THE TRUTH ABOUT SUN PROTECTION
We have all been eagerly awaiting the summer sun which brings family BBQs, day trips out with the family, great British pub lunches and respite from an incredibly challenging year
However, most of these gatherings are outdoors and we need to ask ourselves some questions :
- Are we avoiding the sun at its midday peak?
- Are we wearing hats, and wearing adequate UV protection?
- Or are we increasing the risk of damaging our skin, possibly leading to skin cancer and other long-term effects?
When outside we are always at risk of sun damage – If your skin turns pink/red it’s a clear sign of this and the fairer your skin the more vigilant you should be. When considering which sunscreen is best for us, we need to take into account the ingredients, quality and safety of the product……
The EWG and who are they?
The EWG, or the Environmental Working group is a non -profit environmental group that aims to educate people in order to make smarter, healthier choices. Their aim is to protect public health by pushing the government and industries to educate their consumers and stand against chemicals or harmful produce. They cover areas such as skincare, household products, food, toxic chemicals and energy and have a number of interesting articles and research papers on their website. Additionally, since 2007 the EWG has been searching for the safer, more effective skincare products and offers an analysis that says only one in four sunscreen products offer adequate protection!
There have been many reports on sunscreens and findings suggest that The FDA is due to propose new sunscreen regulations this year that recognise just 2 ingredients as safe. This is in line with EWG’s message and highlights the importance of mineral based sunscreens!
ZINC OXIDE and TITANIUM DIOXIDE
Zinc Oxide sunscreen is a great alternative to chemical sunscreen. They are often referred to as ‘physical’ sunscreens due to their capacity to physically block the UV rays from penetrating the skin. Titanium Dioxide is another ingredient that acts as a ‘physical’ sunscreen. Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide in sunscreen work straight away, protecting against both UVA and UVB rays and it rarely causes irritation on the skin. Additionally, it is great for people who suffer from acne or rosacea as it has anti- inflammatory properties.
The EWG have always recommended consumers look for UV protection containing these ingredients.
THE DANGERS OF TOXIC CHEMICAL SUNSCREENS
The FDA have proposed that 12 other ingredients found in 60% of sunscreens including Oxybenzone need additional safety testing – studies have found that Oxybenzone can cause allergic reactions and can be an endocrine disruptor, impacting hormone levels.
There are many problems with chemical sunscreens and this makes natural, mineral sunscreens the better and safer alternative. Sunscreens with higher SPF’S may be misleading to consumers by encouraging us to stay out in the sun longer while not always delivering the protection that we need. Studies also found that 29% of SPF products on the market would not pass the FDA standards!
It is unfortunate that these products are being sold and we believe it maybe a long time before they are banned. However, do your research and switch to buying mineral- based sunscreens containing Zinc Oxide/ Titanium dioxide over chemical sunscreens to take care of your skin in the summer sun!
THINK DIRTY APP
THINK DIRTY is an app that in their own words, ‘empowers ingredient- conscious consumers to choose the safest beauty, personal and household products’. It allows you to scan your products, whether that be beauty or household products and provides you with its ingredients. There is also the addition of ‘cleaner’ options, encouraging us as consumers to say no to harmful chemicals and ingredients and make the right choice!
This is a great and easy way to check your products before you buy and test out the safest alternatives to harmful or potentially unsafe products.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Most consumers choose a sunscreen based on its such protection factor (SPF), the skincare brand that the sunscreen is linked to or simply not based on anything other than convenience. Equating SPF with the quality of protection seems comforting, but assuming all sunscreens will provide adequate protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays may damage our skin and our health.
SPF values are an unreliable measure of the effectiveness of sunscreens and only reflects how well we are protected against UVB rays. The best sunscreens will provide broad- spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays, therefore protecting us from sunburn, skin cancer and other damaging long- term effects.
It is often convenient for us to buy chemical sunscreens as they are cheap and readily available. However ,they contain toxic and harmful ingredients, and often fail to protect our skin to the extent that we need. Mineral sunscreens that contain ingredients such as Zinc Oxide are natural, non- toxic and work straight away to protect us from the sun by physically blocking out the rays.
Enjoy these sunny days making memories but always wear your sun- screen, try not to burn and make the right choice – your skin will thank you!