Sunscreens are meant to protect us from the harmful UV radiation of the sun, which can cause cancer among other skin diseases but are our sunscreens themselves harmful to us?
Sunscreens have been around since quite a while now and we all use them for sun protection. They’re common in our homes and for everyday use but are these sun protectors even safe? Researches argue that sunscreens although do protect us from the harmful rays of the sun and from skin damage but the chemicals used in making them may be damaging to our health.
Let’s find out what all this really means:
If you’ve ever felt irritation on your skin after a beach trip or a pool party where you dabbed sunscreen on your face, in hopes it will protect your skin you’d understand what it means. Sunscreens may wreck havoc on your skin because 9 of the 15 FDA approved chemicals used in sunscreens are clear chemicals that get absorbed into the skin and are known endocrine disruptors. Two more FDA approved chemicals are those, which reflect UV light and are minerals.
Almost as much as 90% of sunscreens use their effectiveness in shielding skin from the sun in the first hour of application. This means that they need to be re applied often to block the harmful rays of sun. Unlike mineral sunscreens which include using zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which physically block UV light and remain on the surface of the skin, chemicals sunscreens get absorbed into the skin ad enter the bloodstream. A single application of chemical sunscreen exposes our body to these toxins, which quickly scatter into our blood, urine and other organs.
As these chemicals are endocrine disruptors that have entered our bloodstream, we aren’t safe from this point on. These chemicals interfere with our hormones especially with estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, and thyroid.
It can cause abnormal development in fetuses, growing children, early puberty, and breast development in girls. They can cause be the cause of infertility and low sperm counts. It increases chances of prostate cancer in men and breast and ovarian cancer in women. These endocrine disruptors may also create free radicals that lead to cancer.
What You Can Do
While sunscreens have their benefits and do protect us from the sun they should be used carefully after thorough knowledge. The Environmental Working Group issues safety ratings on products and while choosing a sunscreen you must find one that has been listed as safe. Around 75% of sunscreens contain harmful chemicals, so there’s still 25% left to make a choice from.
Make sure when you step out of the house you are adequately covered and shielded from the sun through other means. Sunscreen should be your last resort. Wear a hat and wear clothes are protect you from the harmful rays. Don’t forget your sunglasses, find shade to wait in or park your car and plan your activities around the sun. These mindful tips can help you lessen your use of the sunscreen so that your exposure to toxic chemicals is minimal.
What I Do
We love being outdoors. David fishes regularly and we make a point to be outside as often as possible. That does make this whole situation with sunscreen complicated. One of the things we do to protect our skin is take astaxanthin. We’ve found it helps protect our skin so we don’t burn as easily and for the most part we don’t use sunscreen unless we plan to be at the pool or beach. When we do need to use sunscreen I find the least toxic by looking at the the EWG website. You can read about the last time I bought sunscreen and avoid the mistake yourself.
We go to the beach every year and while we are there I use the UVAwareness site to know when the UV is the strongest and when to avoid the sun. It’s really a great resource. Our last trip to the beach we avoided getting sunburns because we watched the UV levels, used sunscreen plus prepared our bodies ahead of time by taking this astaxanthin about a month before vacation and continued to take it while we were at the beach.
For further reading: Your Sunscreen Might Be Poisoining You
75% of Sunscreens are Toxic. What To Do Instead