protection than SPF 30.

What is PA followed by plus signs?

PA+ and more + means Protection grade against UVA rays. PA is a Japanese ranking for sun protection which is now widely used. This is based on Persistent Pigment Darkening reaction reading at 2 to 4 hours of sun exposure.

PA+ means the sunscreen has some UVA protection while PA++ provides moderate protection, and PA+++ has high UVA protection, then the PA ++++ provides extremely high UVA protection. PA rating is still not the gold-standard and still inconsistent due to our skin’s differences. Some people get darker fast while others take longer to tan. PA rating is not related to time unlike SPF therefore no one knows how long a sunscreen with PA rating can protect you from UVA.

UVB and UVA, what are they?

UVA, UVB, and UVC are electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength from 10 nm to 400 nm from sun rays that affect the health of our skin. Only UVA and UVB penetrate to Earth’s surface while most UVC is absorbed by the ozone layer.

I don't need no stinkin sunscreen!!!
photo by gstreetphotos

UVA wavelength is 315 to 400nm and this ultraviolet beside burning can cause skin aging to skin cancer as it penetrates the skin cells. UVA is an invisible ray of the sun which accounts for 95% of UV radiation reaching the Earth and maintains the same level of strength during daylight hours. Because it has a high wavelength it can penetrate windows and clouds. This is the cause of tanning in your skin.

UVB wavelength is 280 to 315nm and this ultraviolet is the main cause of sunburn and blistering. Unlike UVA the UVB’s intensity fluctuates, the strongest and poses the highest risk starts from 9 AM to 4 PM here in the Philippines. UVB is also intense in high altitudes or on reflective surfaces like snow or ice. UVB is the visible light that can be blocked by your sunscreen’s SPF or glass.

Recommendation

Just a disclaimer, I am not an expert but based on the above research what I could recommend for a sunscreen that you would choose is the Physical sunscreen. Physical sunscreen protects you for both UVA and UVB rays as it reflects the radiation and somehow longer-lasting. Choose the sunscreen with a minimum of SPF of 30 and PA ++++ rating for broad protection and at the same time economically acceptable. The only caveat for physical sunscreen is it leaves a white cast on your skin which is very unpleasant to look at especially if you are naturally brown. Physical sunscreen is perfect if you are at the beach or doing activities that require long exposure outside.

Chemical sunscreen can be your everyday sunscreen provided that you don’t stay more than 30 minutes of exposure. This is perfect for everyday use because it does not leave you an intense white cast on your skin and can be easily concealed by powder, foundation, or CC cream. Just make sure to reapply every 2 hours and apply as long as you’re exposed to light (sunlight is not the only source of light).

Personally, I have a sunscreen for my face and another for my body. For my face, I use L’Oreal UV Perfect or Bioré UV Aqua Rich while for my body I use Nivea Extra White Serum. During summer I use either GT Papaya Lotion or Banana Boat.

L’Oreal UV Perfect has SPF50 and PA++++ and claims to have advance 12hours UV protection. It has Ecamsule (tradename Mexoryl) known for its excellent photostability. Sunscreens containing ecamsule are exclusive to L’Oréal and its brands. L’Oreal UV Perfect is both chemical and physical sunscreen.

Because L’Oreal UV Perfect is expensive (30ml is around Php550) and difficult to find here in Cebu so an alternative is Bioré UV Aqua Rich. A Japanese sunscreen made by Kao Corporation that has an SPF of 50 and PA++++. I like this one because it’s light and similar consistency with L’Oreal’s. By the way, both leave a little white cast and oily feeling and look though manageable by applying powder.

For daily body sunscreen, I use Nivea Extra White Serum because it has SPF33 and PA+++ rating. It is also light to the skin and does not leave a white cast. For the 200ml tube, it cost around Php300 in Watsons pharmacy.

GT Papaya Lotion is a budget-friendly sunscreen and made in the Philippines. This sunscreen is a physical sunscreen with SPF 40. Even it does not have a PA rating, as mentioned above in my recommendation that physical sunscreen is the best as it reflects rays instead of absorbing it. Since I have a fair complexion this also complements me and creates a brightening effect on my skin (because again it reflects light).

If the activity requires dipping in water then the Banana Boat that has SPF50 and PA++++ is what I use because it is water-resistant. This is a chemical sunscreen so I apply this 20minutes prior to sun exposure and despite its water-resistant feature I still need to reapply after swimming or towel since the activity might wipe off the sunscreen.

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Career Health & Grooming

Why do you need to take your company’s Annual Physical Exam?

Some companies offer annual health check-ups for their employees and I’m too lucky and grateful that the company I’m in is offering that one. Annual Physical Exam (APE), well self-explanatory is a yearly health check-up and in the company that I’m in it even extends to my parents. This perk or service is provided to us for free and for our advantage; I never heard of any major contradiction of why they don’t like taking an APE except for:

  • it is taking some of their personal time
  • they don’t like needles
  • the annoyance in urine and stool sample gathering
  • uncomfortable or embarrassing genital check-up.
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Overall, taking an APE is a total advantage to you, not all companies offer this opportunity. Some, if ever they have one, it’s a charge to the employee’s pay. So, if your company offer’s one and it’s free then grab that to see your health status. After all, our health is one of our major capital as employees. Below are the advantages I see if you take a little time to spend on the Annual Physical Exam.

