What works, what is safe and what is the difference between chemical and not chemical? We have sorted out the question marks and given some examples below. There is nothing better than a t-shirt and a hat and below are some surprising truths about sunscreens:
1. There is no consensus on whether sunscreens prevent skin cancer
2. There is some evidence that sunscreens might increase the deadliest form of skin cancer for some people
3. There are more high SPF products than ever before, but no proof that they are better
4. Too little sun might be harmful, reducing the body’s vitamin D levels
5. The common sunscreen ingredient vitamin A may speed the development of cancer
Mainstream or “chemical” sunscreens work by using chemicals to absorb UVB and UVA rays. Drawback: People are sometimes sensitive to the chemicals.
*Natural or “barrier” sunscreens use the active ingredients titanium dioxide or zinc oxide to form a barrier between the skin and the sun. Drawback: Natural sunscreens often look really white and thick when you put them on and take a while to absorb (not always the best look, I admit). Chemical sunscreens with synthetic active ingredients need time to be effective — up to 30 minutes. That’s because chemical sunscreens have to soak into the skin before they begin to work. Furthermore, sunscreen chemicals have been found to pass through the skin and mimic the effects of estrogen, which may disrupt the delicate balance of the body´s natural hormones.
So, are natural sun screens completely safe? The shocking truth is the fact that both chemical sunscreens (avobenzone, methoxycinnamate, padimate-o and the like) and physical sunblocks (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) have been found to generate free radicals when exposed to sunlight, which then can attack the nuclei of your skin cells and cause mutations. That´s right: they can cause skin cancer.
So, what is our advice? Use natural sunscreen, they are for sure better than the chemical ones, in our opinion. Our favorite and natural sunscreen is from The Organic Pharmacy.
To summarize; keep these “safety tips” from the Environmental Working Group in mind for the coming sunny season;
- Avoid the sunscreen chemical oxybenzone, a synthetic estrogen that penetrates the skin and contaminates the body. Look for active ingredients zinc, titanium, avobenzone or Mexoryl SX.
- Sprays and powders cloud the air with tiny particles of sunscreen that may not be safe to breathe. Choose creams instead.
- New government data show that tumors and lesions develop sooner on skin coated with vitamin A-laced creams. Vitamin A, listed as “retinyl palmitate” on the ingredient label, is in 33 percent of sunscreens. Avoid them.
- SPF 50+ does not provide longer-term protection when you’re in the sun. Stick to SPF 15-50+, reapply often and pick a product based on your own skin, time planned outside, shade and cloud cover.