With the nice weather in full swing it’s time to be outside in the sun enjoying the nice weather. Those of us who spend a lot of time in the sun or who have children who are out in the sun need some form of skin protection when being out for extended periods of time. But which products are actually good for us?
We have always heard our moms say “put on your sunscreen and hat before you go out!” She was right, but only sort of. The hat is a great idea. In fact, wearing a hat and a nice cotton shirt is the best way to protect yourself from over exposure of sun. The sunscreen on the other hand, not such a great idea depending on which one you are using.
The Environmental Workings Group released a sunscreen guide in 2011 and the results may come as a shock to some people. Only 20% of sunscreens on the market passed their safety and recommendation tests. 20%! There test was actually quite simple. For a product to be safe and recommended it simply needed to work and contain no harmful chemicals. Sounds simple. But in a world where chemicals are the name of the game, it isn’t quite that easy.
In fact, the biggest brands among failures included Aveeno, Banana Boat, CVS, and Neutrogena. All brands the average consumer would generally trust. The two ingredients these brands, along with most others, have in them that should be avoided are oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate.
Oxybenzone is a potential endocrine-disrupting chemical that can cause hormone disruption and cell damage. It is found in well over the majority of sunscreens on the market. I took a walk down to the local drug store to check out sunscreen before writing this and found that every single sunscreen available in the store contained Oxybenzone! On top of this, there was not one mineral based natural option on the shelf!
Retinyl Palmitate is a form of topical vitamin A used in sunscreens. However, when exposed to sunlight for long periods of time, it has been found to increase the development of skin lesions and tumors. Due to its harmful effects, The Environmental Workings Group recommends that consumers avoid ALL products containing Retinyl Palmitate.
When shopping for sunscreens be sure to read the labels and avoid buying sunscreens loaded with toxic chemicals. It may be tough to find but a trip to a natural health store can often do the trick. Look for sunscreens that contain zinc and titanium minerals as opposed to toxic chemicals as listed above. Remember, the best sun protection is wearing clothing to protect you and finding shade. Only use sunscreens when absolutely necessary.
Also remember, it is not necessary you wear sunscreen every time you are out in the sun. Sunscreen does NOT allow the body to absorb any vitamin D from sunlight. So if you plan on being outside for a short period of time, skip the sunscreen and feed your body the vitamin D that will keep it healthy.