Staying Safe In The Sun & On Your Skin

Spring break is just around the corner for many and summer is a few months away (thank goodness for those of us in the midwest still buried in snow!). If you’re traveling for spring break to somewhere warm, first of all, please bring some warm air back, and second, you should be prepared to protect your skin.

Sunshine is a great thing for us. It’s how our body creates Vitamin D. This is explained in this article by the Paleo Mom. Here’s an excerpt on the basics:

First, specialized skin cells are activated when we expose our skin to UVB waves (by going outside and enjoying some sunlight on bare skin). After it’s synthesized in the skin, the inactive form of vitamin D must travel to the liver, where it’s further modified, and then is activated by the kidneys.

Vitamin D is found in a few foods (like salmon, liver, and egg yolks), but is most readily available by the sunshine on our skin. For that reason, I like to get 20-30 min of unprotected sun on my skin during the warm months to get my vitamin D dose. If I spend extended periods outside, I always put on my sunscreen to protect my skin from damage & aging.

Mineral vs. Chemical Sunscreens

There are SO MANY sunscreens on the market that it could be overwhelming to pick which one is the best, safest option for your skin. For protection from the sun, you can either go with chemical sun blockers like oxybenzone and octinoxate, or you can choose a mineral sunscreen like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

I’ve long been a fan of mineral sunscreens not only because they work, but because I prefer to not expose myself to more harsh chemicals than I need to. But these chemical sun blockers came into the news spotlight again last July when Hawaii banned using sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate because these chemicals are harmful to the coral reefs. Now Florida is following suit in an effort to protect their reefs as well.

But it’s not just the safety of the coral reefs. Like many ingredients used in skin care products in the US, there has not been thorough testing on the safety of these chemical sunscreen ingredients. The FDA recently announced that mineral sunscreens were safe, but chemical sunscreens needed more research.

The FDA announced Thursday that it has proposed a rule to declare mineral sunscreen ingredients as safe, specifically zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. The agency said 12 other chemicals commonly used in sunscreens need more research to determine if they can be officially listed as safe, including oxybenzone and octinoxate.

ABC News

Choosing Your Sunscreen

Thankfully there is a great selection of mineral sunscreen on the market. But while these products eliminate the potentially harmful chemical sunscreen ingredients, you want to be sure that the remaining ingredients are also safe. Be sure to check any mineral sunscreen you’re looking at with the EWG Skin Deep database. The lower the rating the better!

It’s important to find a sunscreen that shields from:

  • UVA – which burns the skin & increases the risk of cancer
  • UVB – which ages the skin
  • Blue light – which can also contribute to premature aging (this light is everywhere, not just technology)

Find a broad spectrum and uses non-nano zinc to protect from sun damage across all 3 of the above. Mineral sunscreen blocks the damage from these using zinc oxide & titanium dioxide. The rays bounce away from the skin.

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