Stock up for summer, the cottage and camping; use safe sunscreen to protect your family.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when it comes to selecting a safe, ecofriendly, healthy sunscreen that will protect your skin from the sun’s damaging rays and not leave you looking like you’re eager for Halloween to get here! In your search, it’s important to note that there are two different types of sunscreen: “Physical Barrier” or mineral sunscreens, and “Chemical Barrier” sunscreens. Physical Barrier sunscreens create a reflective surface on the skin that disperses the UV light off of the skin’s surface. Chemical Barrier sunscreens contain chemicals that can absorb the UV light before it damages the skin. When you see a “Broad Spectrum” sunscreen it means that there are multiple active chemical ingredients working synergistically to absorb the UV light. This however, means that there are multiple health hazards associated with this chemical exposure.
Here are some ingredients to avoid when selecting a sunscreen:
- Retinyl Palmitate – when exposed to sunlight this ingredient may actually accelerate skin damage and tumour growth
- Oxybenzone – a hormone disrupter that has also been linked to lower birth weights
- Octinoxate (a.k.a. OCM and octyl methoxycinnamate) – another hormone disrupter and estrogen mimicker linked to changes in thyroid functioning
- Diethanolamine and Triethanolamine (DEA, TEA) – reacts with preservatives to cause nitrosamine, a known carcinogen
- Benzophenone – highly allergenic
- Homosalate – along with being a hormone disrupter this chemical can break down into more toxic products
- Parabens – estrogen mimicker along with interference of male reproductive functions
When picking a sunscreen there are two safe and effective ingredients that you need to look for: Zinc oxide and Titanium oxide. These are the “active” ingredients contained in physical barrier/mineral sunscreens. These contain nanoparticles that cannot absorb through the skin, but if inhaled they can enter the bloodstream through the lungs. Inhalation of these nanoparticles happens when you use a sunscreen that is in the form of a spray or aerosol. Nanoparticles are what result when you break down zinc oxide and titanium oxide into small particles that will not be seen on the body, giving you a sunscreen that does not appear white on the skin. At Body of Health we have spray mineral sunscreens that are nanoparticle free such as The Green Beaver Company’s Mineral Sunscreen Spray, which is not white and does not leave a sticky pasty residue on the skin.
Remember that your skin is a permeable barrier that absorbs whatever you put on it. If it is chemicals, these chemicals end up circulating through your bloodstream and eventually require detoxification/filtering by your liver and kidneys, but not before they have access to your cells causing alterations to your body’s natural chemistry.
Whenever in doubt about any of your body care products refer to EWG.org. They have a very comprehensive database where you can check out the safety of your body products for both your body and the environment.
All that said, don’t forget that you also need adequate amounts of Vitamin D to stay healthy, so before you lather on your sunscreen spend a few minutes soaking up this sunshine vitamin!
Tania Tolfo, BA, CNP