How Safe is Your Sunscreen?

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How Safe Is Your Sunscreen? Sunscreen (sunblock) is an absolute necessity against the powerful and harmful rays of the sun. There is no way this preventative measure could be hazardous for you, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. A recent report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) claimed that of the 1,000 sunscreen products they investigated, 4 out of 5 offered poor protection from the sun or contained potentially harmful ingredients. But wait. The whole point of using sunscreen is to protect us, right? Well if you’re confused, you’re not alone. Dr. Darell Rigel, a clinical professor of dermatology at New York University stated, “Patients are confused. I’ve had patients come in and ask, ‘Am I harming myself by using [sunscreen]?’ I’ve spent a lot of time talking to people about it.” Sunscreen sports woman putting sun tan lotion before running inThe fact of the matter is, the dermatologists that evaluated the Environmental Working Group’s research were quick to shoot it down. They cited that the report lacks legitimate scientific evidence. The EWG’s biggest concern is a compound called oxybenzone—an ingredient found in the overwhelming majority of sunscreens, which helps to absorb and stabilize harmful ultra violet rays from the sun. Again, researchers say there is still no real evidence that oxybenzone is harmful to humans. In fact, the compound is commonly found in people prior to even applying sunscreen. So what’s the deal with the Environmental Working Group? They say the real danger is when oxybenzone is absorbed into the skin, and that when the sun’s rays hit the compound underneath the skin’s surface, free-radical damage can result. The thought is that this can ultimately lead to skin cancer. As previously stated, these findings are widely disputed and have not been verified. But one thing is clear. Every scientist in this field will tell you that the easiest way to avoid problems is to reapply sunscreen periodically throughout the length of your sun exposure. (Which you know you should be doing anyway!) The sunscreen on top of the skin absorbs the ultra violet rays before they penetrate your skin and ever have a chance to reach the oxybenzone. Problem solved! But if you still have your doubts and want to try an oxybenzone-free alternative, here’s a list of 4 sunscreens the EWG recommends: All Terrain AquaSport Suscreen Lotion, SPF 30 – Also recommended by Consumer Reports (June 2012) and awarded “Editor’s Pick” by Sport Diver Magazine. Alba Botanica Very Emollient, Fragrance FDark tanned body in summerree Spray Sunscreen SPF 50 – In addition to being oxybenzone-free, this product is also 100% vegetarian and was not tested on animals. Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+ – Yes, there’s one for the babies. And Thinkbaby claims their product is the first of its kind to pass Whole Foods’ Premium Care Requirements. Banana Boat Natural Reflect Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 – This dermatologist-tested sunscreen is also paraben-free and Recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation. The fact remains that the sun itself is the only undisputed danger that you need to focus on. It is absolutely imperative that you use sunscreen to prevent sunburns and skin cancer. The health hazards of sunscreen are extremely limited and have yet to be confirmed. So just keep wearing your sunscreen to promote a healthy lifestyle! Sources: skincancer.org, ewg.org

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