Summer is just around the corner! Before booking your next holiday trip and starting to plan what swimwear to wear on a beach there’s something else that you should do in order to be fully prepared: get a natural sunscreen. Here are some tips and a breakdown of what to watch out for as you prime for the summer sunshine.
DOES HIGHER SPF MEAN BETTER
Generally, higher SPFs are no better than mid-range SPFs. Choose an SPF 30, and reapply often. In fact, SPF 30 filters out 97 percent of rays, while SPF 50 only filters out an additional 1 percent. That’s why experts worry that people are led astray by high SPFs. Plus, high SPFs are often filled with higher doses of chemicals than lower SPFs.
PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL
There are two types of sunscreens: chemical and mineral/physical sunscreens. Unfortunately, most of the chemical ones on the market have harmful ingredients such as oxybenzone and parabens, which have been shown to be endocrine (hormone) disruptors in studies of cancer cells. As chemicals are absorbed through the skin and enter the bloodstream, circulating through the entire body they have been detected in the blood, urine, and breast milk up to two days after a single application.
Mineral sunscreen provides protection against the full spectrum of ultraviolet radiation and generally use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which form a physical barrier as these minerals “float” on the top of the skin and are not absorbed. Mineral sunscreens are generally well-tolerated by sensitive skin because their ingredients aren’t absorbed into the skin itself. Instead, the physical filters in mineral sunscreens sit on the surface of the skin and act as a screen that deflects UV radiation.
CHEMICALS TO AVOID
Oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate. All these chemicals are used to help the sunscreen penetrate into the skin more easily, and even more so when exposed to sunlight. They then accumulate in our bodies and disrupt hormones, throwing off the entire endocrine system. Avoid sunscreens with retinyl palmitate. This form of vitamin A may have some serious negative effects when used on sun-exposed skin and it may cause speedier growth of skin tumours and lesions.
At the end of the day, it is all about compromising and looking for the best option as no sunscreen is 100% safe for marine life, oceans, and reefs. However, some sunscreen brands (specifically sunscreen without oxybenzone and octinoxate) are significantly more friendly compared to sunscreen with dangerous ingredients. You can do your own research to find the best brand, or take a look at Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s top sunscreens (link to the website below) that meet their tough safety criteria.