India has become the first Asian country to ban the testing of cosmetics on live animals. Such tests are performed to check the safety of ingredients before skin tests are made on human volunteers. Numerous alternative tests exists that avoid animal suffering.
With this initiative, India follows in the footsteps of the 27 European Union (EU) countries that applied this rule in a stepwise process starting in 2003 and ending in March 2013. However, unlike the EU, Indian health authorities will temporarily allow importation of ingredients tested on animals from other countries. Animal advocacy groups celebrate this step for a major Asian country and continue to denounce these practices in places like the USA and China.
Sunscreens are not what they used to be. In the 1970s and 1980s, what mattered was a deep tan and UV radiation protection barely received a mention. But devastating skin cancer figures forced a rule change in a market worth about 1,000 million dollars in the USA alone and which relies on innovation to diversify.
Correctly labelling a sunscreen is no trivial task. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken more than 30 years to bring order to the sunscreen market and set standards to test the effectiveness of products. From 18 June 2012, sunscreens sold in the USA have to comply with new rules established by the FDA. They are required to be "broad spectrum”, i.e., they must protect against both UVA (responsible for premature ageing) and UVB (responsible for sunburn) and they must indicate how many minutes they remain effective after immersion in water. Read more
The skin is our protective shield against external aggressions. It works tirelessly, day and night, year in, year out, to ensure that our body is comfortably adapted to the environment. We are all very aware that it is vital to keep our skin healthy and that's why we care for it.
A recent study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that most medical consultations refer to skin problems. The research was based on an analysis of the medical records of more than 140,000 people (people of all ages, half of them men, the other half women) from Olmsted County (USA), who authorized statistical use of their data collected between 2005 and 2009. It was found that 42.7% of queries were related to various skin diseases and problems, followed by consultations regarding arthritis (33.6%), the back (23.9%) and cholesterol (22.4%), in that order. While the dermatology consultations referred to all kinds of skin conditions, acne and sebaceous cysts were the most frequent motives for consultation. It seems clear that when we observe a small change in the skin, we become more concerned than when we feel other symptoms.
It is not just a matter of lying down and smearing the skin with any product promising a safe and lasting tan. Sunscreens are not what they were. But how should we use the creams? Are they all safe? How much does clothing protect us? Here are some tips to make the most of our skin care.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), we should use a broad-spectrum shield, which protects against the UVA rays responsible for skin ageing and against the UVB rays that cause sunburn. It is best to use a high sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. This is even more important for people with fair skin (phototype I and II), children, pregnant women and people doing water or mountain sports who spend long hours under a blazing sun. For the first sun exposure, the SPF should never be under 15. We need not go to the other extreme, however, as an SPF of more than 50 does not afford more protection. Read more