Many of us remember the years that we would go out in the sun and bake ourselves for hours – no sunscreen, although we might use baby oil or something similar (I’m still not sure why we did that). We would end up with horrible sunburns if we weren’t careful. Then came the advent of sunscreen. We could go out, still get a tan (albeit slowly), but save our children and ourselves from skin cancer, wrinkles and the discomfort of sunburn. So we slathered the sunscreen on in heavy doses.
Now, researchers are finding evidence that sunscreen use may not be a great idea. At least not some sunscreens. It seems that while they may protect against sunburn and wrinkles, sunscreens might not even protect against skin cancer, and what’s worse, and many of them are made with ingredients that are downright dangerous. On top of that, slathering on the sunscreen puts people at risk for Vitamin D deficiencies, which has most recently been fingered as a possible contributing factor to multiple sclerosis. Additionally, scientists are seeing evidence that some of the ingredients in sunscreen are estrogen mimics, which stay in the body and the environment for a long time, producing unwanted consequences.
If you want to wear a sunscreen, or put sunscreen on your little ones to protect them from sunburn, read your labels. The following is a list of chemical ingredients that should be avoided:
• Benzophenones (dixoybenzone, oxybenzone)
• PABA and PABA esters (ethyl dihydroxy propyl PAB, glyceryl PABA,
• p-aminobenzoic acid padimate O or Octyl dimethyl PABA)
• Cinnamates (cinoxate, ethylhexyl, p-methoxycinnamate)
• Salicylates (ethylhexyl salicylate, homosalate, octyl salicylate)
• Avobenzone (butyl-methyoxydibenzoylmethane; Parsol 1789)
• Digalloyl trioleate
• Menthyl anthranilate
• Propylene Glycol (sometimes listed as humectants)
Chemical sunscreens are generally made up of 2-5% chemical compounds. Many of these contain or produce free radicals, which can actually increase the possibility of skin and other cancers.
The bottom line is to read labels and protect your skin with natural sunscreens whenever possible. There are many good natural sunscreen and sunblock formulations out there made by companies that are well known for being Earth and people-friendly. Remember that you can protect yourself and your children by using hats and clothing as protection, too. Stay out of the sun when it is strongest, at midday. Using a natural sunscreen and common sense precautions will help protect you from sunburn and wrinkles. It will help protect you from putting potentially dangerous chemicals on your body.