Have you looked at the ingredients in your sunscreen lately? Did you know that research shows that 97% of Americans have sunscreen chemicals in their blood? Is your sunscreen toxic?
So I am going to begin by stating that I am not here to tell you not to wear sunscreen. What I want to talk about today is the harmful ingredients that may be lurking in your favorite sunscreens and about some safer alternatives for you and your family.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) published their Sunscreen Guide for 2015 and reported that 80 percent of 1,700 products they examined this year offer inferior sun protection or contain worrisome ingredients like oxybenzone and vitamin A. This included many of the most popular brands on the market.
TOXIC INGREDIENTS FOUND IN COMMERCIAL SUNSCREENS
If you buy your sunscreen from the drug store, grocery store, or any big chain discount store, there is a huge chance that your sunscreen is on the EWG’s Hall of Shame List – meaning worst sunscreens list.
According to their research, the EWG found “that some sunscreen ingredients absorb into the blood, and some have toxic effects. Some release skin-damaging free radicals in sunlight, some act like estrogen and disrupt hormones, and several can cause allergic reactions and skin irritation. The FDA has not established rigorous safety standards for sunscreen ingredients. “
Here’s a few toxic and hormone-disrupting ingredients to be on the lookout for:
- Para amino benzoic acid
- Octyl salicyclate
- Menthyl anthranilate
IS THE SUN REALLY THAT DANGEROUS?
Many of us live in fear of sun exposure. We slather on sunscreen anytime our skin is going to be exposed to the sun. But is this really necessary?
Think about it: Without sunshine, we could not survive. There is a Vitamin D deficiency that is plaguing the nation. Research shoes that 70-90% of us do not get enough Vitamin D. And lack of this crucial vitamin has been linked to many chronic diseases including cancer, depression, obesity, autoimmune and thyroid disorders, and many more.
Sunshine has many health benefits including:
- strengthening our immune system
- regulating thyroid function
- improving mental health
- protecting us from many different kinds of cancers
And as people have been spending less time in the sun and more money on sunscreens, skin cancer rates have been sky rocketing. Hmmmmm??? What’s up with that? Maybe the sun is NOT causing all of the problems.
Maybe Vitamin D is part of the problem. Or the lack of. Did you know that every cell in our body has receptors for Vitamin D? And that Vitamin D is essential for all aspects of life. Ironically, vitamin D deficiency can lead to aggressive forms of skin cancer. A ground-breaking 2011 study published in Cancer Prevention Research suggests that optimal blood levels of vitamin D offers protection against sunburn and skin cancer.
And did you know that researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that women who avoid sunbathing during the summer are twice as likely to die as those who sunbathe every day? The researchers concluded that the conventional dogma, which advises avoiding the sun at all costs and slathering on sunscreen to minimize sun exposure, is doing more harm than actual good. And I tend to agree!
- Spend 20 minutes a day in the sunshine without sunscreen. This will enable your body to make adequate amounts of Vitamin D.
- If you are going to be in the sun for extended periods of time, cover up with light clothing an a hat. If using a sunscreen, be sure to choose a safe, clean brand. (My 2 favorite are listed at the bottom of this post!)
- Eat a healthy diet full of natural antioxidants which will provide your skin some natural protection for damage. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and Omega 3 fatty acids (salmon and fish oil) are good choices.
HOW TO CHOOSE A SAFER SUNSCREEN
1. AVOID SPRAY SUNSCREENS
Yes, these sprays are convenient and easy to apply, but at what cost? These spray sunscreens release toxic particles into the air that are harmful to breathe in. I have also read that these spray sunscreens are flammable and can cause serious burns if you get too close to an open flame. SCARY!
2. AVOID SKY-HIGH SPF’S
SPF refers only to protection against UVB rays that burn the skin. It does not tell you much about the product’s protection against UVA rays – which are the harmful rays that penetrate deep into the skin, accelerate aging, and may be harmful to skin. These misleading numbers can lead to a false sense of protection encouraging people to stay out in the sun way longer than they should.
3. AVOID OXYBENZONE
Many beach and sport sunscreen contain oxybenzone. This toxic chemical absorbs directly into the bloodstream and acts like estrogen in the body, making it a hormone-disruptor. YIKES!! Oxybenzone can also trigger allergic reactions in the skin.
4. AVOID RETINYL PALMITATE
Many commercial sunscreen contain retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin, which is used often in night creams to help fight the signs of aging. However, according to government studies, retinyl palmitate may speed development of skin tumors and lesions on sun-exposed skin.
5. CHOOSE MINERAL SUNSCREENS WITH ZINC OR TITANIUM
These sunscreens do not breakdown in sunlight and usually do not absorb into the body. They are also more effective in blocking UVA rays. There is little worry of allergic reactions with these sunscreens.
MY FAVORITE CLEAN BRANDS
CounterSun Mineral Sunscreenfrom Beautycounter : An anti-aging sunscreen with non-nano zinc oxide and antioxidant-rich California Poppy. It’s formulated to protect against UVA, UVB & Blue Light rays. It comes in an air-powered spray that is safe to use. This is the best and cleanest sunscreen that I have found. It goes on smooth, no white mess, and it smells amazing. I prefer the lotion for myself. My kids prefer the sunscreen spray and the face stick. The nice things about the sunscreen stick is that it’s small enough to carry around in your purse and it goes on super easily so kiddos like it. You can check them all out HERE.
Badger : A zinc oxide, non-nano sunscreen that really works. It is a bit thicker and goes on a bit white. It has a nice smell and has been super effective for us at the pool. It can be easily found at most health food stores and on Amazon.
I want to hear from you: Are you concerned with toxic chemicals in your sunscreen?
Photo credit: depositphotos @ ridofranz
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