From palm trees and pineapples to turquoise waters and golden sand. It’s the time of year many of us get away on sun drenched holidays for good old r&r . Apart from insurance, one thing most of us do to protect ourselves is pack the sunscreen. Nobody wants sunburn, it’s painful and the effects are lasting. Without covering from head to toe, a good sunscreen is a must. But what you may think is protecting your skin from sunburn, skin aging and skin cancer may not be the safest thing after all.
I’ve read into a lot of information about this topic and wanted to give you the low down of what I’ve discovered, as well as testing a sunscreen with a different list of ingredients to those that you typically find in the local supermarket.
- Firstly, a sunscreen should be SPF 30, no more and no less. Properly applied SPF 30 will protect you for 300 minutes. So would SPF 50 protect me for 500 minutes? No. Sunscreen should ALWAYS be applied every 2-3 hours so it renders SPF 50 useless.
- Secondly, sprays and powders should be avoided. One, they may not give full coverage, and two, there is a risk of inhalation. Even with a safer sunscreen they are not reccomended as what may be good for your skin isn’t necessarily good in your lungs. If you absolutely have to use a spray- spray into your hands first then apply.
- Thirdly it should have broad spectrum protection protecting the skin from both UVA and UVB. It shouldn’t cause skin allergies and it should be highly water resistant.
What’s causing allergies in sunscreen?
“Oxybenzone can cause allergic skin reactions (Rodriguez 2006).” www.ewg.org
Most shop bought sunscreens are chemical based. According to the Environmental Working Group (ewg) these are the main chemicals that can be commonly found:
Oxybenzone is said to be the most worrisome;
- It’s been found to contribute to relatively high rates of skin allergies.
- It acts like estrogen in the body which has been found to alter sperm production in animals and is associated with endometriosis in women.
Chemical sunscreens also contain the preservative methylisothiazolinone.
“The American Contact Dermitits Society named it ‘allergen of the year’in 2012.” (ewg)
This chemical preservative has also been found in other products such as baby wipes!
What is a safer sunscreen?
To avoid chemicals and reduce the risk of skin allergies and hormone disruption in the body, the safest option is to use a mineral based sunscreen. And here is why…
Badger Chamomile and Calendula with 18.5% Zinc Oxide. The active ingredient in this sunscreen is the zinc oxide, which thankfully is a mineral and not a nasty chemical. I chose this sunscreen for my children as Frankie in particular often has a rash across her eyebrows after previously using chemical based sunscreens. Here is what I thought of it; firstly the consistency is thicker than what I’ve been used too so you need to give the tube a good squeeze. It feels stickier at first but once it’s warmed up a little it goes on the skin smoothly. It does leave a slight white hue on the skin due to the zinc oxide but this seemed to disappear after 10 minutes. We stayed around the pool for an hour and a half dipping in and out of the water. It seems very water resistant as you could still see drops of water running from the skin after that amount of time and still feel the product on the skin. Once we had finished in the pool there didn’t appear to be any rash on Frankie’s eyebrows.
I am very pleased with this product and will continue using it. I fully intend on not reverting back to chemical sunscreens in the future. It is slightly more expensive than a common chemical sunscreen but I feel the price is justified to give the best protection.
Ultimately, protecting yourself and your family from the suns harmful rays is the best thing we can do for our health whilst enjoying ourselves in the sun. If we can avoid using harmful chemicals in that process then fantastic! Please do let me know if you use mineral based sunscreen for you and your family and what you think of it, now go and enjoy that gorgeous sunshine in the safest way possible way….