Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sunscreen & Sun Exposure -- What You Need to Know!

     As the temperatures rise and we spend more time outdoors, it is important to be prepared for more sun exposure. We can learn two important things from our ancestors and other cultures:  some sun is essential for your health and vitality. In fact, about a half hour to one hour a day is a good amount of time to be out in the sun. We can also learn that too much exposure can damage and photo-age the skin. So the best practice is to plan our sun time, and use hats and clothing to cover up beyond the one hour of exposure.
     Interestingly enough, as people became more and more sun-phobic and started slathering on layers of popular sunscreens, skin cancer rates began to rise.  Two obvious reasons: First, the body was not getting enough Vitamin D which is essential for the immune system to function properly and is protective against cancer; and secondly, many of the toxic chemicals in the sunscreens were being absorbed directly into the blood stream and have been recently discovered to be carcinogenic. Chemical sunscreens give a false sense of security because they prevent burning; however, hidden damage is taking place on a cellular level because they produce dangerous free radicals.
     Some safe sunlight exposure is essential for our overall health and has been shown to be protective against many different types of cancer. In fact, people who spend time outdoors without burning actually decrease their risk of developing melanoma, a deadly skin cancer. 
     What’s the story with UVA and UVB rays?  Ultraviolet light from the sun comes in two main wavelengths – UVA and UVB.  UVB is the beneficial wavelength that helps our skin produce vitamin D. It is highest at midday and low in the morning and evening. In contrast, UVA causes skin problems because it penetrates the skin more deeply and causes free radical damage. These rays are constant throughout the day year around. For maximum benefit to your health, it’s best to get your sun exposure during the middle of the day.
     So what’s the best advice when it comes to sun exposure?  Limit your time in the sun to one hour a day.  Beyond that, wear a hat and light cotton clothing to protect your skin.  When you are going to be out in the sun for a longer period of time and can’t limit your exposure, use a natural sunscreen.   You want to select a 100% mineral-based, broad spectrum UV protection (that means it protects against both UVA and UVB). In addition, it should be an all natural, biodegradable formula that won’t damage the delicate underwater ecosystems in the oceans and lakes.  Finally, it should not contain any synthetic chemicals or nano particles. 
     A few years ago, the only all natural-mineral based sunscreens left your skin very white and oily. Now, there are many new formulas that have been developed to go on clear. They’re also great for babies, children and pregnant women. Next time you’re looking for sunscreen, try one of these:

True Natural in SPF 50 for the face (vanilla, coconut or unscented), SPF 50 Lotions, and an Active SPF 50 Spray.  These are all natural, 100% mineral based, broad spectrum UV protection, sunscreens without chemicals or nano particles.  They also have a self-tanner that looks fabulous.

Lavera Organic Sunscreens: Anti-aging facial sunscreen SPF 15, Baby & children Sun Screen SPF 20, Self Tanner for face and body.

John Master’s Organics:  SPF 30 natural Mineral Sunscreen.

     Finally, check your current screen and get rid of it if it contains any of these ingredients. Seriously, you don’t need any more toxic chemicals floating around in your body.  Here’s a clue, if you can’t pronounce it, don’t use it!  

Para amino benzoic acid (PABA), PABA esters (ethyl dihydroxy propyl PAB, glyceryl PABA, p-aminobenzoic acid, padimate-o or octyl dimethyl PABA), Cinnamates (cinoxate, ethylhexyl p-methoxycinnamate, octocrylene, octyl methoxycinnamate), Octyl salicyclate, Avobenzone, Padimate O, Dioxybenzon & Oxybenzone, (powerful free radical generators), Phenylbenzimidazole, Homosalate, Sulisobenzone, Menthyl anthranilate, Trolamine salicyclate.

Enjoy the sun and the light of summer!

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