Natural Sun Protection
Summer is here and the stores are full of sunscreens, all promising to protect us from the sun with Sun Protection Factors (SPFs) of 30, 50 and even 70. But are all sunscreens created equal? The short answer is no but with a few guidelines and a lot of common sense, you can have a safe and healthy summer outside.
The best kept secret of the summer is Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Sun Safety website. Read on for highlights of a few of the gems you can find there.
A little common sense
Summer hats are more than great fashion sense, they’re common sense! EWG suggests you adopt these five summer habits to protect yourself from the sun naturally, before you even think about sunscreens.
- Don’t get burned. Red, sore, blistered or peeling skin means far too much sun – and raises your skin cancer risk.
- Wear clothes. Shirts, hats, shorts and pants provide the best protection from ultraviolet (UV) rays – and they don’t coat your skin with goop.
- Find shade – or make it. Picnic under a tree, read beneath an umbrella, take a canopy to the beach. Keep infants in the shade – they lack the tanning pigments known as melanin to protect their skin.
- Plan around the sun. Go outdoors in early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is lower. UV radiation peaks at midday.
- Sunglasses aren’t just a fashion accessory. Good shades protect your eyes from UV radiation that causes cataracts.
Through your skin
When you rub a cream, lotion or sunscreen on your skin, you’re absorbing it into your body. It’s the reason that some medicines are available as patches – by applying the patch to your arm or stomach, the medicine is absorbed into your body and does its work, just as if you had swallowed a pill. With that in mind, here are seven guidelines you can use for selecting a sunscreen:
- No spray sunscreens – not as effective & inhalation risks
- No super-high SPFs – danger of staying out in the sun too long
- No oxybenzone and other endocrine disrupting chemicals (need we say more)
- No retinyl palmitate – may speed development of skin tumours & lesions
- No combined sunscreen/bug repellents – can be less effective & absorbing more chemicals
- No sunscreen towelettes or powders – dubious protection & lung irritation risk
- No tanning oils – little or no sun protection
Sun safe products
So what can you use that protects you from the sun and protects your body from harmful chemicals. Well you’ve come to the right place because Healthtree has a great choice of natural and organic skin care products that are kind to you and your skin.
Sunscreens from natural health companies like Kiss My Face, Green Beaver, Goddess Garden, Alba Botanica, Jason, just to name a few – all rank well in EWG’s Skin Deep database, now in a handy mobile app! You can enter the product name or scan the barcode to get the product ranking: green (1-2) means the product’s ingredients have a low hazard score and a good rating; brown (3-5) has a moderate hazard score and ranking while red (6-7) has high hazard ingredients and a poor ranking. Skin Deep is not just for sunscreens; it works for other personal care products as well.
Need vitamin D?
And remember, if you’re staying out of the sun or always using sunscreen, it’s best to have your health care professional test your vitamin D level. You manufacture vitamin D, a nutrient that helps your body absorb calcium (important for healthy bones and teeth), when your skin is exposed to sunlight. If you’re low, vitamin D supplements will top you up.
For more information about sunscreens, visit EWG’s Sun Safety website. And don’t forget to download their Skin Deep app. Have a safe and healthy summer!