Hurray—it’s a beautiful summer! Sunny days are in their glory now and hopefully you are keeping your skin well-protected from sun damage. Excess sun exposure has been linked to health risks ranging from premature aging to skin cancer.
Sun protection is important, but did you know that conventional sunscreens often contain ingredients linked to health risks? These include oxybenzone which may act as a hormone disruptor, Vitamin A which may speed the growth of skin tumors when exposed to sunlight, nano-particles whose small size may help them penetrate tissues and cause damage and synthetic fragrances which may contain phthalates linked to reproductive problems.
Although less of a problem than in the past, there are still some sunscreens that don’t protect against both UVA and UVB rays (you aren’t using an old sunscreen that was tucked under your bathroom sink a couple years ago, are you?) Another concern is sunscreens that are in spray or powder form whose small particles can cause lung damage. And although the term “organic” is tightly regulated when it comes to food products, this is not the case for items like bodycare or housecleaning products, so you can’t count on this to select your brands.
What Can I Do?
If you don’t have a Ph.D. in biochemistry, all of this can sound quite daunting! A good option for those who want someone else to do the hard work is to consult the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep database (www.cosmeticsdatabase.com) to get product or ingredient ratings. The Skin Deep database rates hundreds of sunscreens along with many other personal care products.
Or to make things even easier, find a retailer that does this work ahead of time and posts the information in their store or on their website. And whatever sunscreen you chose, remember to reapply frequently.
Then enjoy the great days of summer!
Inger Wilkerson is the owner of Spring Morning Bodycare (www.springmorningbodycare.com), where ewg ratings are listed for all products.