Friday, May 27, 2011

Sunscreen Breakdown

Summer is here! At least here in the South it is. It has been in the high 90s all week and let me tell you, I am over it. For serious, I am good until it hit about 85 and then I get the urge to move North. Like, Nordic North. I do not deal well with the heat but I love to get out in the sun. I have always been a tom boy type that likes to be outside messing in the dirt instead of being stuck inside doing just about anything. The sun makes me happy. Chemical that sun.

Something I feel like should be mentioned about this time of year, every year, is the topic of sunscreen. It has become increasingly necessary unfortunately and while we would all rather just head outside for the day and not think about it, we do need sunscreen. Why?  Mostly to reduce your chances of developing skin cancers, including Melanoma. It also has the added benefit of keeping your skin looking younger. Double whammy!

So, since you know you need sunscreen if you are going to be out for more than about 15 minutes a day, you want to know that your sunscreen is safe right? That it is doing the most amount of good and the least amount of harm? Of course. Watching the chemicals and nasties you are putting into your families bodies. That is a priority about everything in our house and sunscreen is no exception which of course means I have done tireless research on it because that is another thing that I get totally nerdy about. Mama loves her research.

To start, here is an interesting little factoid for you: a higher SPF, does not mean higher protection. SPF refers to the ability of a sunscreen to block ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. You would think that if SPF 30 provides good protection, SPF 80 must by bulletproof! Yeah, not so much. According to the American Academy of Dermatology "an SPF 15 product blocks about 94% of UVB rays, an SPF 30 product blocks 97% of UVB rays, and an SPF 45 product blocks about 98% of rays. After that, it just gets silly." So, anything over an SPF of 45 is not doing you a whole lot more good than an SPF 15 and seriously not much more good than SPF 30.

Then there are all the chemicals that are added to sunscreens to make them prettier or nicer smelling or add whatever to your skin. Those chemicals are usually not anything more than just that. Chemicals. Useless ones. They aren't adding any extra protection or essential benefits, they just make them cheap. Recently available data shows that a form of vitamin A, retinyl palmitate, when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight, may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions. Guess what is one of the most common additives to regular sunscreen? You guessed it, vitamin A.

In the U.S. your choices are “chemical” sunscreens or “mineral” sunscreens (zinc and titanium). Both of which have their down sides of course but the general consensus from the health field is that mineral sunscreens are safer. They are stable in sunlight and do not appear to penetrate the skin. They also offer UVA protection, which not possible with chemical versions.The lesser of three evils I suppose when your other two choices are cancer or hormone disrupting chemicals.

The good news is that every year the Environmental Working Group puts out a list of the years "safest sunscreens". If you haven't heard of it, look into it before you buy this year's bottle. Most of the options on their safest list are not that much more expensive that the not so safe brands and lets face it, your children's health is worth the extra couple of dollars, right?

What do you think? Something you worry about?

1 comment:

  1. such a pain in the ass. you have to do such heavy research on this to even find out which ones to go with (thanks for the link, btw). it's almost a choice between one bad (chemicals) and another (skin cancer). which is worse? pick your poison.

    i need to get some more california baby, that's what we used last year.


Leave Mama some comment love! I always try to pay a visit back!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Pin It button on image hover