It’s finally summer – the best time of year! Beaches, boardwalks, cookouts, parks, pools…wow, that’s a lot of activities happening outdoors. That means you’ll be picking up your favorite sunscreen and slathering it on (I hope – please do!) before you head out the door, which is fabulous. But do you know what’s in your sunscreen? Some sunscreens aren’t protecting you as much as you think. In fact, some are actually doing your body harm.
The 2016 spring report from Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that 72% of the sunscreens tested contained harmful ingredients or were inadequate sun protection. This is their 10th annual Guide to Sunscreens report, and while the report shows there have been some improvements, the vast majority of sunscreens available in the U.S. still contain toxic chemicals or fail to offer enough protection against UV rays.
Why should you care so much? I mean, it’s not like your putting sunscreen in your body, right? Did you know, that your skin absorbs up to 60% of what you put on it? That’s 60% of those toxic chemicals being absorbed into your body. And even if a chemical isn’t so harmful that it affects us right away, some bio-accumulate in the body, taking their toll over time. So what are you looking for?
The most problematic of the sunscreen chemicals used in the U.S. is oxybenzone, found in nearly every chemical sunscreen, which can penetrate the skin causing allergic reactions and disrupting hormones. In fact, the EWG’s sunscreen report found that 70% of sunscreens contained this chemical. Then there’s methylisothiazolinone. This one is used in personal care products like sunscreen, shampoo, and conditioner as a preservative to keep your products fresh on the shelf. The problem? A recent study found the chemical may actually be linked to nerve damage. And not only that, but a 2012 study found that brief exposure to MIT is toxic in low concentrations during neural development, increasing the risk of seizures and visual abnormalities. Plus EWG says MIT is a skin sensitizer and irritant, which means that it can cause contact allergies. This one’s a doozy! There’s also homosalate, which disrupts estrogen, androgen, and progesterone.
What’s the solution? We all know that a) Vitamin D is vitally important, and b) we can’t completely avoid the sun, but there are plenty of ways to avoid the damaging rays of the sun. Clothing is the biggest alternative. Wear something white or light colored so it will reflect the rays of light and pop on a sun hat for extra protection. Another natural alternative to sunscreen? Sesame oil! Sesame oil can block out approximately 30% of the sun rays. Apply to your body every two hours for maximum results. Another non-toxic alternative? Sunscreens that use zinc oxide. These sunscreens provide a physical barrier rather than a chemical barrier, which means no chemicals are getting into your body. OR make your own, home-made sunscreen with ingredients such as zinc oxide, coconut oil, shea butter, and essential oils. Here’s a great recipe to get you started. You can also find our round-up of natural alternatives to sunscreen here.
Always be sure to check the ingredients in everything before you buy. We want you to have a safe, healthy, and happy summer! And if you’d like to learn more about toxins like these and how they can affect your hormones, call to make an appointment with us – we can tell you more about these and other chemicals, including the dangers and what products are better to use.
*Read EWG’s full report HERE*