Thursday, August 7, 2014

Sunscreen and your health

It is vitality important to not only watch what you put in your body but also what you put on your body. Sunscreen is one of those controversial topics and I have found a wonderful informative article by Amanda Ronan to share with you. I read this article in Dr Sult's newsletter.
It is important to remember that the application of sunscreen severely limits your absorption of Vitamin little as an SPF 8 block the absorption by 90%
I say this to point out that it is imperative for most of us to take a Vitamin D3 supplement, even if we spend time in the sun.


Sunscreen and Your Health - It’s Not Just What You Put IN Your Body

I follow a lot of bloggers and social media personalities who share information about eating and living as close to all-natural as possible. One hot topic that keeps coming up across many of these sites, now that it’s summertime, is sunscreen. Is it bad for you because it’s full of chemicals? Is it good for you because it protects against skin cancer? Does the good outweigh the bad? Are there any safe, all-natural options? Can I make my own?

There’s so much information out there telling us to wear sunscreen that it seems like a no-brainer. But this mindset is exactly what the all-natural advocates are trying to get you to understand. If something is conveniently prepackaged, it’s probably not even close to natural. I had no problem switching up my diet, eating less processed foods, cooking more, and adhering to a real food diet. It made a lot of sense to me to eat things that occur in nature, are grown close to home, and are minimally processed. But with a family history of skin cancer and two (thankfully) benign spots removed, I was less able to embrace the idea of natural skin protection.

It made sense intellectually—if I only put natural, organic food in my body, why would I put chemical-laden creams and sprays on it? But sometimes habit wins out, and it wasn’t until recently that I made the switch to an all-natural sunscreen. I alternate between making my own and buying brands that have been deemed safe by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). I’ve shared both my favorite brands and my recipe below.

Here are some of the reasons I changed my mind about switching up my sunscreen:
  • The skin is the body’s largest organ. I won’t slather my liver with chemicals I can barely pronounce, so I won’t do that to my skin, either.
  • Spray sunscreen is too easy to use liberally. We spray it all over, it gets in the air, and then we inhale it. Sunscreen is made for skin, not lungs. Like I said before, I wouldn’t coat my liver in chemicals, and I don’t want to do that to my lungs either.
  • Oxybenzone is the number one chemical in commercial sunscreens and it mimics estrogen. It also doesn’t protect against UVAs, which cause the most free-radical damage (as opposed to UVB rays, which are part of Vitamin D production in humans). If the physical and emotional effects of too much estrogen are avoidable, I’m going to go with that. No need to increase risk of depression and anxiety.
One of the top reasons I decided to make the switch away from conventional sunscreen:
  • Retinyl Palmitate, also known as “Vitamin A Palmitate,” was shown in a 2009 study to actually contribute to the growth and development of skin tumors when skin was exposed to the sun. Um, I was trying to avoid that with my sunscreen, not make it happen faster!
So I jumped off the bandwagon of using products that were actually potential threats, and I jumped on the bandwagon of safer sun protection. There are a few things to remember about safe time in the sun—wear long sleeves, long pants, hats, sunglasses, and spend your outdoor time in the shade. Because nothing says summer like being fully clothed, covered from head to toe, right?
So maybe you want to be in the sun this summer. There are safer sunscreens out there. A few things to look for are sunscreens that don’t penetrate the skin, but rather sit on it as a physical barrier, like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide based mineral sunscreens. Also, look for sunscreens without fragrances since you don’t need those added chemicals for protection from free radicals.

Here are just a few sunscreens that I’ve tried that are deemed the best by the EWG:
  • Alba Botanica Very Emollient Mineral Sunscreen, Fragrance Free, SPF 30 
  • Badger Sport Sunscreen Cream, Unscented, SPF 35 
  • Nature's Gate Aqua Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50
  • Ava Anderson Non-Toxic Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
You can find 149 beach and sport sunscreens on the EWG’s website that meet their sun safety criteria.

Another option is to make sunscreen yourself. I’m a big fan of knowing what goes into what I eat, so I like that there are recipes available to make my own sunscreen. Here’s one I’ve tried, courtesy of (The amount of Zinc Oxide used provides an SPF 20 and more zinc oxide can be added to increase that if desired!)

  • 1/2 cup almond or olive oil (can infuse with herbs first if desired)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (natural SPF 4)
  • 1/4 cup beeswax
  • 2 Tablespoons Zinc Oxide (Be careful not to inhale the powder).
  1. Combine ingredients (except zinc oxide) in a glass jar.
  2. Put a couple of inches of water in a medium saucepan place over medium heat.
  3. Cover the jar loosely with lid, and place in the pan.
  4. As the ingredients in the jar start to melt, shake occasionally to incorporate. When all ingredients are completely melted, add the zinc oxide, stir in well, and pour into whatever jar or tin you will use for storage.
  5. Stir a few times as it cools to make sure zinc oxide is incorporated.
  6. Use as you would regular sunscreen. Best if used within six months.

The smell of coconut is one I’ve always associated with summer. Before learning to protect my skin and my health at the same time, that smell was synthesized in a lab, mixed with other chemicals, and shipped thousands of miles to my local pharmacy. Now, the coconut smell coming from my sunscreen is from actual coconuts. That’s something I can feel good about.

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