Toxin-Free Sun Care
What You Don’t Know About Your Sunblock Could Hurt You
Now that summer’s officially here, it’s a perfect time to get outdoors and soak up the sun. Recent studies show that 20 minutes of sun exposure per day is ideal for optimum health—it’s like taking a daily dose of vitamin D. However, during the past few decades, incidents of skin cancer have steadily been on the rise. Some experts blame this on damaging ultraviolet rays, which have intensified over the past several years due to global warming. In addition, popular pharmaceutical drugs like antibiotics, antidepressants, diuretics and retinoids are known to cause increased sun sensitivity. As such, it’s critical to apply UV protection before heading outdoors.
Though most sunblocks are designed to protect skin, unfortunately, traditional brands like Banana Boat and Bain de Soleil contain dangerous ingredients that have been linked to skin cancer and other degenerative diseases. Both products are made with chemicals like oxybenzone and parabens. Oxybenzone is a derivative of benzophenone, which absorbs ultraviolet rays. However, when exposed to sunlight and penetrated into the skin, Oxybenzone has been found to cause malignant melanoma, which according to recent studies, is responsible for nearly 75% of all skin cancer related deaths.
Parabens are chemical preservatives used in most shampoos, shaving gels and lotions, including sunscreen. Traditionally, parabens are used for their bacteriocidal and fungicidal properties, which can be helpful in maintaining the consistency of a product. Unfortunately, most sunblocks only work when rubbed repeatedly onto skin--the largest and most absorbent organ on the human body. When parabens are absorbed into the skin or washed down the drain into what eventually becomes our drinking water, they are known to disrupt the function of the human endocrine system, which includes organs like the hypothalamus, ovaries, and thyroid, among others. In addition, some studies show that parabens can actually mimic the hormone estrogen, which has been linked to the development of breast cancer.
Given the health and environmental risks, it’s best to avoid any cosmetics, including sunblocks, containing oxybenzone, parabens or other harsh chemicals. So how can you protect your skin this summer without covering up or staying indoors? Simply--by being a conscious consumer and making a healthier choice. Though making the switch might seem overwhelming at first, the good news is, there are dozens of suncare brands on the market that will protect your skin without harmful chemicals. The next time you purchase sunscreen, look for products like Juice Beauty and Dr. Hauschka that are certified organic and made with natural sun protectants like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Since these ingredients remain on the skin’s surface, they reflect the sun’s powerful rays naturally without harsh chemicals. You can find these and other brands at healthy food stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joes and even some drugstores. Happy tanning!