Health & Beauty

WTF is…Volume I

Welcome to the first installment of a new column called “WTF Is…”, where the Health Team tackles confusing health concepts. In this volume, Priya Kosana breaks down how sunscreen actually works to protect your skin and Olivia Dela Cruz demystifies what mindful eating is.

How the F Does Sunscreen Work

Priya Kosana

Every skincare guru on TikTok drones on and on about the importance of using sunscreen. But how does it actually help improve your skin’s quality? I often found it to be an extra oily layer that caused me to break out and itch. So, what does this inconvenient white concoction do? 

Sunscreen blocks harmful ultraviolet radiation, or UV, from penetrating skin cells and causing free radical damage. Free radical damage breaks down the collagen-structuring skin cells. Collagen loss can result in dark spots, wrinkles and even skin cancer in some cases.  UV radiation wreaks this havoc on the skin by penetrating the DNA in our skin cells and breaking the binding between nucleotides.

It’s worth noting that there are two forms of UV radiation that the sun emits. UVA radiation penetrates deep in the dermis and is responsible for the cancer-causing effects of UV radiation. UVB radiation causes more topical symptoms like sunburn. The sun emits about 95% UVA radiation and 5% UVB radiation.  So, you can imagine that if you are experiencing a sunburn, 10 times the amount of UVA radiation has already penetrated deep inside the skin.

Once you’re at Sephora looking at the sun protection aisle, you will quickly face another dilemma: chemical or mineral sunscreen? Chemical sunscreens are often clear and have a more gel-like consistency. These formulations work to absorb and neutralize UV radiation before it hits the skin. The only drawback to chemical sunscreen is that the complex chemicals present in them are more likely to irritate the skin and cause other forms of damage. 

Conversely, mineral, or physical, sunscreen uses a very simple mechanism to provide protection. The minerals create a physical barrier that reflects radiation rays away from the face. But often, physical sunscreens can be difficult to blend into skin and leave a white cast on the skin. They can also often be comedogenic and clog pores, which can result in the development of pimples. 

In my personal experience, I used to easily shirk off the need for sunscreen due to the hassle of blending it in and the lack of short-term skin benefits. However, after prolonged exposure to the sun, I noticed that many of my acne scars and other marks would turn a darker color. The hyperpigmentation was,and still is, a huge blow to my confidence. I then resorted to purchasing expensive retinoids and vitamin C products in an effort to reverse the damage. Using sunscreen would have been the best method to prevent hyperpigmentation damage from even occurring.

Some of my favorite sunscreens:


  • Shiseido Clear Sunscreen Stick SPF 50+
  • Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40
  • Innisfree Daily UV Defense with SPF 36


  • Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer with SPF 30
  • Dr. Jart+ Cicapair™ Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment SPF 30


WTF is Mindful Eating

Olivia Dela Cruz 

Deciding whether an eating trend is a guise for restrictive dieting or a truly healthy way of eating is difficult. Mindful eating might sound like a fad diet that encourages women to eat an almond a day, but it is actually an old method of not only eating food but thinking about how it affects you and the rest of the world. This is not to say the process of mindful eating is entirely realistic, but it can become a good guide for healthy habits if adapted to your own lifestyle. 

 The core of mindful eating is becoming aware of the food you consume and your experience with that food, before, during and after the meal. For some, this process can also involve sustainability of food prep and consumption, as well as how what you eat impacts the world. Instead of cutting out “unhealthy” foods, mindful eating practices prompt the individual to focus on the foods they are eating in hopes of leading them to healthier choices.

 Mindful eating originates from the idea of mindfulness, a Buddhist concept that means to focus on the present while being aware of your own thoughts and bodily feelings. Mindfulness can be practiced as a form of meditation, but it is increasingly incorporated into people’s daily lives. Even though it is supposed to be a basic human function, it has become progressively harder to be mindful in a world of distractions and stress. And when it comes to food, the diversity of choices and precedence of other priorities often makes healthier options seem unappealing and unreachable. 

 This attention to how you buy, prepare, serve and consume food could be a method of improving the way you eat. Nutritionists have cited a lack of mindful eating in contributing to the obesity problem in America, as well as the amount of growing health issues. We are constantly doing other things while eating, restaurants are serving larger sizes than ever and healthy foods are much more expensive than junk food; they can also be a lot harder to make taste good. Unlike most diets and food trends, mindful eating does not promote the elimination of these delicious foods from your diet but rather encourages the eater to pay attention to what they are eating and how they are eating it.

 However, some scientists have unachievable expectations for consumers. They recommend:

      Eating without distraction

      Expressing gratitude for food before eating

      Bringing all your senses to the meal

      Examining the effect food has on your body 

      Making eating an intentional act

 While good in theory, these tips are probably not in reach for the average eater. It is understandable that most people do not have the time to feel grateful for every bite, and it is impossible to never multitask while eating, even if it is just talking to a friend or watching TV. Taking note of how every food affects your appearance is a recipe for bad self-image, even if the original intention may be positive

 It is better to start with more realistic expectations and tips for beginning mindful eating: 

      Make a specific shopping list to avoiding browsing less healthy grocery options

      Eat when you are hungry — not starving

      Eat slower than you want and chew thoroughly

      Distinguish between true hunger and non-hunger triggers

      Think about which foods make you feel worse after eating them

      Learn to cope with food guilt/anxiety

 When put into the content of your own life, these guidelines are manageable and beneficial to many people who want to eat mindfully. However, the main goal is to feel good and do what you think is right for you. Sometimes, you just want to eat. Sometimes, you want to get fast food when you are not even hungry or make dessert even though you are full. It is important to give yourself the freedom to do these things without guilt because there is nothing wrong with indulging when it is what you want. 

 Mindful eating can be incorporated into your life without overtaking it, and it might just be worth the time to consider some of these tips if you are feeling unhappy with your health. 


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