With the sun in full force, and prolonged time spent outdoors, sunscreen and sunburns are top of mind. Even though you have heard the sun advice over and over, we would be remiss not to share our healthy two-cents on having fun in the sun.
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. But, like most things in life, too much can be a bad thing. In this case, too much sun can have damaging results to our delicate skin.
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. Its 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, this balance can be achieved.
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, at the same time they could 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, both of which are known causes of cancer.
You can protect your skin naturally with use of 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. You can read about other healthy products at the EWG's Sunscreen Guide. Currently, if you make a specific donation to the EWG, you can a sample pack of non-toxic sunscreens to try out. We did it and found several new favorites for us and kiddos.
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. For example, we use both Zinc and Titanium-Dioxide in our Tinted Moisturizer and Mineral Foundation, which should offer some protection. How much protection, though, we do not know as we have not had any of our products SPF tested. 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: 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 all their ingredients. Just like skincare companies, sunscreen manufacturers are not required to divulge all of their ingredients, and in some cases, certain ingredients don’t play well with one another. For example, triethanolamine is a commonly used sunscreen ingredient. When combined with a nitrate preservative, which is typically not listed on the packaging, it can become cancer causing.
- 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 clothing 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. Take advantage of the great things it offers us. Balance your time wisely in the sun. Just remember - don’t just protect yourself against the sun, protect yourself from the wrong sun protection products.