It's Not All Bad
Getting a healthy amount of sunshine is very good for you. It is essential for vitamin D production in your body and is useful in treating skin diseases like psoriasis and scleroderma. Sunshine is also capable of increasing energy and improving mood. Sunlight can be used to treat jaundice in infants, promote wound healing, improve immune system function and help to regulate biorhythms and body temperature. All great reasons to fit a little sunshine into your day! That’s not to say that sunscreen cannot come in handy. Too much sun can obviously be a serious concern. But so can some of the ingredients often found in sunscreen.
Why Does It Matter?
Your skin is extremely absorbent. Anything you put on your body (lotion, soap, make-up) can be absorbed into your body through your skin cells. And your skin doesn't discriminate between good and bad - healthy minerals sink in, toxins and chemicals sink in. Of course, we’d all love to keep chemicals and toxins out of our bodies. That makes choosing a quality sunscreen an important health decision.
1) Oxybenzone Oxybenzone is an endocrine-disrupting chemical that can cause hormone disruption and cell damage. Researchers have specifically advised against using this chemical on children (some of the number one users of sunscreen!). This chemical is found in 97% of Americans and current research says that it may cause cancer.
2) Octocrylene The most widely used sunscreen ingredient. The cons: estrogenic effects, and disruption of thyroid hormone and brain signaling. What’s more, in lab trials it has been found to kill mouse cells when exposed to sunlight.
3) Padimate O (Octyl Dimethyl PABA / PABA Ester) This chemical releases free radicals, damages DNA, and shows estrogenic activity. Serious charges that make it worth avoiding.
4) Vitamin A (Retinyl Palmitate) It's a vitamin - doesn't that mean it's good for you? Not always the case. An FDA study found that when the form of vitamin A used in sunscreens (retinyl palmitate) is exposed to sunlight, it can actually speed up the development of skin tumors. So just keep it out of the sun (and therein lies the problem!)
So What’s Left?
The only ingredient that really needs to be present is zinc oxide or titanium oxide. Finely ground powder, these minerals block the absorption of nearly of the harmful UV rays from the sun. This power will always be mixed in some kind of lotion base. Looking for a natural or organic version of your favorite brand, combined with reading the ingredients list, will help you find a reliable option that’s safe for you and your family.