All Natural Sunscreen
Posted on June 29th, 2012

With summer well on its way and people getting ready for the Canada Day long weekend, commercials full of children playing outside and people in bathing suits have been bombarding us for weeks now. But a summer lifestyle that includes less clothing and more time spent outside requires us to be a little bit more careful than normal. Sun safety is utterly important during these summer months and we want to help you choose the healthiest product to protect your skin with.

The Basics – Why do we use sunscreen?

Proper sun safety habits will do more than just save you from a nasty burn and give you a nice golden tan; it could potentially save your life. Skin cancer is the most common variety of cancer in the world and each year it claims 900 Canadian lives. Just one sunburn during an individual’s childhood has been shown to double your chances of developing cancer. That's why it is so important to protect yourself from the sun, both UVA and UVB rays, which have both been associated with different types of cancer. This is where your sunblock comes in handy, however with all the chemicals found in your average sunscreen, it poses its own risks.

Types of Sunscreen – Chemical vs Physical

Chemical sunscreens typically work by absorbing the UV rays. They contain chemicals which filter UVA and/or UVB rays such as Avobenzone and Mexoryl.  Physical sunscreens, also called mineral sunscreens, use titanium dioxide or zinc oxide as physical barriers to the sun.

Why choose a natural sunscreen?

One of the most widely available chemicals used in sunscreens for its ability to be absorbed flawlessly into the skin is oxybenzone, which is a potential hormone disrupter that scientists found 96% of people were exposed to in 2004. Some ingredients in chemical sunscreens also increase the toxicity of the skin and are believed to be carcinogenic; mineral sunscreens are a more natural alternative. These mineral sunblocks can be found in waterproof, biodegradable, organic, moisturizing and non-whitening formulas. However, in order to create these user-friendly mineral sunblocks, many manufacturers have turned to using nano-particles. There is some data that shows that these nano-particles may be able to penetrate the skin and cause health risks.

So, what to do?

Unfortunately, it seems that there is no sunscreen out there that is proven 100% safe, but the mineral sunscreens appear to be the lesser of two evils. Your best bet is to find and use a mineral sunblock that does not contain nano-particles! The Environmental Working Group has a great guide to help you choose a healthy option that works for you!  http://breakingnews.ewg.org/2012sunscreen/best-sunscreens/best-beach-sport-sunscreens/

What else can you do to protect yourself?

Here are a few things to remember when spending time in the sun:
• The best protection from the sun is to cover up with loose, tightly knit clothing and wide hats
• Stay inside or in shaded areas when the sun is at its highest
• Always buy unscented sunscreens to avoid artificial perfume chemicals
• Don’t be fooled by high SPF ratings, double the SPF does not necessarily mean double the protection –  remember that SPF greater than 50 doesn’t really offer any more protection


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