How to choose a safe sunscreen
Did you know a lot of the sunscreens out there do not protect us against harmful UV rays. Many brands also contain chemicals that affect our hormones, damage our skin, and sometimes increase the risks of skin cancer. Here are some tips for you to use the next time you are buying sunscreen.
Limit your use of sunscreen by covering up when in the sun and avoiding the sun during the middle of the day (when the sun is at its hottest)
Look for sunscreens that contain Zinc Oxide. Physical sunscreens, containing either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, form a film on top of the skin that reflects or scatters UV light.
Avoid chemical sunscreens, which absorb UV rays. While chemical sunscreens can protect against damage from UV rays, they can also contain toxic chemicals which are all absorbed through the skin and end up circulating your blood stream.
Amongst a list of many there are a few ingredients to look for and avoid:
- Dioxybenzone and oxybenzone – very powerful free radical generators around as they can disrupt hormone function.
- Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) – PABA releases free radicals, damages DNA, has estrogenic activity, and causes allergic reactions in some people.
- Octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC) – kills cells in mice even at low doses
- Benzophenone – hormone disrupting chemical that interferes with thyroid function and lowers testosterone, and there are serious concerns about its impact on male fertility.
What is Nano technology? Many sunscreens contain nanoparticles of zinc oxide or titanium oxide. Older sunscreen formulas use larger particles, which is what gives most sunscreens their whitish color. Smaller particles are less visible, meaning that when you rub the sunscreen into your skin, it doesn’t give you a whitish tinge. There is a lot of debate about nano particles and what they do. The fear is that they’re so small they seep in through our skin cells, but the jury is still out on the damage they may do.
So what brands are safe?
You can check the ratings of sunscreen brands on the EWG website: www.ewg.org/2013sunscreen/
Don’t be scared of the sun… vitamin D has many benefits to your physical and mental health. Try and get sun every day (with no sunscreen on) but only for 20 – 40 minutes at a time and before 10am or after 5pm (in Australia).