The warm weather is here, which means that it is time to take advantage of the beautiful outdoors. It also means that it is time to make sure that your skin is protected from the sun. There are a multitude of sunscreen products on the market today, including lotions, ointments, sprays and moisturizers. Many of these products, however, contain potentially harmful chemicals which not only can harm your skin, but can cause additional damage as they penetrate your skin and enter your bloodstream.
Before buying sunscreen products, read the tips below from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit organization that aims to protect human health and the environment:
Avoid spray sunscreens.
Although spray sunscreens may be tempting because you can apply them quickly and easily, be aware that you or your child can easily inhale them as you’re applying them. Plus, you risk missing spots on the skin when applying the spray.
Understand the SPF.
SPF, which stands for Sun Protection Factor, measures the product’s ability to protect the skin against the sun’s UVB, or Ultraviolet B, rays. The SPF does not provide an accurate measurement of the product’s ability to protect against the sun’s UVA, or Ultraviolet A, rays. UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB rays, speed up skin aging and wrinkling, and may suppress the immune system. UVA rays also contribute to the development of skin cancer.
Many SPF products on the market today boast SPFs of 50 and higher, which may give buyers a false sense of security about how much they’re protecting themselves against the sun. These high-SPF sunscreens suppress sunburns but raise the risk of other kinds of skin damage. In fact, the FDA is considering barring SPFs above 50, according to the EWG.
Avoid sunscreen that contains oxybenzone.
This chemical is an active ingredient in many beach and sport sunscreens on the market. Oxybenzone penetrates the skin, enters the bloodstream and acts like estrogen in the body. It also can trigger allergic skin reactions.
Avoid sunscreen that contains retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A.
Although this chemical is a common ingredient in night creams to help improve the skin’s appearance, you should not apply retinyl palmitate to sun-exposed skin because the chemical may encourage the development of skin tumors and lesions, according to government studies.
Now that you know which sunscreen products to avoid, what can you do to protect your skin from the sun? Below are a few ideas on how to protect your skin naturally:
Consider using sunscreen made with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
These products provide strong sun protection with few health concerns. Also, zinc oxide provides more protection from UVA rays than any other sunscreen chemical approved in the U.S., according to the EWG.
Eat foods high in antioxidants and omega 3s.
Foods high in antioxidants and omega oils can protect against the effects of UV ray skin damage. Foods such as carrots, kale and collard greens contain high amounts of antioxidants, while soybeans, salmon and walnuts are rich in omega 3s. Omega 3 fish oil supplements also can help protect the skin from sun damage by decreasing the skin’s response to the sunburn.
You can make your own sunscreen with ingredients you can find in most grocery stores.
Use common sense and be proactive.
For example, try to avoid going outside in the middle of the day when the sun is at its brightest. Also, wear light-colored clothing because dark colors absorb more heat. Finally, consider wearing a wide-brim hat to protect your face.
– By Jessica Braun
Jessica is a writer and an editor at WholesomeONE. She can be reached at jessica.braun[at]wholesomeone[dot]com.
- Environmental Working Group: http://www.ewg.org/2015sunscreen/
- WholesomeONE: https://www.wholesomeone.com/condition/sunburn-natural-treatments
- WholesomeONE: https://www.wholesomeone.com/product-category/personal-care/organic-sunscreen
- WholesomeONE: https://www.wholesomeone.com/news-articles/do-it-yourself-sunscreen-and-bug-repellent