With summer here, we’re all building our tans – and likely picking up a few fun sunburns, too. While we all need sun in our lives, especially for vitamin D, it’s altogether far too easy to get too much sun.
Toward that end, we want to help you look at your sunscreen options, so you know how best to protect yourself.
A few things to keep in mind before we look at your sunscreen options:
- Clothing is always your best choice when it comes to sun protection.
- Accepting that it’s sometimes too warm for comfortable clothing protection, however, keep in mind that sunscreen blocks vitamin D, so make sure you get some sun daily, if at all possible, before sunscreen application.
- Keep in mind that many sunscreens are full of toxic chemicals, so be particularly careful which sunscreens you choose to use.
Toward that third point, let’s look at some of those chemicals. As many as NINE commonly used (and FDA approved) ingredients in sunscreen are known endocrine disruptors, so caution is warranted.
Chemicals and other sunscreen ingredients to be cautious of include:
- Menthyl anthranilate
- Octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC)
- Octyl salicylate
- Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)
- Retinol and retinyl palmitate
- Nanoparticles, especially titanium dioxide or zinc oxide
There’s also the point that many sunscreens simply don’t do what they say they will, and don’t actually protect you from UV rays very well – as a recent survey of 1500 products found 73 percent of those products were ineffective.
Similarly, a JAMA Dermatology study published last year found nearly half of the top-rated sunscreen products tested failed to meet the standards set by the American Academy of Dermatology, and an analysis by Consumer Reports earlier this year found many sunscreens tested failed to meet SPF standards; 40 percent worked at less than half the SPF indicated on the label.
As a result, we recommend you consider one of the following sunscreens:
- Mineral-only sunscreens
- Sunscreens for which zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are the active ingredients (they tend to be most stable)
- Sunscreens that do not contain nanoparticles
As a result, we recommend the following, from EWG’s most highly recommend sunscreens:
- Dr. Mercola SPF 50 Sunscreen
- True Natural Neutral Unscented Sunscreen SPF 50
- Loving Naturals Adorable Baby Sunscreen stick SPF 30+
- Blue Lizard Australian Sensitive Sunscreen SPF 30
- Burnout Ocean Tested Physical Sunscreen SPF 30
In comparison, fourteen of the worst-scoring sunscreens for kids included several popular brands, including two Banana Boat products, seven Coppertone products, a CVS branded sunscreen and two Neutrogena products. Yikes!
Lastly, make sure you’re using your sunscreen use is appropriate. Use an SPF between 30 and 50; additional protections above SPF 50 are negligible.
Keep in mind, too, that SPF only measures protection against UVB rays; UVA rays, meanwhile, are best protected against by either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, so the best sunscreens will have both a good SPF measurement and contain either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as an active ingredient, so you’re protected against both kinds of rays.
Many thanks to Dr Mercola for some of the tips!
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