  • Check for possible diseases so they can be treated early – It’s really an advantage if we are able to check early signs of health failure and treat it as soon as possible before it becomes complicated. Treating early can save your life,  save you from stress, and money as it’s still manageable and less expensive whereas if it’s identified in a critical stage.
  • Identify any issues that may become medical concerns in the future – prevention is better than cure, that’s a very common message we see in every health care facility which is very true. Somewhat similar to the above advantage except that this time we are checking for signs, symptoms, and even assess our lifestyle that may lead to a health problem or to its early signs.
  • Update necessary immunizations – some healthcare provider offers immunizations, grab that opportunity to protect you from viruses that can temporarily halt your productivity. Sometimes, this perk extends to your family either for free or at a discounted price.
  • Ensure that you are maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine – depending on your results, sometimes there will follow-up check-up to ensure your health. The physician will also recommend exercises you can follow or medicine to take to address the risk to a possible health problem.
  • Build a relationship with your Primary Care Physician (PCP) – your company’s PCP can give you recommendations to other specialist or advises if you have a specific concern that is beyond the scope of the APE. This is very helpful because if we don’t have knowledge in medical and health-related areas we need their input to navigate in treating our concerns.

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Health & Grooming

My Keto Diet Journey (Side Effects)

One of the reasons why I don’t dive to full blown keto is its side effect. As a nocturnal worker, I think it would be too much for my body to take the stress. Though I slightly don’t believe that there is an impact in working night-shift but I think the hormones that usually appear at night might be depleted and the body will try to balance it always. If I will undergo full-blown keto my body would balance another problem the chemical changes inside and I might not like the effect of it to my day-to-day or shall we say nightly activity.

Prior to deciding to try the keto-ish diet, I am already aware that I will get flu-like symptoms in the first week or two. This flu-like symptom is common as part of the body’s carb withdrawal and they call it keto-flu. Any body chemical withdrawal will lead to this kind of effect, like if you withdraw from using cigarettes, alcohol, or prohibited drugs.

Headache, weakness, irritability, constipation, nausea, and vomiting are some of the symptoms of keto-flu. During this diet where sugar or glucose is lacking, the body will switch its energy source to the stored fats which have an effect of dehydration, dizziness, muscle soreness, irritability, and nausea. The dehydration will be dangerous as it may lead to cardiac arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat and can be deadly, so always make sure to talk to your doctor if this diet is for you.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Sex drive may drop but no deep research to support this for now and maybe only cause of the low level of sugar. According to Dr. Nancy P. Rahnama, a bariatric and internal medicine doctor based in California
The ketogenic diet can definitely result in a drop in libido when starting the diet, as the dieter will be experiencing symptoms of carb withdrawal and potentially the keto flu, once the withdrawal and flu-like symptoms have passed, and the dieter has adapted to the lower-carb lifestyle, the libido will most likely reset and potentially be better than prior as a result of weight loss from the diet..

Other known symptoms or side-effect of keto diet or decrease in glucose intake are bad breath, fatigue, irregular menstrual cycles, decreased bone density, sleep issues, constipation, and irregular deposit to your throne (frequency of excretion).

In my case, I did not have all these symptoms except for the unusual frequency of excretion and dehydration during the day that I was not able to eat rice or any source of glucose (this was when I had a steak date). I ate rice once a day or once in 2 days instead of thrice a day and I still drink soft drinks, eat bread or cookies if I have a chance. Though I could say that my diet, for now, is not something that would show an impact to my body but I can say that it feels light and not so bloated and I feel confident too in wearing T-shirts. However, I notice that it will trigger depression or an unknown source of sadness. I know that I am not yet ready for a straight keto diet but I’m planning that in the next couple of months I will try the full blown keto-diet and see how my self survives. Wish me luck! 🙂

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Health & Grooming

My Keto Diet Journey (Body Measurement)

Before I start my semi-Keto diet I need to measure my vital statistics first, this will be my baseline or starting point. Measuring your body before doing any diet or lifestyle changes will give you an idea of how the diet or lifestyle change impacted you.

How to measure your body with a tape?

  • Chest: Measure directly under your breasts, as high up as possible.
  • Bust: Measure all the way around your bust and back on the line of your nipples.
  • Upper arm: Measure above your elbows – around the fullest part.
  • Forearms: Measure below your elbows – around the fullest part.
  • Waist: Measure at its narrowest point width-wise, usually just above the navel.
  • Midway: Measure midway between the widest part of your hips and your waist.
  • Hips: Measure around the widest part of the hipbones.
  • Thighs: Measure around fullest part of upper leg while standing
  • Knees: Measure immediately above the knee.
  • Calves: Measure around fullest part.

