It was ‘goy-geous’ today in NY. And the Beatles’ tune stayed in my head all day. I mean, I couldn’t have asked for a better weather. It was sunny, 80 degrees with clear blue skies with no humidity. And lucky for us, it will be like this, for the rest of the week. I used to love days like this but unlike another song, sunshine on my shoulders doesn’t make me happy lately. No, I’m not depressed or anything like that but the effects the sun is having on Earth, and eventually our lifestyle habits, might get me to like outdoors less. Then, I might get depressed since I can’t enjoy the sun as much as I used to.
Gone are the days when we can step out into the sun without completely covered up in sunscreen, hiding behind sunglasses, and hats, even when we step out to go to the grocery store and not necessarily the beach or the pool. These days, I feel the prickly sun’s rays on my arms and I wonder, “Should I have lathered up more sunscreen? Why does the sun feel so stingy this year? May be I should have worn long sleeves. May be my sunscreen is not working.” I’m paranoid, you say? There’s not one ad in health and beauty magazines without mentioning the types of damage sun does to your skin, in addition to the news in the media, and the internet.
We are gobbling up mega tubes of sunscreens and covering up throughout the year, looking like snowmen and women because we learned that the sun is bad for us but now we are told that there are ingredients in the sunscreens that are more harmful than good for us. And what’s just as bad is that the toxins from the sunscreen are affecting the good microbes in the environment, disrupting the ecosystem, when they get washed away from our skin.
You gotta be kidding me, you say? Well, I hate to be the bearer of the bad news (it seems like that these days with my previous post about the bad guys in our beauty products.) but I do have good news. I can tell you that there are alternative ways to protect yourself from the sun without worrying about the effectiveness and the safety of the products we are using.
Sunscreens expire – Make sure to check the expiration date when you purchase new sunscreens for the season. They last up to three years so you don’t have to buy a new one every year.
Tannin Beds – UVA rays that tanning beds emit cause the deadliest skin cancer of all – Melanoma. Avoid Tanning beds at all cost. If you want the golden glow of a tan, try using sunelss tanning lotion and spray.
Sunglasses – UV radiation from the sun can cause damage to your eyelids, cornea and conjunctiva. Exposure to UV rays also can contribute to the development of certain types of cataracts. Sunglasses that block at least 99 percent of UVB rays and at least 95 percent of UVA rays should be used, according to the American national Standards Institute. Stay away from sunglasses that do no offer any UV protection. The lenses on some of them that do not offer protection might actually cause more damage than not wearing them. You can usually find good ones in reputable eye glasses stores or outdoor gear stores. And we can’t forget about babies too. It’s hard to find good sunglasses for babies that provide UV protection but it’s really important to protect their eyes at young age.
SPF confusion – One of the big kahunas of the sun block manufacturers, Neutrogena, came up with SPF 100+ sun block but, contrary to what that number might suggest, it doesn’t offer 100 percent protection. It blocks 99 percent of UVB rays while SPF 50 of any sun block offers 98 percent. SPF of 30 deflects the sun 97 percent which indicates that higher SPF doesn’t mean better protection. Higher SPF just means you can stay in the sun longer than the lower SPF if used properly but that doesn’t mean you will get more protection. The SPF number game is confusing at best, misleading the consumers, but remember, no products that you can see through will block 100 percent of the sun from your skin. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using at least a 15 SPF, reapplied every two hours, after swimming or sweating.
Safety and Effectiveness – According to Cosmeticdata.com, none of market leader Coopertone’s 40 sunscreen products met Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) criteria for safety and effectiveness, and only 1 of 90 products from Banana Boat and Neutrogena, the second- and third-largest manufacturers, are recommended by EWG. The most effective and safest ingredients are zinc and titanium oxide since they are mineral sunscreens and are considered physical blockers since they reflect and scatter UV rays. The other active ingredients are “chemical blockers” because they absorb and disperse UV rays. One active ingredient, oxybenzone, is widely used but it gets absorbed into the skin rapidly, causing stability and toxicity concerns. It also causes allergic reactions and growing concerns about hormone disruption.
Here is a list of top 10 safe and effective sunscreens recommended by the Cosmeticdata.com
SPF 30+ are recommended.
- Soleo Organics Sunscreen Organic Chemical Free Sunscreen
- Keys Soap Solar Rx Cosmetic Sunblock
- California Baby Sunblock Stick No Fragrance
- Badger Sunscreen
- Purple Prairie Botanicals Sun Stick
- Marie Veronique Organics Crème de Jour Tinted
- Devita International Solar Protective Moisturizer
- UV Natural Sunscreen
- Trukid Sunny Days Facestick Mineral Sunscreen
- Tropical Sands Sunscreen Lotion
- Blue Lizard – anything without osybenzone
- California Baby – anything with SPF 30+
- CVS – with zinc oxide
- Jason Natural Cosmetics – Sunbrellas Mineral Based Sunblock
- Kiss My Face – “Paraben Free” series
- Neutrogena – Sensitive Skin Sunblock
- Olay – Defense Daily UV Moisturizer (with zinc)
- SkinCeuticals – Physcial UV Defense
- Solar Sense – Clear Zinc for Face
- Walgreens – Zinc Oxide for Face, Nose, & Ears
There was only one clothing manufacturer, which I know of, that produced a small line of UV protection clothes about ten years ago. Now, there are numerous companies throughout the world that make stylish collection of clothes that protect you from the sun’s harmful rays. Here are some that I found on the internet. I’m sure there are more.
Sunprecautions – clothing and accessories
Radicoolcanada – clothing and accessories
Solartex - clothing and accessories
Sunsafe – clothing
Schoolsunhats – hats
Tilley - hats
babybanz – from Australia (and they know about sun down there) has some great baby shades.