Summer is here and that means more outdoor concerts (someone say Warped Tour?), more organic outdoor dinners, more outdoor sports (Just 30 minutes of aerobic activity 3-5 times a week can lower your risk of breast cancer by 30 to 50 percent). Really, summer is about having more time outdoors for just about everything. This means more sun and while a little vitamin D is a good thing, and even a healthy thing – too much sun will leave you looking either like a lobster or that nasty ‘tan mom’.
So what’s a healthy person to do when there’s an entire summer of sun to be enjoyed? If your first answer is to slather on sunscreen to protect your skin, think again. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), Melanoma rates are increasing and leading scientists believe sunscreen cannot reverse this trend – but all is not lost. If used correctly a good sunscreen can prevent sunburns and keep you looking and feeling your best through the sun-soaked summer months. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put a new set of sunscreen rules into effect with the hope of curbing false claims and adding some guidelines for what manufacturers are and are not allowed to say.
Let’s take a look at some of those.
THE NEW FDA RULES
The FDA’s new rules allow most sunscreens to claim they offer “broad spectrum” skin protection and also that they can reduce skin cancer risk.
- What to do: Look for sunscreens offering broad UVA and UVB spectrum protection.
The FDA has proposed prohibiting the sale of sunscreens with SPF values greater than 50+, calling higher SPF values “inherently misleading”. But they stopped short of enacting a law forbidding it.
- What to do: Don’t be fooled by a high SPF number, 15 – 50 SPF is plenty.
Federal studies indicate that retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A, added to sunscreens may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to skin in the presence of sunlight.
- What to do: Avoid sunscreens, lip products and skin lotions with vitamin A, labeled “retinyl palmitate” or “retinol.”
More is NOT better
Don’t be fooled by a high SPF. Products with anything higher than SPF 50 tempt you to apply too little sunscreen and stay in the sun too long – and no, lobsters aren’t sexy. DON’T FALL FOR IT! Even if you don’t burn (which everyone does) your skin could possibly be damaged. So stick to SPFs between 15 and 50.
Vitamin A vs. Vitamin D
Eating food packed with vitamin A is healthy for you but spreading vitamin A on your skin isn’t. Tumors are more likely to develop sooner on skin that has been coated with creams that include vitamin A, while vitamin D reduces the risk of breast, colon and ovarian cancers. Vitamin D also strengthens bones and the immune system. Since sunshine produces vitamin D in the body think moderation and don’t avoid it all together!
Avoid toxic ingredients
This may sound crazy to you but some manufacturers use marketing and don’t care about your health. They use ingredients that disrupt hormones and cause skin allergies – and that’s at the least. Choose wisely when shopping for a safe sunscreen. EWG’s sunscreen database rates the safety and effectiveness of about 1,400 SPF-rated products, including about 750 sunscreens for beach and sports. Check it out!
Non Toxic Recommendations
From the over 1,400 sunscreens that EWG evaluated, we broke that down further into this list of a few of our favorite brands. From face moisturizing sunscreens to lip balm and protective makeup to broad-spectrum sunscreen here is our list of the top 12 we think you’ll love.
Say ‘No’ to
- Oxybenzone, which has shown the possibility of significant allergenic effects.
- Vitamin A, which increases the development of carcinogenic lesions.
- Fragrance which frequently contains toxic phthalates.
- Spray on sunscreens that release nanoparticles into the air and your skin.
- Anything this is higher than SPF 50+ – it’s unnecessary and misleading.
Say ‘Yes’ to
- Zinc oxide: Physically blocks UVA and UVB light.
- Avobenzone: Absorbs full spectrum of UVA rays.
- Ecamsule: Filters out UVA rays.
- An SPF that is based on your skin color, time outside, and cloud cover.
- Broad spectrum sunscreen that is water resistant.
Remember these quick tips
- Check labels.
- Learn ingredients.
- Use 15 – 50 (SPF)
- Reapply often!
- NO tanning beds. Like EVER!