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Sunscreen can affect your health?

By July 5, 2011August 11th, 2011Video

Even though this video is about LOVE more than sunscreen but it inspired me to research  sunscreens and discovered the wrong sunscreen could really affect your health.   There are so many choices, many that say water-proof, chemical-free, organic, long-lasting, scented or non-scented, SPF 10- 100.  (SPF stands for sun protection factor). Most sunscreens claim to prevent sunburn, skin cancer from the sun and wrinkles. Basically they say they will protect you and keep your skin looking healthy and beautiful. But what sunscreen will really work best for you?

Earlier this year the Federal Food and Drug administration finally release new sunscreen regulations, the last time it did that was in the 1870’s. The new regulations require more data on protection from both UVA and UVB ultraviolet rays.  Both types of rays may contribute to skin cancer and now the requirement is to provide data on both while previously they were only required to provide the level of protection against UVB rays.

We need more information to know the truth about sunscreens.  Fortunately there is a not for profit public health  advocacy group called the Environmental Working Group (EWG). They recently released a very well researched sunscreen list with the best and safest sunscreens as well as its “Hall of Shame”. You definitely do not want to be using one on that list.

The EWG says “the best sunscreen is a hat and a shirt” so there are no chemicals being absorbed into your skin. But, we all want to go swimming and have some fun in the sun so you can’t really get away from exposing your skin to the sun all the time. The EWP strongly recommends consumers check their top-rated list and use products that contain the minerals zinc or titanium. They are the right choice for the best UVA protection without any sunscreen chemical considered to be a “potential hormone disruptor”. None of the products on this list contain “oxybenzone or vitamin A.”

Vitamin A, a common sunscreen ingredient, may speed the development of cancer. Many skin products contain vitamin A because it is a powerful antioxidant that slows the skins aging.  The only problem is once you expose the vitamin A to the sun it spurs excess skin growth (hyperplasia), and that in sunlight it can form free radicals that damage DNA (NTP 2000).  So it is fine for your night creams but be careful when going outside.

What is really important is to avoid the sunscreen chemical oxybenzone, a synthetic estrogen that penetrates the skin and contaminates the body. Be sure to use sunscreens without the hormone disruptors oxybenzone or 4-MBC. Scientists have called for parents to avoid using oxybenzone on children due to penetration and toxicity concerns. EWG determined that mineral sunscreens have the best safety profile of today’s choices. They are stable in sunlight and do not appear to penetrate the skin. “Look for active ingredients zinc, titanium, avobenzone or Mexoryl SX. These substances protect skin from harmful UVA radiation and remain on the skin, with little if any penetrating into the body.”

One of the biggest problem is when consumers apply too little sunscreen or reapply it infrequently, this is a very common problem .  We put on the sunscreen and then forget about it.  Most of them need to reapplied every few hours to be effective because sunscreen chemicals break apart in the sun, wash off and rub off on towels and clothing.

So the best thing to do is keep yourself covered with a hat and shirt,  but when you are need to be in the sun choose a sunscreen from the top rated list and apply regularly. Don’t get anything higher than “SPF 50+”   This might  tempt you to stay in the sun too long, suppressing sunburn but not other kinds of skin damage. The FDA says these numbers are misleading. Don’t buy sunscreens with inscet repellent– if you need bug spray, buy it separately and apply it first.  Try to avoid sprays and powders  which cloud the air with tiny particles of sunscreen that may not be safe to breathe. Choose creams instead.

I personally use  Aubrey Organics  Natural Sun Unscented Sensitive Skin/Children Sunscreen SPF 30 and the Kiss My Face “Natural Sun Sticks.”

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