August 30, 2012

To Sunscreen or Not to Sunscreen

Shorts, check. Flip flops, check. Sunscreen, leave at home?

While we are constantly told that the sun causes cancer and sunscreen prevents it, research is proving otherwise.

When you take a step back and think, the sun has been around forever. Our ancestors worked and played outside in the sun and probably spent most of their lives outdoors. Suntan lotion didn’t even come into play until around the 1940’s.

When the sun hits your skin it produces Vitamin D3 which has many health benefits. According to, sunscreens can reduce Vitamin D production by as much as 97.5 to 99.9% greatly increasing your risk of diseases caused by Vitamin D deficiency.

The more melanin you have in your skin the more sunlight you need to get adequate amounts of Vitamin D-3. Melanin absorbs UV radiation from the sun and the pigments change color giving you a tan. For example, African American people have more melanin and are going to need a lot more sunlight than light skinned Irish people who have much less melanin.

Is there a time and place for sunscreen? Potentially.

Sunburn is not healthy for you, so if there is a risk of getting a sunburn from being outside for extended periods of time, then healthy sunscreen can be a good option. A better option is using a hat and clothing that covers your skin. When summer comes the best thing you can do is ease into the sun and build your suntan slowly and evenly until you can handle a lot of sun without the risk of sunburn.

A simple rule when it comes to sunscreen is if you wouldn’t eat it don’t put it on your skin. Whatever you put on your skin absorbs right into your cells and blood stream, potentially leading to many health problems including cancer.

Any sunscreens that contain these chemicals are ones you want to stay away from:
•    Para amino benzoic acid
•    Octyl salicyclate
•    Avobenzone
•    Oxybenzone
•    Cinoxate
•    Padimate O
•    Dioxybenzone
•    Phenylbenzimidazole
•    Homosalate
•    Sulisobenzone
•    Menthyl anthranilate
•    Trolamine salicyclate
•    Octocrylene

When searching for a non-toxic sunscreen look for ones that contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as they offer natural sun protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

Look for sunscreen that instead contains coconut oil, jojoba oil, sunflower oil, shea butter, Vitamin E and/or eucalyptus oil.

At Environmental Working Group's website you can search sunscreens and their rating. The EWG's Hall of Shame includes Coppertone Water Babies and Banana Boat Baby Tear Free Sunblock Lotion. Their best sunscreens include sunscreen by Burt's Bees, Seventh Generation and Alba.

Sunlight has many crucial health benefits that we need to take advantage of. Remember to prevent and avoid a sunburn by using cover ups when outside for extended periods of time and to keep a healthy sunscreen on hand!

Safely soak up the sun!

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