If you haven't already been burned by the sun, there's a pretty good chance you've been burned by some toxic sunscreen. Yep, that's right... Just when you thought you were being safe and wise by protecting yourself from the sun, you could've been ...
If you haven't already been burned by the sun, there's a pretty good chance you've been burned by some toxic sunscreen. Yep, that's right... Just when you thought you were being safe and wise by protecting yourself from the sun, you could've been exposing yourself to nasty, cancer-causing chemicals.
This week, our friends at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) put out their annual sunscreen report
. Every year, they remind us that sunscreen contains toxic chemicals, like vitamin A, known to cause cancer, and oxybenzone, a hormone disruptor, and a skin allergen.
Another big problem with sunscreen is that the SPF gives us the notion that we're safe from the sun, when this might not be the case. Almost 90 per cent of all sunscreens are likely to pass the FDA’s new rule for broad spectrum protection, allowing them to legally claim cancer prevention. But EWG found that many labels with 15 SPF and higher didn't provide adequate protection. And claims of better protection in higher than 50 SPF were largely unfounded.
Sunscreens can also contain high levels of Vitamin A, which can actually heighten skin-cancer risk on sun exposed skin.
What can you do to protect yourself from the sun, and from harmful chemicals?
Start kidding around
Sunscreens made for babies or children are less likely to contain "fragrance", which can cause allergies and potential serious health problems (read our report here
They're also less likely to contain the hormone-disrupting chemical, Oxybenzone
Don't take the shortcut
Spray and powder sunscreens can damage your lungs and eyes. Stick to the lotions.
Keep it minimal, mineral
Zinc oxide is an effective and safe sun blocking (UVA and UVB) mineral that your skin doesn't absorb. EWG also supports Titanium Dioxide, though some low risks have been connected to it. There are dozens of brands that produce cheap, mineral only sunscreen. And, because a blog of mine would not be complete without a DIY tip, you can also make your own!
6 tbsp (84 grams) of coconut oil
2 tbsp (28 grams) almond or grapeseed oil
2 tbsp finely powdered zinc oxide (Or less if you want a less white sunscreen)
3 tsp sea butter
2 tsp beeswax pellets
Combine the ingredients, in order listed, in a thick glass jar or measuring cup. Create a bain marie situation, with a pot of shallow water, and place the vessel in the water, being careful that the water doesn't get into your ingredients. Let it simmer until the ingredients have all melted together.
Mix thoroughly with a hand blender to ensure the zinc oxide is distributed evenly throughout.
Let cool and apply. Go outside.