Green Your Sunscreen: Tips For Safer Sunning

girls on beach

Now’s the time to replenish our sunscreen supplies for those upcoming beach junkets, mountain hikes, and lazy days by the pool. Each summer, doctors and public service announcements remind us about the importance of slathering on the sunscreen before heading outdoors.

The biggest benefits of course are that sunscreen helps absorb and/or reflect harmful UVA and UVB rays, which can cause premature aging and skin cancer.

This year let’s green up your medicine cabinet, which means the beach bag will be including healthier sun products. The chemicals used to make sunscreen may not always be great for our bodies.

While sunscreen is an absolute must, there are things you can do to choose one that is better for you and the environment.

If You Can’t Pronounce It, Do You Really Want It on Your Skin?
The advent of more advanced sun protection offered hope for improved skin care, until research revealed the dangers of certain ingredients in these common products. Parabens, found in many sunscreens and sunblocks, were outed as estrogen mimics and endocrine disruptors. Commonly used sunscreen ingredients like benzophenone (oxybenzone), octinoxate, cinnamates, and homosalate were found guilty of increasing the risk of cancer!

Avoiding Store-Bought Sunblock

Some folks choose to forgo the chemical sunblock industry all together. They use natural ingredients found at health food stores to create their own sunblock lotion, or they wear sun-protective clothing and limit their time in the sun.

To make your own sunscreen without worries about the possible effects of nanotech elements found in store-bought products: Purchase plain zinc oxide ointment at a drugstore and mix it into your favorite skin lotion to make your own sunscreen.

Go mineral:
Sunscreens containing zinc dioxide or titanium dioxide are great alternatives to those with chemicals such as oxybenzone. Zinc and titanium are minerals that provide broad-spectrum coverage, reflecting both UVA and UVB rays. An added benefit is that many zinc and titanium sunscreens these days are micronized to avoid the white, painted-on look. Carefully read the list of active ingredients before purchasing as some sunscreens contain zinc and titanium in combination with other chemicals.

Pick healthier ingredients:

Not all sunscreens claiming to be natural are equal. Many cosmetics and sunscreens, even those with natural and organic labels, contain preservatives to insure products remain as fresh as possible. When shopping for a sunscreen, consider avoiding ones with harsher chemical preservatives such as parabens (including butylparaben and methylparaben), which have had mixed health reviews. Instead, look for sun products without preservatives or those with milder preservatives such as potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate.

May we suggest one of our favorite brands is Raw Elements. It’s 100% All Natural and Certified Organic Inactive Ingredients. Take a look at the website. We’re sure you’ll be impressed.

Also, steer clear of sunscreens with petroleum-based ingredients such as mineral oil. Look for natural emollients such as olive, sunflower and jojoba oils, and shea and cocoa butter, to name a few.

Quick guide to sun protection that respects both the body and the earth:

•    First, use common sense. Try to stay out of the sun during peak sun hours, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when sunburn and sun damage is most likely to occur.

•    If you have to be out in the sun during peak hours, try to find a shaded area, an umbrella, or wear a wide-brimmed hat. If you have the budget, check out sun-protective clothing. Make sure to research protective clothing vendors, as some of them use chemical additives to confer sun-protective abilities into the clothing.

•    When you use sunblock, try to choose one that isn’t going to make you worry about carcinogens or environmental toxins. Make your own sunblock with zinc oxide and lotion or check the labels on sunscreens to see that that they don’t contain too many chemicals. Remember, if you can’t pronounce it, you probably don’t want it on your skin! Do your own research to find out what feels best for you and your family.

•    Try to eat plenty of dark green, red, and yellow fruits and vegetables, to keep your skin healthy and less prone to skin damage.

•    If you do end up with a sunburn, consider natural, eco-friendly remedies for sunburn relief. Aloe vera gel is very soothing and effective. It can either be purchased from a natural foods store or taken directly from an aloe vera plant. A soothing oatmeal bath can also be helpful.

•    Finally, remember that every choice you make has some kind of an environmental impact. It’s a good idea to treat the planet kindly by living lightly—you will also reap the benefits!

Like most things, think moderation! A little bit of sun can be a good thing. Don’t overdo it!

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