What You Need to Know About Sunscreen
It’s almost summer! Do you know how to choose a safe sunscreen for your family?
I know many of you haven’t seen the sun for months, and are more than ready for a good dose of Vitamin D. I get it. I’m a huge believer in the benefits of daily sun exposure, and it’s one of the many reasons I love where we live.
Vitamin D is an important, fat-soluble vitamin that our bodies produce after being exposed to the sun. It functions as a hormone, helps strengthen our bones and our immune system, and reduces the risk of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression and auto-immune disease.
Our bodies need Vitamin D, and many people today are Vitamin D deficient. But over exposure isn’t good for anyone either, especially skin that has been buried under layers for months.
Here’s how to protect your family this summer:
- Avoid the hottest part of the day
- Wear a hat/shirt to shield the skin if exposed longer than you are used to
- Apply sunscreen if you’re going to be in the sun for an extended period of time
Sounds easy, right? Unfortunately, many of the sunscreen products on the market today are just as harmful to your family as over exposure to the sun. Sometimes even more harmful.
When working one-on-one with my clients, I generally devote an entire session to teaching them how to read food labels. I spend a second session with their kids, teaching them how to look for ingredients that will help them thrive. And we spend a third session scrutinizing labels when we dissect the grocery store.
Did you know it is just as important to read the labels on the health and beauty products you purchase for your family?
Most health and beauty products are filled with chemicals and toxins, and sunscreen is no exception. Therefore, it is critical that you read the ingredients list carefully.
In particular, you want to avoid sunscreen that contains the following ingredients:
Vitamin A – Vitamin A is often listed on the label to fight skin aging. Studies have shown, however, that when added to sunscreen it may actually promote the progression of skin cancer.
Oxybenzone – Oxybenzone is an endocrine disruptor, which means it is a chemical that has the ability to mimic, inhibit or alter the action of the body’s natural hormones. Endocrine disruptors have been linked to early puberty in children and hormonal cancers in adults.
What do I look for when choosing a sunscreen for my family?
Mineral based – The safest and most effective sunscreens available are those that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These minerals protect against both UVA and UVB rays by forming an opaque film that reflects or scatters UV light before it can penetrate the skin. I prefer zinc oxide because it has been shown to be superior to titanium dioxide in absorbing UVA rays.
Free of nano particles – Companies will often add nano particles to make the sunscreen more transparent, but these particles actually penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream.
Lotion based – Spray on sunscreens and powder based sunscreens can be very harmful if inhaled, especially by children.
Fragrance free – Fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system.You can read more about the dangers of fragrance here.
The Environmental Working Group recently published it’s 2014 Guide to Sunscreens. It is an excellent resource and I highly recommend that you check it out before you shop for sunscreen. I particularly love the information provided in the EWG Sun Safety Campaign, and the list of 149 Beach and Sport Sunscreens that meet the EWG’s criteria. Finally, you can search their database to see how your sunscreen rates.
My personal favorites are:
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