It’s ALMOST SUMMER…a season filled with backyard BBQ’s, beach outings and general fun in the sun. So, this is a great time to remind everyone that being sunscreen savvy about sun protection this summer, and every day, is key.
Remember those old days of crackin’ out the baby oil and a light reflector thingy to get a deep tan? SUN DAMAGE CITY, my friend. Sun damage you can’t necessarily SEE…but that an ultraviolet camera can reveal:
This damage on this 19 year old girl will eventually come to the surface of her skin and be visible.
The best protection from the sun is a hat and long sleeved shirts and pants (and of course the essential sunglasses) but sometimes it’s just not possible to cover up all of your skin. That’s when you slap on the solar armour….sunscreen.
But some sunscreens can actually HARM you…so I always advice peeps to read their labels and check out this wonderful site by the Environmental Working Group:
The EWG has a team of scientists, engineers and other smarties who pore over government data, legal documents, scientific studies and do their own lab tests to expose threats to your health and the environment. EVERY YEAR, this wonderful organization tests sunscreens to report on their safety.
Type in your brand of sunscreen and make sure it as a LOW HAZARD rating – if not, you could be putting your health at risk.
Here’s how sunscreen works. Sunscreen have chemicals that release free radicals. Free radicals are responsible for aging.
Here’s how the EWG breaks it down:
“Sunscreens can help reduce UV-related free radical damage by diverting the radiation from the skin, but the ingredients themselves can release their own free radicals in the process. When the sunscreen molecules absorb UV energy, diverting it from the skin, the molecules dispel this excess energy by releasing free radicals. In a delicate balancing act, an effective sunscreen prevents more free radical damage (from UV radiation) than it creates through its own free radical generation. It reduces UV exposure without itself damaging skin. Sunscreen makers commonly add antioxidants to their products to soak up free radicals from either source, UV radiation or sunscreen itself.”
Here are the baddies (the HARMFUL ingredients) to watch out for:
Oxybenzone – STAY AWAY from this one for sure. It’s a hormone disrupter.
Padimate O – This one is tied to DNA damage
PABA – This one’s shown to be an allergy-creator.
Also, stay away from sunscreens that contain the form of vitamin A, retinyl palmitate, which can trigger damage, possible cancer in the sun. (It’s fine to use vitamin A indoors – but it should NOT be in your sunscreen.)
The EWG is also adding SPRAY SUNSCREENS as potential harmful because they can be inhaled, and they don’t cover skin completely.
The EWG says SPF values above 50+ try to trick you into believing they’ll prevent sun damage. Don’t trust them. SPF protection tops out at 30 to 50.
On the EWG site, you can find out if your sunscreen is a hazard, and you can find a less harmful one as well. The site says The effective complete UVA blockers approved for use in the United States are avobenzone, zinc oxide, titanium dioxide and mexoryl.
In fact, the EWP says:
“Sunscreens without zinc and titanium could accelerate by an average of 20 per cent the skin damage, premature aging, wrinkling and UV-induced immune system damage linked to UVA exposure.”
So look for natural products that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide and avobenzone.
If an all-natural brand says “micronized” titanium dioxide and “micronized” zinc oxide, this could be bad. The jury is still out on these mico-particles, with studies showing these ingredients to be potentially toxic in the presence of light.
For 2015, these are a few of the brands that have made the SAFE SUNSCREEN List:
California Naturel SPF 30 – Read my review of California Naturel SPF 30 Sunscreen
The Honest Company
If you’re seriously concerned about sun damage, consider getting some UV-resistant clothing.
So, remember, along with your sun hat and UMBRELLA, take your vat of NON-HARMFUL sunscreen, and your shades to protect those peepers – and have a great summer!
But remember, ONE sunburn can create a lifetime of sun damage, so careful out there!