As summer rolls in once again, we find ourselves headed to the beach, sitting out by the pool, and basking in the warmth of the sun.
Store shelves are lined with sunscreen of all different brands, SPF levels, price points, ingredient lists, and more. How do you know if you’re choosing the right product?
If it were merely a matter of blocking the sun’s rays, the decision would be much simpler.
Some sun exposure is beneficial but many people can’t handle too much (hello, sunburn!). While sunscreen is protective against sunburn, a lot of the common ingredients are harmful.
Seems like kind of a lose-lose situation, doesn’t it?
Well, not to worry. We’ve got you covered (see what I did there??) with tips on how to get the benefits of that glorious summer sun while still preventing a burn that will force you back inside for the next three days.
Get that vitamin D
When exposed to sunlight your body makes vitamin D (actually a hormone), which is essential for good health. It helps grow and maintain strong and healthy bones, supports your immune system, and can protect against depression.
Your body is designed to spend time in the sun – in fact, you have over 3,000 binding sites for vitamin D on every cell. Getting about 10-30 minutes of full, non-sunscreened sun exposure per day in the summer months will help your body create adequate amounts of vitamin D.
After about 10-30 minutes in the sun you can apply a non-toxic sunscreen to protect against sunburn. Since sunscreen blocks your body’s ability to make vitamin D, it’s essential to spend some time in the sun without it.
So how do I protect myself?
If sunlight helps you get vitamin D, how do you balance that with protecting yourself from sunburn?
We’ve been taught that sunscreen protects us from sunburns and skin cancer, but many of the products out there contain cancer-causing ingredients. So what do you do?
Even many brands that claim to be healthy put these harmful chemicals in their sunscreens. And sure, they do a great job at protecting you from sunburn, but they may actually do more harm than good in the long run. We recommend avoiding products with any of these ingredients:
So what do I do now?
Fortunately, there are a lot of great products out there that contain non-toxic or less toxic ingredients. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are generally recognized as safe and effective options. Look for products that contain either of those.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a great resource for finding specific brands that are safe and effective. Click on the links below for their recommendations:
Beach and sport sunscreens
EWG also has a great app you can use to determine if your products (more than just sunscreen!) are safe and non-toxic. All you have to do is scan the product’s barcode and the app will give you all the information you need. Check it out HERE.
You need sunlight so your body can make vitamin D, but too much sun can result in sunburn. Even with lots of sun exposure, many people still have low vitamin D levels. We sell a great vitamin D supplement at the office that can help. Pick some up at your next appointment!
If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, EWG has some great resources: