be kind to your eyes

The Ugly Truth About Sunscreens

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As you have hear, the doctors and media all recommend you to apply sunscreen before going outside.  The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends that everyone should use sunscreen for protection from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, which could be the trigger for skin cancer and the precursor to wrinkles and premature aging.  

But have you ever thought about all the chemicals you are lathering on your largest organ in your body, the skin?

No FDA Regulations On Sunscreen Claims

So far the FDA does not have regulations governing advertising and claims for sunscreen.  In 2011 they banned the use of terms on sunscreen making claims such as “all day protection”, “sweat” or “waterproof”.  It was recently released in 2016 by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a list of the best and worst sunscreens based on criteria as level of protection and safety of the product to guide the consumer.

The number of people suffering from malignant melanoma of the skin continues to rise each year.  Sunscreen is recommended to reduce skin aging and risk of skin cancer; many of these products have the opposite effect as they only filter UVB and not the more dangerous UVA.

Ultraviolet radiation reaches the earth as UVA and UVB light and classified as a human carcinogen by the National Toxicology Program (NTP).  The UVA is considered to be less carcinogenic than UVB.  Originally the sunscreen products were developed to filter UVB and not UVA.  UVA radiation plays an important role in the development of malignant melanoma, which is the most aggressive type of skin cancer.  Actually, according to the estimates, there will be more than 144,000 Americans diagnosed with melanoma this year.  

The five-year survival rates start at 98% if the cancer has not reached the lymph nodes, 63% for regional cancer and 17% for distant stage melanoma.  Sunscreen reduces the number of new squamous cell skin cancers, but has no effect on basal cell.  Sunscreen may actually contribute to the development of the more aggressive malignant melanoma.  It is recommended by the American Cancer Society that sunscreen should be used only as a filter, and not a reason to stay longer in the sun.

Sunscreen Blocks Natural Vitamin D

The amount of sunscreen you use to protect your skin from burning also increases the amount of toxic chemicals you use.  Sunscreen also blocks your body’s ability to manufacture vitamin D.  A supplement may be needed if your level tests below 40 nanograms per milliliter.  Studies show that 97% of people living in the U.S. are contaminated with a toxic ingredient widely used in sunscreen, called oxybenzone.  Tanning and burning can be caused by both UVA and UVB but UVA penetrates the skin more deeply than UVB and may be a more important factor in photoaging, wrinkles and skin cancers.  The product should not trigger skin allergies and must provide good protection against UV radiation, and NOT be absorbed into your skin.

Zinc Oxide Instead Of Sunscreen

The safest and best choice for sunscreen protection is zinc oxide.  A few of the best for children are Adorable Baby Sunscreen Lotion, All Good Kid’s Sunscreen, All Terrain KidSport Sunscreen, ATTITUDE Little Ones 100% Mineral Sunscreen and Badger Kids Sunscreen Cream.  Some of the worst ones are Banana Boat Kids Max Protect & Play, Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Stick, Coppertone Sunscreen Continuous Spray, CVS Baby Sunstick, Hampton Sun Continuous Mist and Equate Kids Sunscreen.

A couple good ones for adults are All Good Sport Sunscreen, All Terrain TerraSport Sunscreen, Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc, Badger Belly Organics Face Stick and Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Sunscreen.  There are others too numerous to mention.  Again, check those labels and abide by the advice NOT to stay in the sun too long even though you are using a sunscreen.  Get out and enjoy the summer sun……responsibly!

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