Since we are coming off Memorial Day weekend and a new summer season is upon us, I thought I’d address sunscreen. So many misconceptions, and I bought in to a lot of them over the years. When I was young, it wasn't uncommon for girls to slather baby oil on and lay out for hours on a block of cement. The darker the better, no matter what! The day would end with a competition of who had the most extreme tan lines. When my kids came along, I coated them with sunscreen and tried my hardest to prevent sunburns. My daughter had particularly fair skin that burned especially fast so she got extra coats! (I told her that one day she would be happy with her alabaster skin and now, at 24, I think she is getting that! She will love it even more when she is 50 and doesn’t have sun damage!) All in all, we were careful and sunscreen was a natural part of spending the day outside.
Careful as we were with our kids, my husband (who was so not careful as a kid) is paying the price for past sun transgressions. He is definitely a frequent flyer at the dermatologist, having various concerns burned off. I don't totally agree with the "cut and burn" mentality but we are looking for better alternatives. He would probably tell you it would have been easier and less painful to use sunscreen. I had a mole turn into a melanoma a few years ago. Probably not the result of too much sun, but skin cancer nonetheless. Now I have to check the box that indicates I’ve had cancer. Luckily, it was an easy MOHS procedure and that was all!
As with everything, we have learned SO MUCH MORE. For one thing, we now know that everything you put on your skin is absorbed. Why we didn’t get this earlier is unclear…the skin is our biggest organ. Of course it makes sense that it absorbs! Like everything else, the sun is great in moderation.
The sun is one of the best ways to absorb Vitamin D and most of us are deficient. According to doctors, Vitamin D is very important for boosting our immune systems, fighting cancer and improving moods. I try to spend 20 minutes or so in the sun every day (not the hottest hours, without sunscreen) but I still take a Vitamin D supplement to insure I am getting enough. Most people think they're getting enough but some are surprised when they have it checked. Some doctors will say if you are in the 40 range, that's good. More and more doctors agree that is needs to be in the 50-70 range. Worth getting that level checked!
Enter sunscreen. Gotta have it if you are spending the day on the lake or at the beach so yo don't get fried. We all know that it sneaks up on your and at the end of the day, you could be a crisp.
So what is the best one? What makes one better than the next? How do you even know? This is a topic worth researching. I used to only use Neutrogena because it seemed like a pure and clean product. According to researchers that test sunscreens, that’s one of the worst sunscreens you can use. There might be quite a few on the “Do Not Use” list that will surprise you. Here is a link to a great doctor and her thoughts on the subject and a link to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) website. I use this website all the time to check out everything from shampoos to moisturizer to makeup! The best contain zinc oxide and are plant and vitamin based. They offer protection from UVA, UVB and free radicals. Plus, they are approved to use on babies under 6 months! That’s pretty safe! Mineral blockers are free from chemicals. They are long lasting and give you immediate protection.
If you like studies, the EWG revealed in a recent one that 80% of the 1700 tested sunscreens, lip balms and moisturizers aren’t as effective as they claimed to be and are often times harmful. And be weary of sprays…they don’t give you the needed coverage for a day in the sun and they are also bad to inhale. (There has to be a reason why you choke and try not to breathe it in, right?) I'm still trying them out but I like Badger, Alba, Bullfrog and Honest. I like the way they feel (not oily and lighter than some of the others) and the protection they provide for a day out in the sun. These are on the list the EWG provides as safe and non-toxic. There are lots of good ones to choose from! Here are some great resources for more info on sunscreen and skin cancer. Sun Exposure: Cancer Cause or Part of the Solution? The Best Sunscreens and Ones to Avoid
UPDATE on my new favorite and go-to! I LOVE the Young Living sunscreen. It goes on light and creamy, doesn't leave you with a white coat on you skin and is full of essential oils to protect and heal your skin. Email me if you want info on how to get it!