The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has updated their sunscreen guide for 2012. EWG evaluates and assesses the safety and efficacy of sunscreens and even offers a free app so that you can check it out on the go.
One of the most effective public education campaigns in the history of this country has been the campaign to wear sunscreen to protect against skin cancer. Unfortunately, the success of this campaign has brought some unintended side effects.
1. Vitamin D deficiency. You need vitamin D for all sorts of things including calcium absorption and bone health as well as for a strong immune system. Our skin synthesizes vitamin D from the sun’s rays but sunscreen blocks this reaction from happening. Data collected from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), USA, shows that about 70% of US children are now either vitamin D insufficient or vitamin D deficient.
2. Carcinogens in sunscreens. It seems that many of the popular brands of sunscreen are little more than toxic stews full of chemicals with questionable ability to even block the sun’s rays. Instead of preventing skin cancer, these sunscreens may actually cause cancer.
So what is a responsible person to do?
First, be sure to get enough direct sunlight regularly on bare skin to keep your vitamin D levels up, but not so much that you get a sunburn.
Then, when it’s time to choose and use a sunscreen, EWG recommends choosing a mineral-based sunscreen containing titanium or zinc and avoiding chemical-based sunscreens, especially those containing the hormone disruptor oxybenzone.
Still confused? Download the free EWG sunscreen app and always have the safest sunscreen brands at your fingertips.
Don’t forget, though, the absolute safest option to protect from too many harmful rays of the sun is still the lowest tech one: a physical clothing barrier of a hat and a shirt.