5 Things You Need to Know About Sunscreen Before Summer

I just came across an interesting article that really opened my eyes about sunscreen. If you’ll be traveling to Mexico with us this year, or to anywhere else you’ll need protection from the sun, here are five things you need to know:

  1. According to the Environmental Working Group’s 2009 study, only one in ten sunscreens offers superior protection from the sun and is made from healthy ingredients.
  2. Sunscreens of 55-100 SPF only block 1-2% more sunburn rays than a sunscreen of 30 SPF.
  3. The sun produces three bands of ultraviolet light: UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVB is the band that causes sunburn, and the US Food and Drug Administration only holds manufacturers to regulations in regards to UVB. Although UVB light will burn your skin with prolonged exposure, the body actually needs UVB light in order to make Vitamin D. According to Elsevier, the world’s leading publisher of Medical Information, 30-50% of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D.
  4. UVB only makes up about 4% of the total ultraviolet light that enters our atmosphere. UVA is actually much more responsible for long-term negative effects cause by the sun including: skin cancer, premature skin aging, and other skin damage. Because the US government does not regulate UVA protection, most claims of UVA protection on sunscreen bottles are not credible.
  5. Many brands claiming to block both UVA and UVB, Coppertone ultraGuard for example, use a compound that is absorbed into the skin called oxybenzone, which, although organic, is believed to be a photocarcinogen. When exposed to light, photocarcinogens damage human DNA.

Scary stuff right? The good news is there are websites out there that compare and rate brands of sunscreen. The Environmental Working Group has a great site that lists the top one hundred+ brands of sunscreen. They also have a great widget on the right hand side of the page, titled “Find Safe Sunscreen,” which allows you to search for specific brands and products and view their ratings. Don’t let the sun keep you from summer fun!

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