Safer Sunscreen

Corinne Garcia, Co-op Member Owner

July 19, 2016

Let’s face it…the days of soaking up the sun for that “healthy tan” are clearly over. Fears of skin cancer, namely melanoma, have overridden most peoples’ desire for sun-kissed skin.

But in Montana, where outdoor adventures beckon in the form of snow sports and now that it’s summer, hiking, biking, kayaking and you name it, many tend to spend a lot of time in the rays doing what they love.

So, how can we have fun in the sun and make sure we properly protect ourselves?

Aside from covering up, slathering on the sunscreen is still one of the ways. And safe sunscreen has come along way from the toxic-ridden formulas of the past. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports that regular sunscreen use reduces the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma, can protect you against sunburns, which have been shown to cause melanoma, and can help to prevent sun-induced wrinkles.

Choose Carefully

However, not all sunscreen is created equal. Groups such as the EWG began questioning the safety of some chemicals and false claims that are attached to some big name brand labels.

In December 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began enforcing new sunscreen regulations banning these false claims. In response, the EWG released a "Guide to Sunscreens," ranking the safest brands along with the research and methodology that supports the guide.

Newer, Safer Formulas

Today, many new and safer sunscreens are hitting the shelves, including mineral based broad-spectrum formulas that protect the skin from UVA and UVB rays more naturally. Some of these formulas now also include antioxidant ingredients to protect against different types of free radicals, along with nourishing ingredients, such as aloe, to moisturize or heal the skin.

Check out the range of natural and safe sunscreens on the shelves in the Wellness Department at Co-op West Main (with a limited supply at Co-op Downtown) this summer and make sure you and your family are well covered.

Guide to Safe Sunscreen (Recommendations from EWG)

DO

  • Use mineral base sunscreens with either zinc oxide or avobenzone for the most natural protection.
  • Use 15 to 50 SPF broad-spectrum sunscreens that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. If it’s not broad spectrum, you may be preventing sunburn but still be getting skin damage.
  • Reapply every hour.

DON’T

  • Use spray sunscreens and powders, both of which can get into the lungs and cause uneven coverage.
  • Use SPFs over 50; the EWG discovered these products make people feel like they can safely stay in the sun longer and many don’t protect against harmful UVA rays.
  • Use products with the chemical oxybenzone, which the EWG has found to penetrate the skin and bloodstream, triggering allergies and acting as estrogen.
  • Use products with retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A, which the EWG states can “speed development of skin tumors and lesions.”
  • Use combined sunscreen and bug repellents. Because bugs are rarely out in the peak sun hours, you are likely applying more unhealthy chemical repellent than you require.