Monday, May 28, 2012

Quick guide to sunscreen

I am ticking off the day's until my summer break officially starts, but for everyone else who is already heading out to celebrate here is a quick guide to protecting yourself from the sun.

When you do remember to grab the sunscreen, have you ever thought about what's in it? Reading the ingredients in sunscreen feels like a chemistry lesson gone horribly wrong. As with any product, knowing what's in your sunscreen is key to protecting yourself from harmful chemicals and the harmful rays from the sun. 

Photo courtesy of

How to protect yourself without slathering up:
Before you start breaking out the tanks and short-shorts, consider going old-school and covering up. Covering up with a shirt and a hat is easier and better for you than trying to get chemicals to absorb the sun's harmful rays. A lightweight long sleeve shirt won't wear off and you will not have to remember to reapply it, just be sure it has UPF properties in it or you might not be getting very good protection.

Hang out in the shade instead of baking in the sun. Think your tan is too cool? Any darkening of the skin is a sign of skin damage. Once you are burned you have drastically increased your risk for skin cancer. Not to mention that no one wants to look like a lobster.

Photo courtesy of

Have you ever thought about what your wrinkles will be like when you are older? Gross. Not to mention the increase risk of getting skin cancer.
Image courtesy of Think Nice

(This image has haunted me since my high school swim coach emailed it to all of us as a not so gentle reminder to use sunscreen.)

What to watch out for:
If you need to use sunscreen keep these quick tips in mind:

Image courtesy of EWG
9 surprising truths
This year the Environmental Working Group compiled a list of truths about sunscreen. For more information on them you can go here.
1. There's no consensus on whether sunscreens prevent skin cancer.
2. There's some evidence that sunscreen might increase the risk of the deadliest form of skin cancer in some people.
3. There are more high SPF products than ever before, but no proof that they're better.
4. Too little sun might be harmful, reducing the body's vitamin D levels.
5. The common sunscreen ingredient vitamin A may speed the development of cancer.
6. Free radicals and other skin-damaging byproducts of sunscreen.
7. Pick your sunscreen: nanomaterials or potential hormone disruptors.
8. Europe has better sunscreens (and more options)
9. The 34th summer in a row without final U.S. sunscreen safety regulations. 
Check back for my favorite eco-friendly sunscreen choices.

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