Safer Sunscreens

Sunlight is important for health and is the best way to obtain vitamin D, which is vital for so many bodily functions from immune health to bone health.


However, it is also important to practice safe sun and prevent sunburn and skin damage, particularly in babies and young children who has more sensitive skin. Sun burn in early life is a risk factor for all types of skin cancer.


It is also easier to get burnt now. There is more UV rays reaching the earth's surface due to our damaged ozone, and in combination with a poor diet, we are sadly seeing sky rocketing skin cancer rates.


When we are exposed to the sun, there is oxidative damage in the skin - which causes skin aging and increased cancer risk - however, your diet and lifestyle can influence how well your body is able to counteract that damage. I will be writing a blog post on foods that help protect us from the damaging effects of UV light. So stay tuned.


Today, let's focus on sunscreen. Yes, we absolutely need sunscreen if we are in the sun for a prolonged period of time, however, most sunscreens on the market are full of harmful chemicals.


There are several things to consider when it comes to sunscreen:

  • There are two types of UV light: UVA - causes premature skin aging. UVB - causes sunburn. Both, through unsafe exposure, can be associated with skin cancer risk.  SPF - indicates the amount of protection against UVB, not UVA. Look for Broad-spectrum which indicates protection against both UVB and UVA. 

  • Spray bottle - may not offer adequate coating and protection, and may pose chemical inhalation risk

  • Avoid products combined with bug spray as it may have reduced efficacy.


Ingredients to avoid:

  • Oxybenzone, sometimes called benzophenone-3, is banned in Hawaii due to its harm on aquatic life, and yet still found in around 40% of non-mineral based sunscreen. In animal studies, it is an endocrine disruptor and there is some evidence it has a similar impact in humans too - In an evaluation of CDC-collected exposure data for American children, researchers found that adolescent boys with higher oxybenzone measurements had significantly lower total testosterone levels. It is also a contact allergen, may cause systemic toxicity and be harmful to aquatic life. It persists and bioaccumulates in our body, and has been detected in breast milk, aminiotic fluid and blood, meaning it can cross over to babies.

  • Octinoxate - linked to endocrine disruption as well as reproductive toxicity in animal studies. Harms coral reef. Sometimes listed as OMC or methoxy-cinnamate 

  • Retinal Palmitate - a form of vitamin A, may react with UV rays and speed up the development of skin lesions. Government studies link the use of retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A, to the formation of skin tumors and lesions when it is applied to sun-exposed skin

  • Parabens, Phthalates - endocrine disruptors, can hide under the guise of ‘fragrance’, so avoid the word Fragrance on that ingredient list.


What do I like and personally use?

  • Babo Botanicals - my kids love their sunscreen because they spread easily and do not leave a white mark. Click here to get free shipping on orders over $39.95

  • Earth Mama - another great brand approved by my kids. 

  • I have oily skin, and that does not bode well with sunscreen, cue breakouts. I love Erin's faces Peptide UVA/UVB - it does not break me out and does not feel greasy or tacky. Use code VIVIAN10 for 10% off your first order, and while you are at it - snag her matcha mascara and her radiant firming concealer... you will thank you later. Trust me. These are my everyday essentials right now.  

  • If you want a tinted look, then the Impeccable Skin Mineral Matt tinted coverage by Suntegrity is great. I got mine Nakedpoppy (code platefulhealth20 for 20% OFF your first order + free shipping) 

For more options check out the infographic I've included below. 


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