It’s summer time and that means we’re all spending a lot more time outdoors. We’re hiking, swimming, gardening, lounging, picnicking, and enjoying the warm sunshine in a million different ways before it wanes. We all know that it’s important to protect our delicate skin from the harsh rays of the sun, but choosing a sunscreen that is safe and effective can be quite challenging. Especially if you are trying to avoid many of the harmful chemicals that can be found in so many cosmetics these days.
Photo credit: Rik & Ste
Traditionally, sunscreen gets its protective power from a variety of chemicals. Many of these chemicals are hormone disruptors, and some studies have shown them to build up to toxic levels in our reproductive systems. These chemicals are absorbed through our skin, and they have been found in breast milk and are responsible for many allergic reactions. The main culprit - oxybenzone - is the most widely used chemical in sunscreens manufactured in the United States. This chemical is suspected to be linked to low birth weights and increased risks of endometriosis in women.
In more recent years, as we’ve become more concerned with the chemicals that we introduce into our homes and our bodies, there has been a surge in mineral sunscreens. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are considered to be much safer than their chemical counterparts. The risk of reactions and absorption of dangerous chemicals with these mineral-based protectants is significantly lower.
There are new, and hopefully safer, sunscreen chemicals being tested and analyzed, but, to date, your best bet is to choose a mineral-based sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun as well as harsh chemicals. To help you in your search for the option that works best for you and your family, we’ve pulled a few affordable brands that have scored highly with the EWG.
Of course, avoiding the sun completely is your best option for sunscreen. But, if your big, floppy hat and long sleeves are getting too hot, choose a chemical-free sunscreen before you venture into the sun!