It's that time of the year — the sun is coming out, and families are spending more time at the pool, the beach, and just outside in general.
Along with more time in the lovely outdoors comes exposure to the sun and the risk of overexposure, plus other risks I just wasn't aware of — until now.
When I was young, I was a real sun bather. I would tan and tan and tan — but no more for me.
After all of my youthful “extreme sunbathing”, I had numerous years where I was really doing everything I could to just stay out of the sun completely.
There is more and more evidence of the sun actually being good for you, so I will allow myself to get a little bit of sun (emphasis on “little”), and don't use sunscreen all the time. But I don't want to burn if I am going to be outside for a long time, so sunscreen is something we all should have in our homes.
Following are some things to keep in mind as you spend more time in the summer sun.
SUNSCREEN SAFETY TIPS
1. Skip the Spray
While spraying your sunscreen on might seem like a fun way to your kids to put sun protection on, it might not be the best thing to do for your health — or theirs. Titanium dioxide or zinc oxide are typical non toxic ingredients used in sunscreens, and these are considered to be safe when applied to skin, but the inhalation of these ingredients is considered to be a health hazard.
2. Lower SPF is Better
SPF protects you from UVB rays – the ones that will cause you to burn.
But the UVA rays are the ones that cause skin cancer and a higher SPF will not give you extra protection from those rays. You'll be likely tempted to use a high SPF sunscreen, thinking that you can only apply it once and have all the protection you need. Instead, choose a lower SPF with broad spectrum coverage.
3. Skip the Retinyl Palmitate
Retinyl Palmitate (derived from Vitamin A) is often added to sunscreens to reduce the appearance of aging. However, it offers no sun protection so it's not really a necessary ingredient at all. There is some research suggesting a connection between retinyl palmitate and skin cancer in lab tests on mice.
4. Use When Cloudy
Clouds only block 20% of the sun's rays, so if you are going to be out in the summer, you'll need protection even if it's cloudy.
5. Repeat Repeat
The best protection, if you are going to be out in the sun for a long time, is to reapply. Some say sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours.
SAFE SUNSCREEN OPTIONS
I've tried a few sunscreens over the years, and even did a DIY version a few years back, but have also tried a few safe / non-toxic versions and wanted to let you know what they are and what I think about them, so you can make an informed choice for a safe sunscreen this summer.
This performed well, as in we didn't burn, but it was a little too thick.
I will have to dig up my recipe at some point and share it, but in the meantime, if you are interested in making your own sunscreen, you can get a recipe or two in this book — My Buttered Life, from MadeOn that contains great recipes including DIY sunscreen. I plan to tweak mine and get it to be a little thinner so I don't fshoweel so “pastey” with it on.
If you are going to try your hand at making your own, you will need quality zinc oxide. Yes, you will have plenty on hand for the future :).)
Safe Sunscreen Options
UPDATE 3/16: – This post had recommended Ava Anderson in the past. I left the company due to multiple labeling issues, amongst other things.
Here are some safer sunscreens that I personally have tried:
Their products are super “clean” and basically you can eat almost anything in their product line since it's food grade organic.
This post on fermented foods and this one on probiotics will give you an idea why. Their products are super safe and this sunscreen rates a low “1” on EWG's Skin Deep (where I turn for a lot of my information on the safety of beauty and personal care products).
You can find it here in my Miessence Store.
I like Beautycounter's Stick Sunscreen and Lip Sunscreen.
Their lotion performs really well too and has a “just right” texture for easy, even coverage. It's also “1” on EWG's SkinDeep which is the safest rating.
I used this one in the past and like it fine — it was the first supposedly non-toxic brand I tried and we liked it just fine.
It has a low rating on EWG's SkinDeep but please take note of the mixed reviews on Amazon.
Seems like there have been quite a few issues with the texture of the lotion recently, including it being solid mixed with very liquid-ey parts.