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Friday, May 18, 2012

Summer Sunscreen Safety

I learned a valuable lesson the other day. It does not matter what you do for sun protection if you don’t use it, a sunburn can happen on a coolish (60 degree) morning if the sun is shining before 10:30am.  You see, we are a family of fair skinned people here, despite the fact that my husband and children are Cherokee. They all have plenty of freckles. I guess the Irish genes can out on top. one.  As a kids my husband and I ran free in the summer without a care and I know that I had burns so bad that my entire back would peel.
Are Sunscreens Safe?
The jury is still out on this one. the FDA pushed back the compliancy requirement for a news set of guidelines (33 years in the making) meant to urge manufacturers to more clearly label their products and toss out misleading terms like "sweat proof" and "sunblock." But even the now-delayed FDA guidelines, says EWG, fall short in some important ways.
Believe it or not sunscreen users are actually more likely to get burned." The common thought behind this is , that sunscreen gives the wearer a false sense of security. How is that? People who wear sunscreen are at a higher risk for getting burned because they are more likely to spend a longer period of time in the sun.  Additionally most people do not wear sunscreen properly, you should be apply about 2 oz. every 90 minutes. If that is the case a day at the beach or lake or ball park would mean a tube of sunscreen per family member for the day.
The latest report by EWG shows that only 25% of all sunscreens are considered safe. That means that the vast majority of sunscreens (75% of them) contain ingredients that are harmful.
Ingredients to Avoid in Sunscreen
EWG lists several ingredients to be wary of and avoid.
  • The Environmental Working Group and other toxicology experts believe that oxybenzone is linked to hormone disruption and potentially to cell damage that may lead to skin cancer
  • retinyl palminate. -Government-funded studies have found that this particular type of vitamin A may increase risk of skin cancer when used on sun-exposed skin. However, these reports have been in mice and evidence has been inconclusive for humans. says this ingredient does not make sunscreen more effective, and until definitive research is available, consumers should avoid sunscreen products containing retinyl palminate.But the EWG researchers found the initial findings of an FDA study of vitamin A's photocarcinogenic properties, meaning the possibility that it results in cancerous tumors when used on skin exposed to sunlight.
What to do?
  • Read the labels, and avoid oxybenzone and Vitamin A (or retinyl palminate).
  • Use Mineral Sun blocks sparingly
  • Cover up – Do you remember Slip. Slap, Slop? Slip on long sleeved clothing, slop on sunscreen and slap a hat.  Hats are de rigueur  for us whether gardening, at the beach, soccer fields or on a hike. We keep some in the car and some by the door. When we go off to swim at the lake or pool we are often seen wearing long sleeves or at least short sleeved cover ups.  Yes I have been known to wear a hat in the pool or lake and sunglasses too.
  • Avoid the peak hours 10-4 or stay in the shade if you can.
  • Don’t be fooled by cloudy days, I got my worst sunburn while biking around Block Island as a teen on a cloudy day. I was as pink as my shorts that day.
  • Check out the EWG list of safe sunscreens before you go out.
How do you deal with summer sun and fun?


EWG only deemed 9 percent of lip balms, 7 percent of makeups, and 9 percent of moisturizers fit for consumers. The culprits? The overuse of oxybenzone, which has been linked to hormone disruption (though the FDA doesn't have a problem with it), and a form of Vitamin A called retinyl palmitate, which has been linked with skin tumor growth


Megan @ Purple Dancing Dahlias said...

No sunscreen here, we eat plenty of foods that offer increased sun protection from the inside out, use hats, shade, and coconut oil.

The Farmer's Wife said...

I really enjoy your blog, and I get a lot out of it. I appreciate your faith (my mother was Catholic), so often missing in what people talk about these days.

Nice to know we have so much in common. I too am of Irish/Cherokee decent. My mother, full Irish (from England), my Dad Cherokee of the Lumbee tribe (NC). I learned at a young age that I don't tan, just burn and peel. Sunscreen was new when I was a child (yes, I'm that old). I never used it. Just learned to avoid, or otherwise cover up in the sun.

My dad was a commercial fisherman and I'd go out with him on the boat covered from head to toe (long pants, long-sleeve shirt, floppy hat and a towel over the back of my neck). My mother never understood it, but to this day, I appreciate my wrinkle free, cancer free, pale white skin!

Thanks again for your great blog!

Debbie said...

We don't use sunscreen. At the beginning of the season, I don't let me kids go out in the heat of the day 10am to 2pm. My kids tan easy, so after a few weeks they are very dark. They wear caps year round, even the girls. I burn easily so I don't go out in the middle of the day. I get so excited at the end of the summer because I am tan and then my kids and husband come up to me and I still look white compared to them.

Lisa - the Granola Catholic said...

ah, thanks for the kind words Farmer's Wife. I am just doing my best here and it warms my heart to connect with people like you.

Lisa - the Granola Catholic said...

Debbie, I definitely don't tan. I figured that out somewhere between 17 and 20. I even tried tanning booths back then, not so successfully. The older I have gotten the more covered up I have become. Except for the other day when I wore a top that scooped down in the front. Oops a burn happened.

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