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Sunscreen 101

sunscreen 101

Sunscreen 101

Summer is here! Are you breaking out the sunscreen for those summer days on the beach, lake, river, pool, playground? Before you spray on conventional sunscreen on that beautiful skin of yours, lets talk.

What Does Sunscreen Do?

Sunscreen is made to reflect or absorb (depending on the type of sunscreen you get) UVA/UVB rays. UVA rays are the rays that can damage your skin and cause sunburn. UVB rays are the rays that help produce the vitamin D that our body needs. UVB can still damage skin after overexposure in the sun. (Vitamin D is studied to help prevent sunburns in the first place.)

There are two types of sunscreen: mineral & chemical. Mineral sunscreens are zinc oxide & titanium dioxide. The chemical sunscreens range from oxybenzone, octinoxate, avobenzone, octocrylene, and more. The chemical sunscreens are made to literally absorb the rays, while the mineral sunscreens physically block the rays.

The Problem With Most Sunscreens

Most sunscreens you’ll find on the market are used with chemical sun blockers. Studies are showing that these chemical sunscreens are endocrine disruptors (our hormones help with the commuincation in our body, so when it’s disrupted, functions of cells and body cycles are effected), linked with skin reactions/allergies, and cause of reproductive issues.

In the International Journal of Andrology, it talks about studies that were done that found reproductive and thyroid disturbance when using these chemical sunscreens on animals. In humans, various studies were done that showed lower sperm quality/count in men that used chemical sunscreens and a higher risk for endometriosis in women that used these sunscreens as well. They also found the absorption rate high of these chemical sunscreens by urine and breast milk samples.

study done in Deutsche Lebensmittel-Rundschau Journal found sunscreen chemicals in a mother’s breast milk. These chemicals should not be exposed to infants. We want to reduce as much environmental disruptions/toxins during this stage of development.  The EWG is a great resource to use when looking up ingredients in your beauty products to see how toxic or non-toxic they are. The EWG has a wonderful graph that shows the different chemical sunscreens and how toxic they are.

Why Are We Scared Of Sunlight?

Let’s be real: Don’t be scared of the sunlight. Plants need it to live. Animals need it to live. WE need it to live. Before you slap on sunscreen early in the day & have it on all day, first get some fresh sun and air to get your daily dose of Vitamin D.

If you are fair skinned, there is good news and bad news. Good news is that you’ll only have to be out in the sun for about 15 minutes to get your daily dose of vitamin D. Bad news is that you need to be extra careful with overexposure of sunlight because you are more likely to burn.

If you have a darker skin tone, your good news and bad news is the opposite! Good news is that it takes much longer for you to burn and you can be out in the sun longer than someone with fair skin. Bad news is that it takes longer for you to get your daily dose of vitamin D from sunlight. You must be out in the sun longer. What is really cool is that if you look at various locations, countries, continents in the world, the countries that have dark skin natives are closer to the equator (which is the part of the world that gets more sun exposure than anywhere else) and fair skinned people are located further away from the equator (up north), so they aren’t subject to the amount of sunlight since they naturally can’t handle it.

Isn’t it funny how nature works and how our ancestors adapted to where they were placed on this earth? It’s also shown that people that get out in the sun more often for 10-15 minutes a day will have skin that is “used to” the sun, so it helps prevent future sunburns.

What Should You Use?

After you get some sunlight to skin and are planning to be outside longer, this is the time to start putting on sunscreen. Look for a sunscreen that uses a physical block of UV rays (which is titanium dioxide & zinc oxide) versus absorbing the UV rays (most of the conventional sunscreens out there). A study compared zinc oxide with titanium dioxide and it showed that titanium dioxide has better protection.

A study in the European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics showed that zinc oxide did not cause any safety concerns and toxic disruption of cells. (Another study that showed the absorption of mineral sunscreens are low.) With mineral sunscreens that block the rays physically, they are needed to be applied more often. It’s recommended to reapply after swimming, sweat, and every hour. While that may seem like an inconvenience, it’s worth it.

A study in the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology showed that skin cancer risks increase when these sunscreens aren’t applied properly. If you have used a mineral based sunscreen and it didn’t work, did you apply it properly and effectively?

Wearing clothes, hats, sunglasses, and shade is the best preventative measure to getting overexposure of sunlight. Wearing these garments will help reduce the use of sunscreen,   but still protect you from the sun. If you are interested in making your own sunscreen, which is really easy, I loved using Wellness Mama’s sunscreen recipe! If you want to buy a pre-made one, Badger’s is one we love!

Did you know that food also has an impact to promoting healthy skin & preventing from skin cancer? Foods that are highly inflammatory, like industrialized oils (vegetable, canola, soybean) and processed foods (foods that are made in labs) increase the risk of skin cancer. Eating a diet that is full of antioxidants that you get from vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, grass-fed/organic meats can fight free radicals that are caused by the sun. A potent antioxidant, Astaxanthin, has been studied to be one of the best antioxidants to fight UV-light damage. Some of the best sources of this antioxidants are from seafood, like wild-caught sockeye salmon, lobster, red trout, shrimp and crab.

Stay healthy friends!

In Health,

Lahana Vigliano

Avatar for Lahana Vigliano
Lahana Vigliano

Lahana Vigliano is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist and CEO of Nuvitru Wellness. She has her Bachelor's Degree in Nutrition Science and Masters Degree in Nutrition Science and Functional Medicine. She is currently pursuing her doctorate degree in Clinical Nutrition. Lahana and her team help support women who struggle with weight loss, hormonal imbalances, digestive issues, chronic fatigue, and many other lingering issues that leaves women not feeling their best. She uses food as medicine, as well as herbs and supplements when needed, to support her clients. She looks at the whole body holistically making sure women are understanding how nutrition, sleep, stress, and their environment impact their health. Connect with her on Facebook + Instagram (@nuvitruwellness).