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Why choose a natural sunscreen

The month of June is associated with the start of summer. Along with this is the end of school year, the smell of bbq and of course the tropical aroma of sunscreen.  The message of sun safety and use of suncreen go hand and hand, but it is important to examine the difference between chemical and mineral sunscreens.
Prevention and planning for safe sun exposure is important and some of these tips are a good place to start.

  • Avoid the sun during the hottest part of the day
  • Know what the UV Index is when planning your sun exposure
  • Cover up using UV protectant clothing, sunglasses, and hats
  • Plan your outdoor activities to include spending time in the shade

Even with these preventative measures we sometime need to use sunscreen on our skin, according to the Environmental Working Group mineral sunscreens provide less health risk then the more popular chemical sunscreens.

Chemical sunscreens typically use a combination of oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, or octinoxat. Of these list only avobenzone has research supporting it for use of protection agains UVA rays (the ones that cause aging), the rest are more for targeting UVB rays (the rays that cause burns).
There have been many documented linked between these chemical sunscreen ingredients  and disruption of hormones and a toxic effects to human reproductive systems.  Part of the reason this may be a problem is because when applied to the skin chemical ingredients readily penetrate the skin, thus having an effect body wide.

The two main ingredients used for mineral based sunscreens are zinc oxide and titanium oxide. Mineral based sunscreens are not without the their drawbacks, as the size of the mineral particles can impact how readily the minerals are absorbed by the skin. In attempts to make zinc based sunscreens less white upon application, manufactures have been trying to make the particles smaller, which is not necessarily best for our health.

Take home message, read your labels for sunscreen, try to follow preventative measures whenever possible. For more tips on nutrition and supplements that can help keep your skin safe this summer season, see your Registered Naturopathic Doctor.

When choosing sunscreen visit The Environmental Working Group’s Sunscreen database, and see how your favourite sunscreen stacks up. (Products are rated on health impact (0 being the lowest and 10 being highest)

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