• Talia

The sunscreen lowdown you need to know to keep your skin lookin’ marvelous. And safe too!


My sunscreen and I say "Happy & Safe Summer Days!

I live in Southern California where the sun hits the earth with impressively brutal intensity and cloudy days come to pass almost as frequently as earthquakes (translation: they are virtually nonexistent). Combine this with the fact that summer is here and well, if I don’t protect my fair skin, I will not only end up with a painful sunburn, but premature wrinkles when I am older. That vivid image of those sun damage induced wrinkles on my skin when I am circa 65 year old is more than scary enough to propel me to apply liberal amounts of sunscreen. It’s also more than enough ammunition to post this article with my favorite sunscreen recommendations.

As excited as I am to the get to the recommendations part, I don’t want to get too ahead of myself and skip over the whys regarding the harmful ingredients used in the majority of sunscreen brands. So, let’s talk dangerous chemicals for a moment.

Avoid the following ingredients like you would avoid eating chalkboard covered in carcinogens and sprinkled with gross dead bugs on top. P.S. I never claimed to have a normal mind.

Now for the list of noxious sunscreen ingredients.

Behold these dangerous chemicals lurching in sunscreens!

1) Oxybenzone~ Oxybenzone can penetrate the skin easily and is an endocrine disruptor, which alters our hormone balance! It’s also a photoallergen and can trigger allergic reactions on the skin that can cause it to turn red. Another concern is oxybenzone’s ability to create excess reactive oxygen species (a category of free radicals). These can negatively affect our cells in the following ways: increased rigidity of cell membranes, decreased activity of enzymes bound to cell membranes, abnormal activity of receptors on cell membranes, and altered permeability of cell membranes. As a result, signaling between cells is disrupted. Yikes! All this happens at a microscopic, cellular level, but it can damage our organs, leading to nasty health effects. This is one of the most health damaging sunscreen ingredient offenders. Avoid, avoid, avoid!

2) Vitamin A (Retinyl Palmitate)~ This synthetic form of vitamin A has been linked to an astonishing number of health risks, from birth defects to increased risk of cancer cell formation. A 2009 study by U.S. government scientists found that retinal palmitate may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight. Eek! Synthetic vitamin A is found in foods like fortified orange juice and milk (nondairy milk too), so the more we learn about it and are aware of the products it’s in, the better! CLICK HERE to read more about it.

3) Nanoparticles~ Nano-titanium dioxide (TiO2) and nano-zinc oxide (ZnO) are nanoparticles added to most sunscreens.  Nanoparticles are easily absorbed by our skin and the health effects, while inconclusive, are suspected to be quite harmful. I wrote about nanoparticles in my book! ~>

“Nanoparticles make the sunscreens more transparent when applied to the skin—often advertised as a bonus: “No white residue!” Yet who cares about transparency when our health is at stake? Research on nanoparticles remains inconclusive, but they are suspected to be harmful, as they can reach different parts of the body, bypass our body’s natural defense mechanisms, cross the placenta and affect a developing fetus, and cause DNA damage that results in cancer. These risks are not present with the non-nano zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, but those do not disappear when rubbed on the skin. The FDA has yet to mandate comprehensive testing on all nanoparticles currently being added to sunscreens and other cosmetics.”

4) Octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC)~ Like oxybenzone, OMC is an endocrine disrupter that easily penetrates our skin and disrupt the natural levels of our sex hormones. An Environmental Working Group report notes that OMC “produces excess reactive oxygen species that can interfere with cellular signaling, cause mutations, lead to cell death and may be implicated in cardiovascular disease.” Yikes!

5) Fragrance~ “Fragrance” is simply a word for any ingredient a cosmetics or skincare company uses to make their products smell nice. We are talkin’ ANYTHING, dangerous chemicals included. Often, fragrances contain petroleum based ingredients linked to organ toxicity and allergies.

Did you know that there are over 1800 different sunscreens available to buy?! That’s a whole lot of sunscreens to choose from. Stick with one of these brands or a brand that rates between 0-2 on Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database and you will be all set for safe play in the sunshine wherever it is you live!

My comprehensive list of recommendations:

1) Abrey Organics SPF 26-45 2) The Honest Company (online only), SPF 30 3) Seventh Generation, SPF 30 4) John Masters Organics, SPF 30 5) Badger, comes in many SPFs, it’s certified organic too! 6) Kiss My Face Natural Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 15-50 7) All Terrain AquaSport, comes in many SPFs 8) Beauty Without Cruelty Broad Spectrum Sunscreen, SPF 30 9) Beautycounter Sunscreen, SPF 30 10) Burt’s Bees Sunscreen, SPF 12) California Naturel All Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30 13) Caribbean Solutions, SPF 20-25

Now I don’t use all of these brands in real life. That would be a lot of sunscreen, even for naturally pale me! My personal fav, which I use everyday, is the Kiss My Face brand. This is likely because it’s totally safe, but also very convenient for me to purchase along with my groceries at Whole Foods Market. Any of the sunscreens on the list are safe though, so let me know in the comments which brand you like the best!!

Be maaavvvaaalous and keep that maaavvvaaalous body of yours safe, healthy & looking great too!

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