It’s hot out there, and the sun is blazin’ and stronger than ever. Before you head out to the beach or the pool for the fourth of July festivities, make sure you’ve stocked up on safe and green sunscreen!
You might be surprised to find out that anything you put on your skin can be absorbed into your body.
Chemicals and hormone-disrupting substances in lotions and sprays will be able to get into your blood and throw your immune and endocrine (hormone) systems off track.
Not only is this a bit disconcerting (especially when you think about slathering this stuff on your kids), but it can also cause serious health issues down the road. As I mentioned in my post about Autoimmunity and Food Allergens, we all have a certain threshold for environmental toxins that build up in our bodies before disease starts to manifest itself.
One way to lighten that toxic load, is to be conscious not only about what you put IN your body, but also what you put ON your body.
So what’s my advice? Wear a shirt + a hat when you’re out and about in direct sunlight. This is, hands down, THE best way to avoid absorbing unnecessary chemicals into your skin….no fun you say? If you must be out catching rays, do so early in the day or in the late afternoon to avoid the most aggressive UVA and UVB rays that are out to burn you and contribute to the wrinkling and aging of your skin.
Here’s my 2 cents on what to look for and what to avoid in a sunscreen this summer:
What to LOOK FOR
- Sunscreens with the main ingredients of zinc or titanium minerals to filter UVA rays, but beware the kind that contain nanoscale particles of those minerals (see below).
- “Broad Spectrum” to ensure it protects against both UVA and UVB rays UVA rays make you age and wrinkle, and UVBs make you burn!
- SPF is also important, but the higher the number doesn’t necessarily mean better protection. Go for anything between 15 and 50
What to AVOID
Any product that contains one or any of the following as they can be absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream:
- Parabens, Phthalates, PEG’s (polyethylene glycols), Propylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium laureth sulfate, or sodium lauryl ether sulfate, Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate) and a whole bunch of other chemicals I won’t bother listing but basically, they should contain a considerable amount of natural ingredients.
- The main chemical to avoid is the synthetic chemical oxybenzone. Oxybenzone is an endocrine disruptor which can affect the nervous system, has been linked to cancer in some laboratory studies, and creates free-radicals when exposed to the sun which are harmful.
- Any sunscreen containing nano particles of titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, as they may have the ability to pass through the skin more easily (which is why they aren’t as white as others). Stick with micronized zinc or titanium.
Here are couple of good options:
By now you might be considering to stay out of the sun altogether, but the fact is we all need some sunlight! Too little sun can reduce the body’s vitamin D levels (low Vitamin D levels have become common in the age of SPF) which contributes to a whole host of health issues, so you really should make sure to get some sun….safely.
Source:  Environmental Working Group