Chemical vs. Mineral Sunscreen
There are two different kinds of sunscreens on the market. As we are in the peak of Summer, we feel it is important to provide information about your numerous choices, as a consumer. Before you slather up, and sit in the sun, be sure you aren’t actually doing more harm than good.
The most abundant type of sunscreen on the market are chemical sunscreens. According to a recent Environmental Working group study, over two-thirds of sunscreens were found to be ineffective or unsafe. Some of the most popular sunscreen brands were on the list of ineffective sunscreens. Chemical sunscreens absorb into the skin, and react with UV rays in order to be effective. Because they are chemical, once they are exposed to sun, they begin to biodegrade. This process makes them ineffective and it is why their instructions include the need to reapply frequently. This can create a whole host of issues. As these already dangerous chemicals break down, they become more toxic to the body, as they release free radicals that we know can cause cancer. In addition, constant reapplication only concentrates the amount of harmful chemicals being absorbed by our largest organ: the skin. So, not only are sunscreens not proven to prevent cancer, but they can be causing cancer itself!
In addition to the active ingredients in chemical sunscreens, there is concern with their inactive ingredients. Many contain preservatives, fillers, binders, and surfactants, to name a few. Many of these ingredients are known irritants, carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and the list goes on and on…. Consumers should also avoid spray sunscreens, fragrance, and towelettes as they come with additional health concerns.
An alternative to chemical sunscreens, are mineral sunscreens. They are usually made of titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, which sit on the skin and help block sun rays. Because they are made of minerals, there is no concern with the active ingredients degrading in the sun. Titanium Dioxide and zinc oxide also protect against UVA and UVB rays. This is a great benefit to mineral sunscreens, as SPF is only a measure of a sunscreen’s ability to protect against UVB rays. Read your ingredient labels thoroughly, to be sure you are using a mineral sunscreen that is non-toxic, spreads well, and does not use nano-particles.
SOME ADDITIONAL MEASURES
Sunscreen should be used for long exposure to the sun. This should be done after you have already absorbed your daily Vitamin D, as constant blocking of the sun will hinder the body’s ability to absorb and process Vitamin D. Vitamin D is consequently used by the body to protect against numerous cancers, including melanoma. While this is completely opposite of the advice we have been given for decades, numerous studies show that melanoma lesions are routinely found in areas of the body that are not exposed to sun. Consider that our cancer statistics continue to increase, even with widespread use of sunscreens.
If you do use sunscreen, know that a high SPF will not provide a much greater amount of protection. In fact, SPF 30 blocks 96% of the UVB rays, while SPF 50 blocks 98%. Remember that SPF is only a measure of UVB blocking, and what is necessary is a full spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA & UVB rays.
Some alternative ways to block excessive sun exposure include the use of: protective clothing, hats, seeking shade, and a diet high in antioxidants. These are all effective measures that do not require the use of sunscreen.
*No content on our website should be considered or construed as medical advice. Please consult a physician for questions regarding your health and wellbeing.