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Sunscreen Savvy

Sunscreen Savvy

What exactly is wrong with chemical sun protection products? They contain harmful chemicals and are made to be absorbed into the skin. Once these chemicals are absorbed, they transfer easily to other parts of the body.

“Did you see in the paper that now they’re saying some sun exposure is beneficial, after all these years of telling us to stay out of the sun?” Linda asks the group of friends she’s having tea with.

Sandy nods, “Yeah, I saw that. But you still have to use sunscreen, and I don’t like doing that. Those things are full of chemicals.”

“Right,” agrees Jasmine. “If you don’t get cancer from the sun, you might get it from the sunscreen. So what’s a girl to do?”

What exactly is wrong with chemical sun protection products? They contain harmful chemicals and are made to be absorbed into the skin. Once these chemicals are absorbed, they transfer easily to other parts of the body. Some chemical sunscreens contain ingredients that react with sunlight to form cell-damaging free radicals. Some offer only UVB protection, yet UVA rays also cause skin cancer.

Linda and her friends do have an option. Natural sunscreens provide protection from the sun without using harmful chemicals. Rather than penetrating the cells of the skin as chemical sunscreens do, they reflect the damaging UVA, B, and C rays away from the skin. The UV protection they provide is immediate–no more waiting around for half an hour after applying sunscreen.

The active sun-blocking ingredients in natural sunscreens are usually titanium dioxide, known for its high refractive index, and zinc oxide. Natural sunscreens are great for sensitive skin and safe for use on children six months or older. Many contain antioxidant plant oils, aloe vera, vitamin E, and anti-irritants like evening primrose and liquorice.

Natural sunscreens come in spray, lotion, cream, and stick form. Hypoallergenic water-resistant formulas are available.

Join Linda, Jasmine, and Sandy in finding out more about safe, effective sun protection. Drop in to your local natural health store and discuss your needs with one of their knowledgeable staff. You’re sure to find the right product for you.

Choosing and Using Sunscreen

  • Ensure that the product you choose gives full-spectrum protection.
  • Choose the right SPF (sun protection factor). SPF is a measure of how long the wearer can be in the sun without burning.
  • Really slather it on–most people don’t apply enough sunscreen for adequate protection.
  • Reapply at least every two hours, after every swim, and after sweating.
  • Wear sunscreen year-round, even when it’s cloudy. Don’t wait until you’re at the beach on a sunny summer day; the sun is still there from September to May.
  • Wear sunscreen even when you’re driving, particularly on the left side of the face and left hand and arm. Automobile windows don’t provide protection from the sun’s rays.
  • Don’t depend on sunscreen alone. Even while wearing sunscreen, avoid direct sunlight between 10 am and 3 pm. Head for the shade when you’re outside, and wear photoprotective clothing, including a wide-brimmed hat.
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