The skin is the largest organ in the body, so it needs the best protection. Throughout the day, your skin keeps out bacteria, viruses and other toxins from your body. For the skin to do its job, it has to be operating at peak levels. Summertime sun can wreak havoc on your skin, and many sunscreens do not adequately protect it. Sunscreens often contain harmful chemicals that can actually damage the way your skin works. To keep your skin looking and feeling good, you have to find a safe and natural sunscreen.
How Sunscreen Works?
In the United States, sunscreen and cosmetics are theoretically managed by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA is supposed to prevent horrible chemicals from getting into sunscreen, but it often looks the other way when it comes to cosmetics. Instead, the FDA normally focuses its immense budget on ensuring pharmaceuticals and food are safe. Due to this, some American sunscreens actually contain chemicals that are banned in other countries.
When sunscreen is working the way it is supposed to, it is intended to shield our skin from harmful UV rays. Scientific studies have been mixed on the actual result. While some studies show a negligible effect, other scientific studies show that sunscreen is able to prevent a variety of different skin cancers.
For the average lady, sunscreen should be used to prevent sun-related wrinkles, sun spots and skin cancer. For sunscreen to have the desired effect, it must be made of natural ingredients. You should always look for skincare products that are devoid of chemicals because these chemicals can actually harm your skin.
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What to Watch Out for?
If finding the right sunscreen is a daunting task for you, the following list of chemicals are things that you should watch out for. Avoid any sunscreens that contain these chemicals. You should also check sunscreens that advertise how natural they are, just in case the marketing hype is not correlated to reality.
- Spays and Powders: Sunscreen does not naturally come in a spray or powder form. As a rule, you should avoid any sunscreen that is a spray or powder because it uses chemicals to take this alternative form. Since sprays and powders are easily breathed in, these cosmetic products can be absorbed by the lungs and the blood stream. Unfortunately, many powders and sprays are only tested for skin safety, which means that there are no studies on their safety for the lungs.
- Fragrance: Although fragrant sunscreens smell nicer, they generally use a blend of chemicals to achieve the smell.
- Oxybenzone: This chemical is included in many sunscreens because it blocks UVB rays. Unfortunately, UV rays are needed by the skin to make vitamin D. The rays that you want to block are UVA rays. In addition to blocking the wrong type of rays, Oxybenzone is also known to disrupt hormone production in the body. It is especially bad for children, so be wary.
- SPF 50+: When it comes to SPF levels that are higher than 50, the Food and Drug Administration does not actually do any regulation. Currently, there are no scientific studies to demonstrate that a higher SPF is better at preventing skin cancer. In reality, the higher SPF could actually block the rays that your body needs to create vitamin D. Avoid any SPF that is higher than 50.
- Vitamin A: Also known as retinyl palmitate, vitamin A sounds like it should be safe for the skin. According to a 2009 study by the National Toxicology Program, vitamin A can increase the chances of skin tumors and lesions when it is used on skin that is exposed to sunlight.
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Going all Natural
To pick a safe sunscreen, you need to find a lotion-based sunscreen that has some water resistance. You are likely to sweat in the sun, and your sunscreen must be able to stay on. Ideally, the sunscreen that you choose should protect you from UVA and UVN rays. It should not contain nanoparticles because these small particles are too readily absorbed by the skin.
In addition to these tips, you should look for a product that does not use any fragrances. Your ideal sunscreen will contain zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or other minerals that do not penetrate the skin. If all of these tips seem to difficult to follow, you can always go to the Environmental Working Group’s website (EWG). At EWG, they have a sunscreen guide that ranks the safety of sunscreen products on a zero to two scale.
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Sticking with an SPF 15 sunscreen can reduce the rays that reach your skin by 99 percent. You do not want to go any higher because you need some sun to create vitamin D. Without vitamin D, you are at risk of developing diseases like depression, cancer, cardiovascular problems and diabetes. There is a fine line between too little and too much sunscreen, so always follow the directions on the bottle and stay safe.