Is Sunscreen Safe?

Is Sunscreen Safe?

Learn how to protect your skin without the dangers of harmful hormone-disrupting chemicals…

July is a prime time to enjoy the outdoors.  All that sunshine and fresh air combined with the fun of summertime activities means most of us are trying to take advantage of every last drop of daylight that we can.  It may be great for our vitamin D levels, but it’s not a good idea to spend too long out in the sunshine with our skin unprotected.

July is UV Safety Month and while we’re enjoying those extra hours in the sun, it’s important to understand some of the risks.  Extended exposure to both UV-A (the long wavelengths that can penetrate to the middle level of your skin) and UV-B (the shorter wavelengths that your outer layer of skin is exposed to) can be very damaging.  These UV rays can cause wrinkles, prematurely age your skin, and can also cause skin cancer.

Is Sunscreen the Answer?

It would make sense to think that applying sunscreen would be a great way to protect your skin.  Unfortunately, although they may protect against sunburn, not all sunscreens are actually good for you.  A significant number of products (the big name brands you’ll find on your supermarket or drugstore shelf) contain harmful ingredients that are absorbed into your system and have the potential to be very damaging to your health.  Some of the top offenders include:

  • Oxybenzone – This ingredient appears as a filter in the vast majority of sunscreens on the market. Unfortunately, it has a high allergen profile and is also a hormone disrupting ingredient.
  • Homosalate – Although it’s a UV absorbing ingredient, it’s far from benign. Another potential hormone disruptor, it can accumulate in the body faster than our systems can flush it out.
  • Parabens – A hormone disrupting preservative that is strongly linked to a wide range of health issues including allergies, reproductive and developmental toxicity, there is a growing suspicion that it may also be linked to breast cancer.

Safe, Natural Sunscreen: Our Four Favorites

The good news is, you can avoid these harmful ingredients and instead try a sunscreen that provides real sun protection without high levels of toxins! Overall, you’ll want to look for a product that contains non-nanoparticle zinc oxide and is UV-A and UV-B protective and free of the harmful toxins we mentioned above. While zinc oxide (the white stuff you’ve probably seen on your lifeguard’s nose) has some environmental and bioaccumulation concerns, in its non-nano form, it’s really the safest effective option out there.

Based on our experience, here are four favorites that can keep you safe in the sun:

  1. 3rd Rock Sunblock – SPF 35 from non-nano zinc oxide – provides UV-A and UV-B protection – Designed by a chemical engineer and avid surfer, this product provides maximum water resistance (up to 80 minutes!) and is made from 100% food grade edible ingredients. It’s also free of endocrine disruptors and is the only sunscreen with a cancer-protective alkaline pH. Glycerine based, you’ll find that it’s not greasy and spreads easily on the skin.
  2. All Good Coconut Sunstick – SPF 30 from non-nano zinc oxide – provides UV-A and UV-B protection – It also contains nourishing organic oils like jojoba, coconut and avocado that are of low level concern and it’s a convenient stick that’s easy to apply to face, nose and ears.
  3. Sunumbra Classic Natural Sunscreen – SPF 30 from non-nano zinc oxide – provides UV-A and UV-B protection – Water resistant for 40 minutes, it contains inactive ingredients that are of low level concern for toxicity including antioxidants to boost immunity.
  4. On Hand Lotions Sun’s Up Sunscreen – SPF 35 from non-nano zinc oxide – An easy-to-glide-on sunscreen stick made with non-environmentally or biologically toxic ingredients. They also offer a “Bugscreen” option that contains special insect-repelling essential oils!

5 Tips for Sun Safety

In addition to choosing a healthier sunscreen, don’t forget these tips in order to love the skin you’re in while reducing your risk for sunburn or melanoma:

  • Remember to re-apply your sunscreen as needed. You’ll need to do it more often when you’re sweating or in the water.
  • Don’t forget your ears, the back of your neck, the backs of your knees, and your feet.
  • Avoid extended exposure between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. when the sun is at its highest and strongest.
  • Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses and/or a sun hat.
  • Be sure to get an annual skin check by a dermatologist so if any suspicious moles or spots do arise, they can be taken care of immediately.


Resources:
10 Shocking Things About Sunscreen – http://annlouise.com/2013/04/30/the-10-most-shocking-things-about-sunscreen/
American Academy of Dermatology Sunscreen FAQs – https://www.aad.org/media/stats/prevention-and-care/sunscreen-faqs
Know Your Risk for Skin Cancer – https://selfchec.org/prevention/be-sun-safe/?gclid=CLzvpPXsyc0CFQiQaQodmsYKLQ#risk
Melanoma Research Foundation Understanding Melanoma – https://www.aad.org/media/stats/prevention-and-care/sunscreen-faqs

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