 Next was to weigh myself; in our company’s clinic, they have this digital weighing scale that will also calculate the body fat percentage and I took advantage of that so that I don’t have to calculate my body fat percentage manually and besides I don’t have a body fat caliper.Apparently, the result was unbelievable. Most of the results are normal except for my body fat.

20190406_041440
The clinic’s reference infographic

So Why it’s important to measure body fat?

We’ve heard already what’s BMI, it’s Body Mass Index and honestly before I thought that’s the best way to determine if you are healthy. I was skinny during my adolescent age and my BMI before was underweight and it’s a struggle for me to raise myself to normal BMI because eating was not my hobby (it’s more of a chore hahahaha). Today, my BMI is normal but I also now understand that BMI is not the only gauge to consider thy self healthiness. My BMI says I’m in the normal range but the reality could be because of the fat deposits that add my weight (I’m skinny-fat). So, body fat measurement is important if your goal is to reduce that visceral fat around your tummy. Visceral fat is dangerous because it’s an early sign that you will have health complications when you reach 40 plus of age. Luckily, according to the machine, my visceral fat is within the normal range, however, my overall body fat percentage is high and it’s obvious they are all concentrated in my tummy area. Here in this post, I mentioned the ideal body fat percentage: Body Sculpting Project

Record your data

Now that I have my body statistics I have to keep a record on it and measure my progress as I go along. You can find an app that will help you keep that record in which will give you history or progress report. I searched it in Play store and this is what I saw: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.cookapps.bodystatbook&hl=en 

body_stat_goal

In my case, I’m comfortable recording it in Google Sheet and create graphs and charts in any way I want in the future. At the end of the day, it’s all up to you on how you keep a tab of your progress.

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Health & Grooming

My Keto Diet Journey (Meal Planning)

Because it’s a diet so obviously it will involve changes in my usual meal. I’m a Filipino and we eat rice 3 times a day! I’ve been eating rice since maybe when I was 2 years old up to this day, so it’s really difficult for me to stay away from rice.

I did some research and find this site helpful in preparing your keto diet meals: https://www.dietdoctor.com however it’s kind of difficult for me to follow some or actually most of its food recommendations because of availability and my taste.

But here are videos from youtube that I find very helpful too in deciding my meal:

So I need to carefully examine our Filipino meals that are easy for me to source and make, soup is definitely a NO-NO for me because it needs a lot of rice as well as anything salty. So here’ are the Pinoy meals that I think I can eat or prepare:

  • Fried fish or chicken
  • Liempo
  • Egg
  • Roasted Chicken
  • Lechon (though this is difficult because it’s salty, it needs rice hahahaha)
  • Sear pork or chicken

Of course, I know that it will be boring for me as a Filipino to eat all of those without rice or at least a substitute so I’m thinking of eating it with these substitutes:

  • sweet potato
  • carrots
  • quinoa
  • cauliflower
  • leafy vegetables like cabbage and lettuce

I will still consider banana and I will still occasionally eat rice though. I know the sweet potato is kind of off and the occasional eating of rice but please forgive me this time. I need to condition my body before diving straight to the keto diet.

FB_IMG_1553972462219
I don’t want to end up like this and fail in the long run if I will surprise my body with this change in diet and lifestyle.

I find it important for me to stay in the game of keto diet; I don’t want to have separation anxiety or the likes or maybe reduce the impact of it if it’s something unavoidable. For now I would say that I’m in semi-keto, slowly but surely it is!!
Note: Keto diet is not for everyone if you have a pre-existing condition like diabetes or hypertension or maybe you are pregnant you need to consult your doctor first.

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Health & Grooming

My Keto Diet Journey (intro)

Okay, I saw this new diet fad I guess about keto diet and basically, in a nutshell, is eating without carbs in your diet. TV talk shows are discussing this one and what makes me say “waah! it’s true!!” was when I saw this topic from Rated K showing Juana Change transformation. Actor-director Mae Paner a.k.a Juana Change was known for her vocal deviating opinion in the government’s not so good plan or work.

She’s aware that she was really obese back then but with the keto diet, she extremely lost a significant amount of weight in just about 10 months.

Well, I don’t have much of that problem like her and my only problem is my bulging tummy which is very unproportionate from the rest of my body. I have a skinny-fat body figure. Skinny-fat is a body figure where fat deposits are concentrated in a specific or some areas of the body; usually for men is in the tummy or stomach. That fat is called visceral fat and this fat is dangerous in the long run especially when paired with an aging body.

So, I decided that I will try this keto diet. I’m pretty sure that this will be a difficult journey but hopefully, this won’t be like my previous year/s goal where it failed. If I can remember it’s called Body Sculpting Project; it failed because I stop going to the gym. Thankfully my body did not go big after I stop, because most of the people that I know say that when you stop working out your body will go big twice as before.

But just to be straight, For now, I will not dive immediately to the hard-core keto diet because as of now I don’t think I will survive on that level. I will consider my diet as “ketoish“, or not so strict keto. I believe that I have to condition myself first before deciding if keto is the diet fit for me.