It is almost summer. Pools are opening, schools are closing, beaches are calling, and the smell of sunscreen seems to float on the breeze…
I am a pale skinned, freckled face redhead. Which basically means the sun and I are not on good terms. Even going outside for 10 minutes will equal big burns for me, which makes me well versed in the art of sunscreen. In the past I have used the brand names, the ones you and I grew up with. Last year, in an effort to start being more natural and organic not only in food but life I searched for a natural sunscreen. I came across the Environmental Working Group's posts about sunscreen and I was shocked. Like most people, I wear sunblock to prevent burns and skin cancer. But certain common sunscreen ingredients actually contribute to skin cancer. Seriously? After picking my jaw up off the floor, I immediately threw away the old sunscreen and haven't looked back.
How do you stay safe while enjoying all that summer has to offer? The Environmental Working Group (EWG) and most health officials agree the best sun protection is to stay in the shade and cover up. But that is hard to do in a lot of outdoor activities so sunscreen is a must. Here are my tips to keep in mind when shopping for sunscreen.
What you should avoid:
1. Oxybenzone – linked to hormone disruption, allergic reactions, and potential cell damage that could lead to skin cancer.
2. Vitamin A (look for “retinyl palmitate” or “retinol” on the label)- Studies have found that, while used on sun exposed skin, this particular type of Vitamin A can increase your risk of developing melanoma.
3. Sprays– Knowing how unsafe sunscreen can be on your skin, imagine what it can do to your lungs. If you see someone spraying down at the beach this summer, turn away and cover your nose. (Organic sprays are the exception)
• Ultraviolet blocking chemicals absorb and disperse UV rays in the body
• Chemical ingredients have been linked to hormone disruption, allergies, and cell damage
• Chemicals may break down over time into free radicals (carcinogens)
• Absorbs into the skin and disperses throughout the body
• Takes 20-30 minutes before it becomes affective
I encourage you to read The Environmental Working Group's 2013 Guide to Safe Sunscreens features ratings for 1,800 sunscreens, lip balms, moisturizers and also cosmetics. You can see where your favorite brands lie (pun intended) and also get recommendations for safe brands. I recently reviewed one brand Goddess Garden's Adult and Child organic sunscreen that met EWG criteria for a safe product.
What brand do you use? Are you planning to change if it doesn't meet up to EWG standards?