Sep 15, 2014

Sunscreen and Skin Care

It’s that time of year again! Sun is shining, the bikes and barbeques are out, and our skin is absorbing sunlight, making vitamin D, and giving us that long missed summer glow.  But unfortunately the tan that makes us feel and look healthier in the summer is simply not healthy at all, and although it is tempting to scrimp on the sunscreen and work on our tans, the long term affects of sun exposure can cause premature aging and lead to cancer. In fact, 1 in 6 Canadians born in 1990 are estimated to get cancer in their lifetimes, compared to 1 in 20 born in the 1960s.

We all know the importance of protecting our skin in the summer, but did you know you also need to protect yourself from common sunscreen ingredients as well?  There are a number of ingredients in sunscreen today that can cause adverse health effects and should be avoided. Here are a few examples:

Oxybenzone: Found is 40% of sunscreens. Absorbed through the skin and known to act as an estrogen in the body, and cause allergic reactions in some.  One study found that pregnant women with high quantities of oxybenzone in their bodies had lower birth weight daughters.

Retinal Palmate: A non-essential sunscreen ingredient which makes the skin more sensitive to burning for up to a week after applying. Health Canada recently considered adding a warning to all sunscreen containing this ingredient but has since decided not to proceed with these warnings.

So now what?  Well, instead of stressing yourself out trying to read fine print ingredients in the drug store, go to your local health food store and check out their natural sunscreen offerings, you’ll find a number of great alternative brands who do not use the ingredients above.  Also, be sure to check out the Environmental Working Groups Sunscreen Database to see how your current brand compares, and to help you pick the best one to buy for 2014. They also have a number of great tips to get the most out of your sunscreen and stay protected all summer long.

Wishing you a happy and healthy Summer/Autumn 2014!

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