Now that the weather is warming up and summer is upon us it’s important to be mindful of the sun. But possibly not how you think. As summer approaches you’ll start to notice sunscreen up and down the aisles in the supermarket, advertised on TV and sticking out of nappy bags. Why then, with the use of sunscreen and aftersun increasing, are the rates of skin cancer also increasing?
The truth is that our dependence on sunscreen is causing us more harm than good. Many different studies over the last few decades show that there is actually a higher risk of cancer among individuals who used the most sunscreen.
The sun itself is not dangerous. In fact it is very beneficial to us. It provides us with Vitamin D which promotes bone growth and prevents many illnesses such as breast and colon cancer, inflammation, multiple sclerosis, seasonal disorders and depression. We should all aim to get 20 minutes outside in the sun without sunscreen everyday, preferably early in the morning in hot weather.
So what is the problem with sunscreen?
When we consider that our skin is the largest organ of our body and we absorb what we put on to it, it makes sense to be mindful about what is in the products we use. However, worryingly, 75% of sunscreens are known to be toxic.
There are 2 types of sunscreen: mineral and non-mineral. Non-mineral sunscreens contain chemicals which get absorbed through the skin and into the blood stream. Some release skin-damaging free radicals, some act like oestrogen and disrupt hormones and several can cause allergic reactions and skin irritations. Oxybenzome is the most common ingredient found in non-mineral sunscreens, and it is now recommended that sunscreens that contain this are not used on children.
The other type – mineral sunscreens – contain zinc or titanium and they are designed to reflect UVA/UVB rays, rather than absorb and scatter them like non-mineral sunscreens. This means they are not absorbed into the blood stream and are not allergenic.
Spray sunscreens pose a different problem. Although these are not as popular as they were a few years ago, they are still widely used. The problem with sprays is that we breathe in the nasty chemicals, straight in to our lungs, putting children at a higher risk of allergy or asthma attacks. It is now recommended we avoid using spray sunscreens on children or, if using them, spray into your hands and then apply to the child.
Another less discussed problem with sunscreen is that it encourages people to spend extended periods of time in the very hot direct sunlight.
I remember my history teacher telling us that during WW1 the number of men who got shot in the head in the trenches went up after they were all issued with helmets. This was because the men suddenly thought they had 100% protection from bullets, when the helmets were really only designed to protect against falling debris.
Sunscreen is a modern day equivalent. Using sunscreen does not give us a free pass to sizzle in the sun for a few weeks each year on holiday, while the rest of the time we live in a mild, cloudy country. Sunscreen can only protect us to a certain point and it is therefore important that we try and live in more natural harmony with the sun.
This is why I have made the decision to not use sunscreen unless absolutely necessary, and this includes on my 1-year-old daughter.
This decision may sound almost dangerous to you, but we happily spent all summer outside last year, with her never using sunscreen once. And no, there was never a time that she was even close to burning.
We have a healthy relationship to the sun and protect ourselves by avoiding being outside in the direct sun for long periods of time, or during the middle of the day. We stay under shade and wear lightweight breathable clothes that keep us cool but also protect us. We also eat foods that naturally protect us from the sun, such as blueberries, red grapes, pumpkin seeds, almonds, asparagus, carrots, red peppers and foods that contain omega 3 fatty acids.
This year, I must confess I’m having a slightly harder time! She can now move, won’t stay under the shade, won’t keep a hat on and is happiest outside and naked. So I acknowledge, especially when it comes to our children, that there are times when sunscreen is necessary!
Therefore, knowing what we know, it is so important that the sunscreen’s we do use are not harmful to us.
The sunscreen that I use and recommend is the ABC Arbonne Baby Care Sunscreen. It is a non-chemical mineral sunscreen, formulated with non-nano zinc oxide, along with botanicals, antioxidants, minerals and natural moisturisers. It contains aloe vera, chamomile, vitamin E and is clinically allergy tested for use on sensitive skin.
To find out more see this Meet the Product fact sheet here https://embed.widencdn.net/pdf/plus/arbonne/jhstpako2r/849_uk_eng.pdf
Or to purchase your own pure, beneficial sun protectors, follow this link here at http://www.arbonne.com/Pws/LauraPierson/store/AMUK/catalog/Sun,483.aspx
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me directly.
Enjoy the sun, safely and healthily!