Chemical sunscreens are not only environmentally unsafe, but recent studies have shown that they can wreak havoc the body’s hormonal balance. Because of this, manufacturers are making an effort to produce better products in for sale to the mass market. Unfortunately, most of these products do not provide adequate protection, and contain ingredients that are concerning.
The sun’s UV rays are responsible for 80% of facial aging. Most of us spend relatively little time overall at the beach, but all the UV radiation you receive as you walk back and forth to your car, work in your garden and so forth, your face is getting bombarded by UV rays! If, like many people today, you are trying to make sure and use sunscreen diligently, let’s make sure your brand doesn’t contain ingredients that are just as harmful. Today, we bring you a guide to enjoy the sun safely:
The Do’s and Don’ts of Choosing a Sunscreen
Here are few basic things to check before you purchase your go-to sunscreen:
- No Super High SPFs – The FDA tells us that higher sun protection values (or SPFs of 50 and above) give a false sense of security. It has been clinically proven that there are no additional benefits, but for those who are not aware of this fact, it can be tempting to spend more time in the sun, extending sun damage.
- No Oxybenzones – Oxybenzones are widely used in non-mineral sunscreens. They have been studied extensively and are proven to disrupt hormones and cause allergic reactions and systemic toxicity. This chemical can be found in users breast milk, amniotic fluid, blood and urine. We find this pretty scary!
Editor’s note: My 8 y/o son almost died from an anaphylactic reaction to Cinoxate, found in Baby Banana Boat SPF100(!) put on him by a well-meaning camp counselor. This was our impetus here at PVO to develop a safe, effective sunscreen with none of these ingredients).
Other related chemicals to completely avoid are – Avobenzone, Homesalate, Octinoxate, Octisalate, Cinoxate, Dioxybenzone, Ensulizole, Meradimate, Padimate O, Sulisobenzone and Octocrylene.
- No PABA and Trolamine Salicylate – The FDA is currently proposing to ban PABA (or para-aminobenzoic acid and Trolamine salicylate in sunscreens sold in the US because of safety concerns. Both these chemicals can cause photosensitivity, allergic dermatitis and immunotoxicity.
- No Chemical forms of Vitamin A (such as Retinyl Palmitate) – Many companies advocate Retinyl Palmitate based sunscreens. While it’s true that 100% naturally derived Vitamin A in sunscreens combats photoaging, recent studies show synthetic Retinyl Palmitate can trigger the growth of tumors and other skin lesions.
- No Sunscreen Sprays or Powders – Both spray and powder sunscreens pose inhalation risk and do not provide adequate coverage.
- No Tanning Oils – Tanning oils increase the amount of melanin production on the top layer of the skin, but do not provide any protection from the UV rays.
- Dark Skin vs Light Skin – Many people believe that darker skin has a lower risk of cancer, but the fact is, no one is immune. And while pale white skin doesn’t tan, and most of the spectrum of skin pigments do, the fact remains that sunscreens are indispensable for everyone!
- The Optimum Sun Protection Factor – If you plan to be outdoors for a long time period, a broad spectrum SPF 30 + provides 97% protection from damaging UV rays.
- Zinc Oxide based Sunscreen – Zinc oxide is a natural physical barrier protection which provides broad spectrum (both UVA and UVB rays) coverage. Choose the one that is micronized (but NOT ‘nano-particulated (avoid ‘ZinClear’) which helps make application a great deal easier, and also has added plant pigments that help avoid the dreaded ghostly ‘white sheen’. Unlike chemical blockers that need 20 minutes of preappication as they actually enter your skin, mineral sunscreens stay on top of the skin, reflecting UV rays and are effective immediately.
- Reapplication – When out in full sun, it’s recommended to reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after sweating or swimming. Use water-resistant sunscreens (again reapply every 2 hours) when heading to the beach or pool.
- EWG Certified Sunscreen – The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit consumer information organization that enlists effective rating of more than 1700 sunscreen ingredients. Check whether your chosen sunscreen has all EWG approved ingredients, so you know it’s safe for the environment and your health.
- Reef Safe Sunscreen – Sunscreens that contain non-biodegradable chemicals like Oxybenzone, PABAs, Triclosan, Nanoparticles, etc. cause coral bleaching and mass destruction of our critically environnmentally important Ocean Reefs. Read here about Reef Safe Sunscreens.
What to carry in your beach bag
Aside from using 100% natural, broad spectrum, mineral based SunProtect SPF 30+, we strongly advise that you use physical protection from the sun. There are special high SPF clothing manufacturers, but a minimum of a hat, long sleeves, sunglasses or shade/umbrella for added protection during the critical hours of 10-2 are imperative. You can also check the UV index forecast before you plan your outdoor activities for the day.
Editor’s Pro Tip: Puraveda Organics sunscreen can be used on your entire body. When in the sun, don’t forget to apply Sun Protect SPF 30+ to the areas of your body that show the first signs of aging such as the neck, décolleté and back of the hands. Sun Protect SPF 30+ protects against burning/redness, and other harsh effects of the sun, while promoting an even skin tone with the DevaBright* formula.
After Sun Care
Products containing botanicals such as Aloe and Comfrey soothe sun-exposed skin. To reveal a brighter and more even complexion, exfoliating the skin at least 2-3X a week with Puraveda Organics Papaya & Honey Exfoliation Mask and Scrub (or, the SBR version for Pitta Dosha) gently removes dead skin cells and other environmental debris, and reduces the appearance of dark spots. In addition: 2X daily usage of our PVO BioScience Peptide Complex and Rejuvenation serum treatments reduce hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, fine lines, crow’s feet and the after effects of photoaging.
Read Next: ‘6 After Vacation Skin Care Rules’