There probably isn’t a more confusing topic than that of sunscreens. It’s easy to get lost in the “UVA, UVB, SPF(sun protection factor) alphabet soup.”  And now I want you to think about sunlight from a different angle.

First and foremost, we need sunlight. We need it for life itself. The sun gives us vitamin D, one of the most important vitamins for healthy skin and bones. In fact, sunlight is the only natural source of this vitamin, and synthetic versions are just not as effective in our bodies. Covering our bodies in sunscreen essentially blocks the skin’s ability to convert sunlight into vitamin D. And, as a result, rates of osteoporosis are increasing at an alarming rate in North America.

Now, I’m not recommending that you douse yourself in baby oil and head to the beach to roast for the day. Doing so will lead to wrinkles at best and skin cancer at worst. But instead of cowering from the sun, you should aim to get at least 20 minutes of sunlight per day on your skin. Go outside early in the morning or later in the evening when the rays are not as intense. When you know you will be outside all day, stay in the shade. Don’t worry, the rays will still be able to reach you there.

When you know that you are going to be in direct sunlight for a long period of time, your choice of sunscreen should not be taken lightly. Most commercial sunscreens contain dangerous ingredients and suspected carcinogens that absorb into the skin and eventually end up in our blood and lymph systems. Sunscreen chemicals can accumulate in our organs and are known to wreak havoc with our fertility and hormone systems.

 Here is a partial list of some of the dangerous ingredients to avoid at all costs:

Diethylphthalate: this chemical may cause liver and kidney damage and reduce fertility. There is a first ever consumer alert out on phthalates. (READ ALERT)        

4-Methyl-Benzylidencamphor (4MBC)

Oxybenzone

Cotyl-Methoxy-Cinnamates (OMC)

Octyl-Dimethyl-Para-Amino-Benzoic Acid (OD-PABA)

Homosalate (HMS)          

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) and PEG derivatives. (These are delivery agents that facilitate penetration and absorption of these toxic chemicals.)               

Sunscreens also contain paraffins, petroleum, and petro-chemicals, silicons, synthetic preservatives, synthetic color and synthetic fragrances. The higher the SPF, the more chemicals are used they we are exposed to.

And this is very serious: research now shows that skin cancer may be a direct result of some of these sunscreen ingredients along with environmental toxins (pesticides etc.) accumulating in our skin cells and body fat. Prolonged sun exposure causes these toxins to mutate, and this mutation effect could very well be one of the underlying causes of skin cancer.

Please see Personal Beauty Tips for recommendations.