Summer Sunscreen Safety
May 13, 2018
The bright and sunny weather is making its way across most of the country. So, now it’s time to start thinking about summer sunscreen safety. If you’re like most health-conscious people, you’re probably stuck on the same questions every summer. What can I use for sunscreen? How do I know it’s safe? Does it really work?
With so many questions, we could write a 100-page book! So bear with us as we try to give you some highlights in one little blog post. We’re going to answer some of the most asked questions regarding sunscreen in hopes of providing you with a summer that has less questions and risks, and more fun in the sun!
What is sunscreen?
At its best, sunscreen acts as a barrier between you and the ultraviolet rays (aka UV) of the sun. There are loads of brands and options all touting the trendy words of the season, so continue reading below to know what to look for.
From what we’ve seen, you basically want to avoid some of the major chemicals allowed in most cosmetics, including sunscreen, watch what SPF you are using, and be sure to reapply often!
What about chemicals?
Many sunscreen chemicals are absorbed into the body and can be measured in blood, breast milk and urine samples. The most worrisome is Oxybenzone, which is added to many of the sunscreens found in most stores. What is Oxybenzone? It’s basically a low-level estrogen. No one wants anything messing with their hormones, except their own bodies!
What SPF number do I need? Does it matter?
Sometimes people who use a higher SPF think, “I can stay in the sun all day! I’m covered with 100 SPF!” This is definitely not the case. Just because it’s a super high SPF doesn’t mean you are really that much more protected. The FDA has confirmed that a SPF higher than 50 is “inherently misleading” (FDA 2007). Properly applied SPF 50 sunscreen blocks 98 percent of UVB rays. When used correctly, sunscreen with SPF values in the range of 30 to 50 will offer adequate sunburn protection, even for people most sensitive to sunburn.
What other protection is available?
There are some options that don’t even involve sunscreen! Many garments are made with SPF protection. From infant to adulthood, you can find shirts meant to get wet and protect you from the sun. You can also grab a wide brimmed straw hat. Of course, the obvious is limiting your sun exposure. Just be sure to watch your Vitamin D levels if you are steering clear of the rays!
The Bottom Line
For overall summer sunscreen safety you want to:
- Check the ingredients list as you would for any food or supplement product.
- Grab a bottle that is free of Oxybenzone
- Go for a 30-50 SPF
Now, dive into your summer fun!
- Michael Schwartz, N.M.D.