Your skin is your largest organ – taking good care of it is so important not only if you want to look your best, but in order to feel your best too. Because the ingredients in the products that you put on your skin are absorbed directly into your bloodstream, you always want to choose products that are completely nontoxic – including nontoxic sun protection.
You’ve probably heard time and time again that you need to slather on plenty of sun screen every time you head outside to prevent sunburn, avoid skin cancer and delay signs of aging.
But are all sunscreens created equally? Not at all. In fact, many of the more popular brands of sunscreen actually contain harmful ingredients that you don’t want to put on your body!
As always, it all starts with the ingredients. Truthfully, all you really need in a sunscreen is titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These natural, mineral ingredients sit on top of the skin to form barrier protection from UV rays.
Unfortunately, many sunscreens also have ingredients that aren’t so healthy, such as:
Fragrance – Synthetic fragrances are petroleum-based and are linked to organ toxicity and can trigger allergies.
Oxybenzone – This common ingredient has been shown to disrupt hormone activity. Plus, it only blocks UVB ray (sun’s good rays that provide vitamin D production), not UVA which are the most free radical damaging rays.
High SPF – Contrary to popular belief, it turns out high SPF does not necessarily offer more protection. The Environmental Working Group performed a study and determined that lower SPF is used more effectively.
To find a nontoxic sunscreen, look for one that is completely mineral based, doesn’t contain oxybenzone or fragrance. Apply often – but don’t forget: a little midday sunshine is a good thing! Your skin needs to be exposed to sunlight to produce vitamin D, which promotes positive mood, appetite control and hormone regularity. In fact, there’s a body of evidence that suggests that moderate sun exposure actually decreases the risk of sun cancer. So: avoid sun burn, but don’t avoid the sun completely!
It’s also wise to follow a few other sun protection tips in order to avoid being sun burned:
Wear a wide brimmed hat while working outside, such as while gardening, or when you’re near the water.
Wear long, loose clothing that covers your skin when you’ll be outside for several hours at a time.
Also, understand the difference between UVA and UVB rays:
UVA rays are the “bad” rays that cause skin damage and burning. You are exposed to these rays every time you go outside during daylight hours.
UVB rays are the beneficial rays that help your body produce vitamin D – which you need!
UVB rays are lowest during the morning and evening hours, and on cloudy days. Unfortunately, the harmful UVA rays are still active at those times, so you’re getting all the damage with none of the benefits! So, be sure to protect your skin when you head out at those times. Save the vitamin D-boosting sessions for short midday outings – but again, don’t overdo it – sunburn defeats the purpose.