When it comes to sunscreen, it’s complicated.
Dermatologists will tell you to wear it all year long to reduce the risk of Melanoma but other studies have noted that a lack of vitamin D can increase your risk of multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, and pathological processes that underlie several forms of cancer, including those of the colon, breast, prostate, and digestive tract, such as stomach cancer.
Then there is the concern of harmful chemicals found in many over-the-counter sunscreens. Many of the chemicals have been linked to reproductive issue, skin issues & allergies, and photostability – the process where the sun changes the chemical structure of the ingredient leading it to become unstable and toxic like Avobenzone.
Furthermore, there are environmental issues including pollution and damage to coral reefs when these chemicals (Oxybenzone) are washed off when swimming (NOAA 2015).
Geez, so what’s a beach loving babe to do? I’ve got you covered.
Speaking of being covered, this is one of the best ways to prevent sunburn and skin damage from too much sun. Hats, sunglasses, and cover-ups are key. Spend time outdoors in off-peak hours, usually before noon and after 4 pm.
When shopping for sunscreen, I want you to do the following:
- Avoid these harmful ingredients:
Oxybenzone – Possible human photoallergic toxicant or allergen and a know human endocrine disruptor.
Retinyl palmitate (a form of vitamin A) – may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight (NTP 2012). You can also find this ingredient in many anti-aging skin care products.
Avobenzone – Linked to immunotoxicity and allergies.
Homosalate – estrogen disruptor.
Octocrylene & Octisalate – skin allergies, studies have shown skin penetration.
Ethylhexyl Triazine – linked to allergies, concerns with wildlife toxicity.
Padimate O – linked to cardiovascular disease, concerns with wildlife toxicity.
Cinoxate – linked to skin irritations and cancer.
Phenoxyethanol – a preservative that has been shown by the NIH (National Institute of Health) to be a neurotoxin, a reproductive toxin, ovarian toxin, that can cause skin allergies and contact dermatitis.
I have highlighted some of the worst offenders above, but we can’t forget about parabens, phthalates, PEG’s (polyethylene glycols), propylene glycol, phenoxyethanol and sodium laurel sulfates. I have an extensive graph here that will teach you so much more about toxins in beauty products and how to avoid them.
2. Opt for Cream 100% of the time
Spray and powders are not the best options, mineral-based sunscreens have been known to contain nanoparticles. Studies have shown that nanoparticles found in titanium dioxide and zinc oxide can enter the bloodstream through the lungs when inhaled, so be cautious if you are using a spray or powder. It’s important to note that titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are safer alternatives but only when used in a cream form.
3. SPF 30 Protection is best
A broad spectrum sunscreen will provide adequate UVA coverage, but a higher SPF doesn’t mean more effective UVB protections and according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher do an excellent job protecting against UVB when applied properly. However, the EWG found that sunscreen with higher than 30 SPF is actually not protecting you more from the sun.
Ultraviolet wavelengths are classified as UVA, UVB, and UVC. Even though exposure to both UVA and UVB contributes to the development of melanoma — the most deadly skin cancer — SPF measures only UVB. Broad spectrum sunscreens protect against both.
I also want you to read more about sunscreen here.
And take a look at Health Canada’s sunscreen rules.
Popular Sunscreens to avoid:
These sunscreens claim to either be green or natural when in fact they are not.
Aveeno, for example, has some pretty appealing marketing claims: “Active Naturals”, “EnviroGuard”, but these are pure greenwashing, this sunscreen is loaded with estrogenic and endocrine-disrupting oxybenzone, bio-accumulative octocrylene, and mildly endocrine-disrupting homosalate.
Alba contains octinoxate, known to bleach (and kill) coral reefs as well as homosalate and octocrylene. Their “mineral protection” line is better though.
Check out these other worst offenders.
MY TOP PICKS FOR NATURAL, SAFE SUNSCREEN:
Devita Moisture Tints
If you need a little coverage but don’t want to wear foundation then the moisture tints Beauty Balm is great, it’s a lightweight tinted balm with SPF15. I like it because it gives light coverage. I have a pretty fair complexion and I did not find that it turns orange on my skin. It’s small enough to keep in my purse.
Is my fav for kids. It’s silky and light and fantastic for all skin types. This is the perfect texture for a summer moisturizer. It’s light and sinks in and seems to let your skin breathe right through it.
I have found this sunscreen works well under foundation. Gives skin a moist and healthy feel. I use it either as a light day moisturizer under makeup or on casual says. Covers a little but not heavy and is great for sensitive skin.
Has a new product, it’s called Reflector, it’s SPF30, I have been wearing it for a week now and I absolutely LOVE it. Well done Jessica. Non-whitening, light formula that won’t clog pores or irritate the skin. Broad spectrum protection from UVA/UVB rays. Contains natural ingredients with skin-healthy antioxidants and fatty acids. Reef/water safe. Bouns!
Also, for my readers, Cocoon Apothecary is offering 20% off, use the code ‘ecohub’.
How to apply sunscreen properly:
If you are using a moisturizer apply that first, then apply your sunscreen. Don’t skimp on your body, as a rule of thumb, each section of your body (one arm for example) should be covered in at least two fingers worth of sunscreen.
If you are using a sunscreen with synthetic, you will need to wait 30 minutes before going into the sun. If you are using a natural mineral sunscreen, there is no need to wait as it acts as a reflective barrier.
On average, an SPF of 15 will give you about 2.5 hours of protection and an SPF of 30 around 5 hours of protection.
Remember to reapply after getting wet and most importantly sunscreen does not prevent skin cancer so make sure you are taking steps to keep your skin safe like earing sun protecting clothes.