Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. In fact, more than one million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States every year. The number one risk factor for skin cancer, as most of us know, is unprotected and/or excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UVA & UVB) radiation. It must follow then that the best prevention of skin cancer is the application of sunscreen, right? But what if the sunscreen you rely on to protect your skin and health contains toxic chemical ingredients that absorb into the bloodstream and raise safety concerns?
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has done extensive research on sunscreens and has concluded that, while going without sunscreen altogether isn't a safe choice, consumers shouldn't just pick up the first bottle they see at the drugstore, either. With that in mind, we've provided a list of sun safety tips, in addition to the best biodegradable and low-hazard sunscreen brands.
BEFORE YOU APPLY SUNSCREEN:
- Find shade. Sit beneath a tree, read under an umbrella, take a canopy with you to the beach.
- Wear clothes. Solarweave is a fabric specifically manufactured to block more than 97.5 percent of all UVA and UVB rays. It's available in bathing suit cover-ups, long-sleeved shirts, T-shirts, trousers, and hats.
- Wear more clothes. Coolibar tunics, blouses, hoodies, trousers, swimwear, and sun hats are made with protective, high-tech fabrics that deliver 98 percent blockage. They're also breathable, comfortable, and fashionable!
- Protect your eyes . Wear wraparound sunglasses that provide 100 percent UV ray protection (UV radiation causes cataracts).
- Plan around the sun . The sun's rays are strongest between 10 A.M. and 4 P.M., so avoid outdoor activities during midday.
THINGS TO WATCH FOR IN SUNSCREEN:
- Sunscreens that contain benzophenone-3, homosalate, or octyl-methoxycinnamate. These ingredients not only behave like estrogen and are known to disrupt users' endocrine systems, they are more readily absorbed through the skin. In addition, these non-biodegradable chemicals accumulate in oceans where they contribute to coral reef pollution and are harmful to marine life.
- Products that boast high SPFs. Anything higher than SPF 50 will tempt you to stay in the sun too long, which suppresses sunburn but not the other sources of skin damage.
- Sprays or powders. Critics argue that nanoparticles have a greater potential to penetrate the dermis and end up in the bloodstream, either through cuts or inhalation.
- Products that contain vitamin A (retinyl palmitate). Though this ingredient is in 41 percent of all sunscreens, not to mention numerous moisturizers and various other skin products, new government data reported by EWG shows it leads to the development of tumors and lesions.
- Sunscreens that contain insect repellent. Most conventional insect repellents come with their own set of health risks – eye irritation and skin reactions, even neurological symptoms such as seizure, lethargy, confusion, and disorientation. While sunscreen should be reapplied frequently throughout the day, multiple reapplications of sunscreens containing insect repellent (such as DEET) will increase your vulnerability to potentially toxic effects. If you need bug spray, buy it separately and apply it before sunscreen.
EFFECTIVE, LOW-HAZARD SUNSCREEN BRANDS( EWG -Rated):
- Soleo Organics All Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30
- Badger All Natural, Unscented Sunscreen, SPF 30
- Keys Care Solar Rx Broad Spectrum Sunblock, SPF 30
- Purple Prairie Botanicals Sun Stuff Lotion, SPF 30
- Marie Veronique Organics Moisturizing Face Screen, SPF 30