The Dangers of Sunscreen!
Ok, it is that time of the year again: Summer! Here is when I get so upset when I go to the pool and see everyone lather their kids in sunscreen. Now, I understand we have been brainwashed about the importance of sunscreen, but I want to teach you to be wiser, safer, and healthier in your choice of sun protection. First I will explain why sunscreen is so toxic to our children and adults, second I will try to give recommendations on alternatives, and third I will give you a great website that will help you out in your choices.
First: The toxic chemicals in SunScreen and What they Do to Our Health.
If you are not away, many of the products we put on our skin will be absorbed into the body. A lot of these products have chemicals in it that are endocrine disrupters, which lead to hormone imbalances and can cause cancers. One chemical that the FDA is even investigating is OXYBENZONE. This chemical affects hormone levels and can easily alter these levels in children. The problem is, some of these chemicals mimic hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid) which lead to other organ, and disease like syndromes that cannot be explained. Also these chemicals can cause unforeseen skin allergies. Always read your sunscreen labels, and especially look at additional ingredients that have been added as chemical UV filters. Here is a list of ingredients that should be avoided and I will try give a short synopsis in why based on several studies studies:
- OXYBENZONE: Decreased testosterone levels in boys and men, shorter pregnancies in women carrying male fetuses and lower birth weight in girls. Effects the Endocrine System. Its absorption to the skin is found in breast milk which exposes newborns to this hormone altering chemical.
- OCTINOXATE: Mimic hormones (estrogen, testosterone), affects the thyroid, affects the reproductive system ( it can even effect early onset of puberty), and causes skin allergies
- HOMOSALATE: Affects estrogen, androgens and progesterone, increases the absorption rate of pesticides in the body. Studies show it increased the growth rate of breast cancer cells by 3.5 times.
- AVOBENZONE: Skin allergies. This chemical also degrades in the sun leading to a release of free radicals (which attacks cells) , increasing your risk of CANCER
- METHYLISOTHIAZOLINONE: Skin allergies, this ingredient is usually found in HYPOALLERGENIC products. Toxic to neurons in the body causing neurological disruption in the body.
- RETINYL PALMITATE: increases skin tumors and lesions in the presence of sunlight.
Second: Alternative to Sunscreen
Though everyone must think I am crazy, I do not use “commercial” sunscreen on me or my child. I understand what your dermatologist says and have studies but most of these chemicals were designed in the 50’s and no further research has been done on them until now. FDA is even starting to perk up and run studies. With the increase in cancers and children’s diseases we have to start looking at what we put on and in our body. So I want to help parent’s out on educating alternative and not get sucked into the “Commercialization” of skin care.
#1 If you need to buy sunscreen, always go with European brands. Europe has a much stricter safety guideline. I also trust European studies more than U.S. (since many studies are bought off by the companies). In current days, it is so much easier to buy a European brand through Amazon or may favorite site: EWG.org
#2 I love making my own Sunscreen. I will tell you the ingredients I include and give you little side note why.
- Shea Butter: it is a natural sunscreen protector (by research studies) but it does have a low SPF. And ladies, it is great at reducing the signs of cellulite: BONUS!!!
- Coconut oil: Natural antioxidants to prevent free radicals from the sun, and it also has a low SPF
- Aloe: It blocks sunlight out by 20%
- Lavender oil: I use this before and after sun exposure: Lavender has so many benefits:
- Anti-inflammatory (great to put on after sun exposure to reduce sunburns
- Stimulates cell regeneration and heals wounds faster
- Antioxidant (those free radicals again)
- Minimizes sunspots
- Non-Nano Zinc Oxide: prevents burns and lowers skin inflammation. (NOTE: I don’t always use zinc oxide it is still manmade and I really like natural) I will use:
- Red Raspberry Seed Oil: SPF of up to 50
- Carrot Seed Oil: SPF up to 40
These homemade sunscreens need to be applied at least every 45 minutes. I personally make sure if we are at the beach or on a boat and in the sun all day, I apply every 30-45 minute, designate every two hours out of the sun by using a hat and towel cover, and allow the skin to rest. I usually will apply straight lavender oil and aloe when I see pink and this is when you definitely want to remove yourself from the sun and let it rest. Once we get home we take a cold shower and reapply lavender oil along with Passioflora oil (passionfruit seed oil/Maracuja oil). This oil will rehydrate the skin, has vitamin C as an antioxidant from damage, and Vit A to repair the skin.
Remember these natural sunscreens have a low SPF therefore must be applied more often. And research has shown anything SPF 50 or over is pointless.
#3 WEBSITE to RESEARCH and HELP OUT WITH CHOICES
I have found EWG.org is a fantastic website. It is non profit and does rely on donations. They have done all the work for you. They provide the research, the explanation, and the list of good and bad products on the market. Many times they will offer samples of safe sunscreens for you to test out. Please visit and educate yourself!
I hope this help. My biggest concern is the safety for our children and for the adults who have struggled trough a long battle of cancer, just to be fooled to apply products that can effect their recovery. This is not just my personal opinion, but so much new research is coming out about the dangers of the synthetic chemicals that we put in our bodies and onto our bodies. Please take this article and share it with your friend in families. All I ask is to do your own research and maybe think about ways you can protect your family and loved ones from future health issues. Yes, skin cancer is real! Yet so many new studies show that it not just the sun, but how our bodies naturally protect ourselves from the sun and fight any free radical damage. Let’s help our bodies with this process. Think of it this way, how many people do you know are Vitamin D deficient. It is the “hot” diagnosis now. How do we get Vitamin D? From the Sun. Everything we put on from Sunscreen, to SPF makeup, to Sun resistant clothing reduces our exposure of Vitamin D.
As I tell my patient’s: “It’s your body, it’s your responsibility to treat it with care, and it is your responsibility to take ownership of your health. I am only here to educate and give you one extra tool in your journey of healthcare.”
Thank you for taking your time to read my article
Dr. Cherie Johnson DC, CFMP, CAc, BS
Chiropractic Acupuncture Health Center