Being a redhead, sunscreen has always been a part of my summer routine (along with a hat, shirt, and some shade). Now more than ever we are concerned with protecting ourselves and our kids from the damaging effects of the sun, but is the chemical concoction that is sunscreen better than being sun safe?? How do you know that the sunscreen you choose is actually going to do what it says and isn’t just giving you a false sense of security?? It’s time to educate yourself!!!
About 5 years ago, when I started to educate myself on the harmful effects certain chemicals have on your body, I looked to the EWG’s skin deep data base to find out just how good or bad our skin care products really were. Now the EWG looks at almost all of the sources of harmful chemicals in our lives, and they even publish an annual sunscreen guide. They look at and rate sunscreens based on UVB protection, UVA protection, UVA/UVB balance, sunscreen stability & other health concerns. Finally!! An effective way to evaluate your options and make an informed decision about sunscreen that has nothing to do with pretty labels. You can even type the name of your favorite sunscreen into their website or phone app and see how it rates. If you are like me, you look at the rating for what you used to use and then start scanning the alphabetical listing for a better option, lol. I have even been known to use the app while standing in front of the sunscreen display trying to decide what to buy. Not only does the EWG have a database of products, they also have a ton of information (that is based on actual research) so that you can begin to educate yourself and your friends and family.
So what do you need to do to protect your family from the damaging effects of the Sun??
-Wear a hat & clothing to shield yourself from the sun
-Relax in the shade, make shade if you need (try using an umbrella)
-Avoid spending too much time out in the sun when UV is high (afternoon), plan your activities for morning, later afternoon or evening instead
-Don’t use sunscreen as a tool to prolong your time in the sun
-Buy a better sunscreen ... choose something that has broad spectrum protection; water-resistant; 30SPF...avoid anything that says over 50SPF (most cases it’s a false SPF)...avoid chemicals like oxybenzone& vitamin A (aka retinol or retinyl palmitate)
In my research for this blog, one of the articles I read was the EWG’s 9 Surprising Facts about Sunscreen. Some very interesting and surprising information can be found in this article. Here are their 9 surprising facts (to learn more click here and read the full article) ...
1. FDA’s sunscreen rules have changed but products haven’t improved.
2. There’s no proof that sunscreens prevent most skin cancer.
3. Don’t be fooled by high SPF
4. The common sunscreen additive vitamin A may speed development of skin cancer.
5. European consumers can get better sunscreens.
6. Sunscreen does not protect skin from all types of sun damage.
7. Some sunscreen ingredients disrupt hormones and cause skin allergies.
8. Mineral sunscreens contain nano-particles.
9. If you avoid sun, check your vitamin D levels as vitamin D can actually reduce your risk of several types of cancer (among other things).
What do we as a family predominantly of gingers do? As a general rule we don’t use sunscreen on a daily basis (other than on Oliver’s neck/ face/ears, when he is at school as there is no shade on the school yard, but that sunscreen has a rating of 1 by the EWG), instead we wear hats, shirts with sleeves, and we limit the time spent out in the direct sun ... we avoid spending too much time outside when UV is the highest... we wear sun shirts at the beach or pool along with hats... and when we just can’t avoid it, we use a good sunscreen that has a low or low-moderate hazard risk... the sunscreens we prefer are from Badger and Kynesis (see the top photo).
When it comes to spending time outside, protect yourself and your family. Don’t fall into the trap of spending more time out in the sun just because you have sunscreen on. You may prevent a sunburn by using sunscreen properly, but in the end you will have accumulated higher exposure to UV rays which cause their own damage. Be sun smart!
Thanks to the EWG for providing all the research I needed for this blog and then some!