If you’re not already worried about taking care of your skin, you should be – unless you’re like 12, but seriously, any older than that and you should at least…
Praise all that is good in the world – it is finally May! Come on summer, beaches, and swimsuits, and, of course, sunscreen. Nothing ruins a day of fun frolicking through the sand more than a big ol’ sunburn across your back that eventually blisters, peels, and turns into freckles that you obsessively check for years to make sure they don’t turn into melanoma. However, before you run to Walgreens and buy the first sunblock that you see, you should be aware of the fact that not all sunscreen is the same (*gasp!*). In fact, quite a few sunscreen brands contain ingredients that do more harm than good (*louder gasp!*).
How could this be? Well, there are two ways that sunscreen works to protect you from the scorching heat of the sun. They either create a mineral barrier or a chemical one. A mineral barrier is typically created by something like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which creates a physical barrier that deflects the sun. Chemical sunscreens include things like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, and a number of other chemicals that may be harmful. The scariest of these chemicals is Oxybenzone which is in about 70% of sunscreens. This chemical soaks deep into your skin, and so blood, and acts like estrogen in the body. It has been found to alter sperm production in men and has been associated with endometriosis in women. It was even found that this chemical, as well as similar ones used in chemical based sunscreens, made its way into mother’s milk meaning it will make its way into a baby.
Not only is there the risk of hormonal disruption, but some sunscreens may actually contribute to skin cancer. This is definitely a contentious topic and requires a lot of research and testing, but one of the reasons is that many sunscreens include Vitamin A in the form of retinyl palmitate which can speed up the growth of cancerous cells by 21%. This is also because while sunscreen may protect you from an immediate burn, it doesn’t block all of the UV damage that is related to melanoma.
Don’t get us wrong, we definitely want you to use sunscreen, just be smart about it. Also, don’t rely on sunscreen as your only source of protection. The best way to protect your skin is probably to stay inside all day, but that will cause a Vitamin D deficiency and probably depression, so better not do that. Instead, when you are outside, try to cover up as much as possible: hats, sunglasses, shirts, flowy kimonos, long linen dress, (you get the point). Then, when you do go to the store to get your sunscreen on the way to the beach, do some research first. Find a mineral based one, such as:
- Alba Botanica Very Emollient Sunscreen is free of parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, is water resistant and includes 100% vegetarian ingredients.
- Burt’s Bees Sunscreen Stick is made of 100% natural ingredients that have an SPF count of 30 and, unlike many sunscreen sticks, is not greasy.
- Sunology Body Mineral Sunscreen, which besides being free of any harmful ingredients, is also safe for the reefs, and other oceanic wildlife, and is highly hydrating.
Not to sound too much like a mother, but skin protection is incredibly important. We only get one body and it is important that we treat it well.
Okay, lecture over, go have fun in the sun!