Not ALL sunscreens are harmful, but you need to avoid those that have potentially harmful ingredients!
Of course, though, do the benefits of blocking the sun outweigh the ingredients…? Not if there are better solutions!
A staggeringly low 25% of 800 tested sunscreens are effective without using harmful ingredients.
To make the safe list, sunscreens must be free of oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate (a type of vitamin A), and not have SPF above 50 and protect against UVA and UVB sunrays.
Apparently 56% of beach and sport sunscreens contain the chemical oxybenzone. Oxybenzone is there to absorb ultraviolet light, but some research shows oxybenzone can be absorbed through the skin — which isn't good at all. It has been linked to hormone disruption and might further cell damage and lead to skin cancer (which is what it's trying to prevent!)!
The American Academy of Dermatology says otherwise, and that oxybenzone is safe:
"Oxybenzone is one of the few FDA-approved ingredients that provides effective broad spectrum protection from UV radiation, and has been approved for use since 1978."
Consumers are also being warned to avoid retinyl palminate, which is a particular type of vitamin A that may increase risk of skin cancer when used on sun-exposed skin. However, these reports have been in mice and evidence has been inconclusive for humans.
Consumers should use products labeled broad spectrum, and most dermatologists agree. That means the product protects against both UVB rays that cause sunburns and also UVA radiation that causes premature skin damage and aging.
Also, consumers should not purchase sunscreens with SPF greater than 50. SPF (sun protection factor) works by absorbing, reflecting or scattering the sun's rays on the skin — and once you hit SPF 50 the protection plateaus and the rest doesn't really become worth it. At 50 you have 98% protection!
Plus SPF only indicates the protection against UVB rays!
Here's the quick guide amongst all the info:
–Use a sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 15 and a maximum of SPF 50;
–Make sure labels list UVA and UVB (or broad spectrum protection);
–Avoid products containing oxybenzone and retinyl palminate if you're concerned about potentially toxic chemicals;
–Choose lotions versus spray sunscreens for a more evenly distributed protection.
Remember to apply at least 2 ounces of lotion (about a shot glass full) and reapply often. The sun breaks down the ingredients in sunscreen that protect your skin. Experts recommend reapplying every two hours, or after swimming or heavy sweating.
Happy Summer, guys!
[Image via AP Images.]
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