Sunlight is a vital part of life. It boosts energy and mood, helps regulate sleep and provides a healthy dose of essential vitamin D. But too much sun exposure causes premature aging of the skin and an increased risk of skin cancer.
A disturbing fact is that over the last 3 decades, as skin cancer awareness and sunscreen usage has increased, the rate of skin cancer has also climbed.1 Why?
Are people using sunscreen as an excuse to spend more time in the sun? Or could it be that the toxic ingredients found in most sunscreens may actually contribute to cancer? Further research is needed but I believe it is a combination of factors.
Bottom line: Choose your sunscreen wisely and protect your skin other ways as well!
My Top 5 Sun Safety Tips
Use a safer sunscreen
Choose a mineral-based sunscreen that contains zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or a combination of the two. (Some people are sensitive to titanium dioxide but do ok with zinc oxide.)
Non-mineral (chemical) sunscreens absorb into the skin, adding to your toxic load and potentially leading to endocrine (hormone) imbalance.
Make sure your mineral sunscreen is “non-nano” meaning the particles are large enough to stay on the surface of the skin. Nano (very fine particle) mineral sunscreens absorb through the skin and can accumulate in the body.
Avoid sprays. Non-mineral sprays are particularly toxic. Mineral sprays are also unsafe, causing lung damage if inhaled.
- Kiss my face with Hydresia (SPF 40)
- Badger SPF 30 Cream + SPF 35 Face Stick – this one is great for the kids! It leaves a white residue but receives one of the top EWG ratings.
- Mychelle brand sunscreens are more of a splurge and can be reserved for the face as they don’t leave a white residue.
Even a high quality non-nano mineral-based sunscreen is not perfect, as rated by EWG’s Skin Deep database. I recommend that you wear sunscreen during peak hours and if you are in the sun for a prolonged period of time, but find other ways to protect yourself as well…
2) Avoid peak hours
Cool off indoors when the sun’s UV rays are most dangerous (10am – 2pm). This time of day was traditionally spent out of the sun, which may be part of the reason skin cancer wasn’t as common. As much as possible, plan your outdoor adventures around these hours. Come in for a long lunch or at least seek shade outdoors.
3) Wear a wide-brimmed hat
Don’t forget hats for the little ones!
4) Wear sun protective clothing
Light cotton clothes can protect the body from most UV rays. For full sun protection wear clothing with a built-in SPF. This is great way to protect the kids on beach vacations or if they spend a lot of time at the pool.
5) Eat an antioxidant-rich diet
Add even more color to your plate during the warmer months! Antioxidant-rich foods protect your skin from the inside out by sweeping up free radicals activated by UV rays.
- Sprinkle a big handful of wild blueberries and pecans on top of your green salads.
- Sip some iced green tea flavored with a splash of 100% cranberry juice and a spoonful of raw honey.
How do you protect yourself and your family from the sun? Do you have a favorite mineral-based sunscreen? I’d love to know!
1) Skin Cancer Foundation. Skin Cancer Facts. October 9, 2013.