The sun is a powerful thing. It gives us our daily source of light, showers us with an important dose of Vitamin D, and can help lift our spirits. As summer begins we’re all looking forward to spending more time outdoors, and we know you’ve heard advice about prolonged sun exposure and skin health over and over. But we would be remiss not to share our two-cents on having healthy fun in the sun.
It’s a balancing act when it comes to the relationship between our skin and the sun. While we need our skin to soak up the rays (and all that fabulous Vitamin D), too much exposure can result in burning, free radical production, and moisture loss. The sun’s intense UV rays can cause cancer, as well as wrinkles, dark spots, and other signs of aging. However, with a bit of care and the right products, we can balance the positive effects with a healthy dose of protection.
For days spent outside, we’ve all been trained to slather on the sunscreen and reapply every few hours. This is a great defense from the sun, but applying the wrong sunscreen could have some harmful effects as well. Before you pack your bag for a trip to the beach or afternoon in the park, take time to research the sunscreen you’re using (check out the Environmental Working Group's Sunscreen report and database here).
While the ingredients in your favorite brand could be doing the trick in blocking the sun, they could also be increasing your risk of cancer. Research has shown that common sunscreen ingredients have free radical forming properties (hey, wait - isn’t sunscreen supposed to prevent free radical formation?) and estrogenic properties that can effect sexual functions. Free radicals and estrogenic chemicals have both been shown to cause cancer.
But there’s good news: you can protect your skin naturally with Zinc and Titanium-dioxide, two non-toxic ingredients with natural sun-repelling properties. These two ingredients are not known to harm the body and are also slow to absorb into the skin, so they can be trusted to linger and protect longer. There are several brands of effective, non-toxic sunscreens available that use these ingredients. Check out the EWG's Sunscreen Guide for a list of brands that make safe sunscreens..
It should also be noted that even when you’re not spending an extended period in the sun, your skin is still exposed each and every day. The time spent going to and from your car while running errands or going to work can add up. While you don’t necessarily need to shield yourself with layers of sunblock, you do want to ensure that your makeup routine offers some sort of protection. While we haven’t had our products SPF tested, we use both Zinc and Titanium-Dioxide in our Tinted Moisturizer and Mineral Foundation. If you do find a makeup that touts SPF protection, just be sure to read the label and make sure you agree with the ingredients used.
Here are other tips to protect your skin against the sun, while still maintaining your non-toxic health:
- Avoid products that use the ingredients Oxybenzone, Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A),and PABA. Others to avoid are Benzophenone-3, Parabens (butyl-, ethyl-, methyl-,and propyl-), Phthalates (often found in “fragrance”), artificial fragrance, and sunscreens that include insect-repelling properties.
- Always use products that list their full ingredients. Just like skincare companies, sunscreen manufacturers are not required to divulge all of their ingredients, and certain ingredients don’t play well with one another. For example, triethanolamine is a commonly used sunscreen ingredient. When combined with a nitrate preservative, (typically not listed on the packaging) it can become a carcinogen.
- Choose cream-based sunscreens versus sprays, as sprays create tiny particles that are easily breathed in and ingested.
- While in the sun, reapply sunscreen often. Avoid sunscreens that are rated SPF 50+,as they may trick you into staying out in the sun longer than you should.
- Wear a hat, sunglasses, and other covering in addition to sunscreen when out in the sun for prolonged periods of time.
We want you to enjoy the sun and the outdoors as often as possible to take advantage of the great things it offers us. Balance your time wisely in the sun, and remember to just protect yourself against the sun as well as from the wrong sun protection products.