Sunscreen – Greener Choices

June 28th, 2010 · 4:09 am @   -  No Comments

The last two summers, I’ve wanted to dive in and learn a bit more about sunscreen and what greener choices are available. I purchased a couple that claimed they were green on the packaging, but honestly, hadn’t had the time to dive in and learn more. Here were the key questions on my mind based on various media stories I had heard:

  1. What SPF level is right for me?
  2. Does always applying sunscreen deprive my family of vitamin D and should you go without sometimes?
  3. What are the ingredients that should be avoided?
  4. What are the best natural brands out there?

So, I finally set aside some time to learn about the benefits and issues with various sunscreens. What I soon realized is there is an overwhelming amount of information out there!

I quickly realized I could end up with a very long post summarizing the details. So, instead, I’m providing my Top 10 Sun Protection Tips:

Tip #1 – Moderation

As with many things in life moderation is key. When it comes to sunscreen – don’t go without, but don’t obsess over it either.

Tip #2 – Back to the Basics

Remember the guidance your parents and grandparents provided – get out of the sun in the heat of the day, wear a hat and a shirt, and sit in the shade whenever possible. However, these solutions do not replace sunscreen. A t-shirt has a SPF of 3 which is little protection.

Tip #3 – SPF over 50 Doesn’t Matter

The higher the SPF, the diminishing the return. Stick with a SPF30 or 50. You don’t need to incur the cost of the higher numbers for the negligible increase in protection.

Tip #4 – Skip the Spray

While the spray sunscreen is very convenient, they tend to cost more, run out quicker, and the containers have questionable recyclability.

Tip #5 – Moderation

Make sure your sunscreen protects for both UVA and UVB rays. The UVB rays cause the skin to burn while the UVA rays cause skin aging.

Tip #6 – Ingredients to Skip

When you look at the ingredients label, ensure your sunscreen does not contain parabens (butyl-, ethyl-, methyl-, and propyl-), Benzophenone, Oxybenzone, Homosalate, preservatives, and artificial colors. Look for Zinc and/or Titanium as natural ingredients that protect from the sun’s rays.

Tip #7 – Don’t forget Sunglasses

Protecting your eyes against the sun’s rays is just as important as protecting your skin. Look for lenses with UVA protection – this fights against cataracts and retina degeneration.

Tip #8 – Find Good Eco-Friendly Sunscreens

The best resource I found for eco-friendly sunscreens was the Environmental Working group’s 2010 Sunscreen Guide. Check out this link for great information:

You can even search your current sunscreen and see its rating. Some of their most eco-friendly sunscreens include:

  • All Terrain and Badger – Find at Whole Foods
  • California Baby – Available at Target
  • Loving Naturals
  • Purple Prairie Botanicals

Tip #9 – Get Some “D”

Spend a few minutes (less than 10) here or there outside without the sunscreen. Soak up the vitamin D.

Tip #10 – Find the solution for you

Consistent with the philosophy of One Shade Greener, you need to find the sun protection plan that best fits your values and your lifestyle. Don’t let anyone convince you that there is a “right” answer out there. Find the protection solution that perfectly fits your family.

I hope you find the tips helpful. Don’t get discouraged or confused with all the information out there. Start slow, and as always, strive to be “One Shade Greener” with your sunscreen choices.

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