With the warming temperatures and more time spent outside and near water, it’s important to always be taking care of your skin. Protection from the sun and sunscreen is important, but using the RIGHT sunscreen is equally so. We’ve decided to put together a list of some information and tips from EWG you should know before heading outside this summer!
What are UVA and UVB rays?
Ultraviolet B rays (UVB) is a medium-wavelength radiation. While it doesn’t penetrate below the superficial skin’s layers, this is what causes delayed tanning and burning, and increases chances of skin ageing and skin cancer.
Ultraviolet A rays (UVA) is a long-wavelength which accounts for nearly 95% of the UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface. UVA can reach deeper into the layers of the skin. This is what causes immediate tanning and sunburning, suppresses the immune system, and can be a significant cause of skin ageing, wrinkling, skin cancer and increased risk of melanoma.
Soooo… Use broad spectrum sunscreen and protect against both!
Broad spectrum sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Be sure that your sunscreen is broad spectrum for maximum protection!
The RIGHT SPF Rating
SPF measures how well your skin can be protected from UVB rays, but doesn’t necessarily protect against those UVA rays we talked about earlier; there is no SPF equivalent for UVA. A higher SPF rating leads to the common misconception that it’d be okay to spend more time in the sun. It isn’t! The FDA warns against SPF ratings above 50+ to be “inherently misleading.” While there are ingredients that can protect against UVA rays, there isn’t a standard measured time for how long you’ll be protected. Bottom line – don’t be fooled into spending an entire day in the sun based on a high SPF rating (anything above 50+), and always reapply.
Avoid potentially harmful chemicals
According to EWG, there are two main chemicals to watch out for: oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate.
Some studies suggest that Oxybenzone dissolves into the body and can disrupt hormones. Studies have also shown that oxybenzone has significantly harmful and damaging effects on reefs such as bleaching corals white. Retinyl Palmitate is a form of Vitamin A commonly added to sunscreen in hopes of anti-ageing skin. Sounds great, right? Wrong! On the contrary, studies have shown that on sun-exposed skin, retinyl palmitate may speed development of skin tumors and lesions.
Instead, choose nontoxic and go natural!
Mineral based blocks such as zinc oxide and titanium oxide as an alternative, have tons of benefits. Remember earlier when we said to be sure that your screen is blocking both UVA and UVB rays? Mineral based sunscreens naturally block both! They also don’t absorb into the skin, and instead provide immediate and longer lasting protection. When using natural mineral based sunscreen, most don’t have negative effects on the oceans as well (win-win-win!)
Our favorite natural sunscreen is from Jungle Mama Naturals, which uses all natural, non-damaging products.
Always be covered! Make sure you are reapplying sunscreen accordingly. Regardless of sunscreen, its also important to cover yourself with hats, shirts (especially UV shirts and sun protecting clothing) and sunglasses and take some time in the shade and breaks indoors as much as possible.
Check out EWG’s list of screens that meets their criteria for safe block and learn more at their site!