A few things to consider about sunscreen and sun exposure as we move into summer.
Being an active hiker, kayaker and runner living on the Big Island of Hawaii, I had constant sun exposure. Because I ate all organic, to be safe, I assumed sunscreen was similar and I regularly used Alba Botanica Organic Lavender 30. After my preemie daughter was born I decided to do some research to make sure it was ok to use on her. I ended up on EWG’s Skindeep website. Needless to say, I was horrified at what I found out about the ingredients and how unsafe they were. This led to months of research on UVA and UVB rays, sunscreen ingredients, the role of Vitamin D, and eventually making my own sunscreen.
Here are the highlights of what I discovered:
- MINERAL BASED SUNSCREENS. UVA rays cause aging and skin cancer. UVB rays cause sunburn. There are only 2 mineral ingredients that will protect you from both types of rays. They are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Of these 2, zinc oxide is preferred since it offers almost equal protection against both UVA and UVB rays (depending on particle size). Titanium Dioxide protects well against UVB rays (burn) but will not give you nearly the protection from UVA rays that zinc oxide will.
- NON-MINERAL BASED SUNSCREENS. All other non-mineral active ingredients in sunscreen are toxic to the body and may actually cause cancer from both the toxicity to the body as well as lack of UVA protection. Let me repeat that. All other non-mineral active ingredients in sunscreen are toxic and may cause cancer. WHAT???? Visit this website to get the gory details on individual brands and ingredients as well as find safer options.
- VITAMIN D. Adequate levels of Vitamin D in the body is not only essential for proper immune function but it actually provides natural protection against skin cancer. When we are in the sun and have adequate Vitamin D levels, we produce melanin (the dark pigment we get from the sun) to shield our skin from UV exposure. Studies have shown that over 80% of the population is deficient in Vitamin D. While it is possible to get adequate Vitamin D in summer months (depending where you live), it is nearly impossible during the winter months thus Vitamin D supplement is necessary and critical.
MY CONCLUSION: Get your vitamin D levels tested and then supplement as needed. In situations of prolonged sun exposure, use zinc based sunscreens and/or hats and clothing to shield from the sun. Skin cancer rates are rising every year despite higher use of sunscreens.