What If You DO Want Sunscreen?

Welcome to July! I hope you had a great holiday weekend, and didn’t splurge TOO badly!

Last post, I talked about one natural way of vamping up your body’s natural ability to protect itself from sun damage. And I hope you arr trying to incorporate more orange and red produce items into your diet because of it.

But, all that aside, if you DO decide sun screen is a protective measure you want to take, you’re in luck! There IS a way to sort through the plethora of products, the bundle of bottles, the lists of lotions, the overabundance of options! The work has already been done for you! *Whew!*

That wonderful group, the Environmental Working Group, has tamed the chaos and researched the safety of the different products.

The number one protective product out there….(drum roll, pleeeeze)… shirt and hat!

Yup, EWG says “The best sunscreen is a hat and a shirt. No chemicals to absorb through the skin, no questions about whether they work.”

Ok, ok – before you start chucking tomatoes at me (hmmmm, actually, go ahead and chuck! That’s some good natural sunscreen stuff!) here is their information:

EWG says you want a product that will protect you from both UV-A and UV-B sun rays while having as few chemical toxins as possible. Top products will contain either zinc or titanium minerals to help cut UV-A exposure, and Avobenzone or Mexoryl SX are also good ingredients to look for. These items are less likely to be absorbed by your skin into your body. You want to avoid Oxybenzone, Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate), or products that also include insect repellent. Oxybenzone works like a synthetic estrogen that is more readily absorbed by the skin and will contaminate your body! Yuck! Protect yourself from that! The Vitamin A, while wonderful if part of a whole food and ingested, really doesn’t need to be spread on your skin for sun protection. It doesn’t actually help anything, but it’s a wonderful marketing ploy. And the bug repellent would just be another slew of chemicals on your body.  Instead, get a separate bug repellent if you absolutely need it, and put it on before the sun screen.

EWG recommends creams rather than sprays or powders. Creams will last longer, meaning fewer applications and thus less toxic exposure. With sprays and powders, you may end up inhaling some chemicals, and, well, we’re trying to AVOID getting gunk in your body! As for those ultra SPFs? Again – not worth it. EWG states “Anything higher than “SPF 50+” can tempt you to stay in the sun too long, suppressing sunburn but not other kinds of skin damage. FDA says these numbers are misleading.”

So that gives you an idea of what to look for, and what guidelines EWG is using: “Our top-rated sunscreens all contain the minerals zinc or titanium. They are the right choice for people who are looking for the best UVA protection without any sunscreen chemical considered to be a potential hormone disruptor. None of the products contain oxybenzone or vitamin A and none are sprayed or powdered.” You can see their complete listing here but here are some of their top choices, in alphabetical order:

  • California Baby – Sunblock Stick, No Fragrance, SPF 30+
  • Loving Naturals – Sunscreen SPF 30+
  • Purple Prairie Botanicals – SunStuff SPF 30 and Sun Stick SPF 30
  • Soleo Organics – All Natural Sunscreen SPF 30+, Soleo Organics/Wyland Organics All Natural Sunscreen SPF 30+, and Soleo Organics/Atlantis Resort All Natural Sunscreen SPF 30+
  • Thinkbaby and Thinksport – Sunscreen SPF 30+
  • UV Natural – Baby Sunscreen SPF 30+ and Sunscreen Sport SPF 30+

They also provide a list of non-mineral options for those who want to avoid zinc or titanium or don’t like the feel or scent of standard sunscreen. The say there is a trade-off, though. “All non-mineral products contain at least one sunscreen chemical considered to be a potential hormone disruptor, and many offer only moderate or weak UVA protection.” But that same link from above (click here) also gives that listing.

There it is! Less dangerous, more natural sun protection if you want it. They may not be easy to find sometimes, but check with your area natural food stores, or you can always order online.

Here’s hoping July is a wonderful month, full of health and love!

Published by Kate Cline, RD

Registered Dietitian with a focus on Gut Health, Inflammation, and Functional Nutrition. Personal Trainer with a focus on corrective exercise. Yoga teacher, traveler, empowerment coach.

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