It’s summertime and that means I personally plan to be outside enjoying the sunshine as much as possible, over the next few months. That also means that I’ll need to protect myself from too much sun exposure. I have a personal history with skin cancer and it was likely caused by sunburns I received as a young child. Growing up in Hawaii and being fare skinned meant that I had several major sunburns by the time I was 10 years old. Although I did eventually learn to manage my sun exposure, some damage had already been done. I’ve also learned that what I do today, can make a difference in future skin cancer occurrences.
All through my 20s and 30s, I used sunscreen religiously. I lathered it on before heading outside, in addition to wearing hats, rash guards and long sleeve t-shirts. And during that time, I had several cases of skin cancer that needed to be treated with surgery and topical medicine. It wasn’t until I began my personal journey towards eliminating chemicals in my personal care products, that I began to see the occurrences of my skin cancer ease and eventually cease. The biggest change, I believe, was switching to low level toxic sunscreens – in addition to low level toxic personal care products. While I am sure some people will suggest that the two are a coincidence, it is still true that eliminating toxins in our daily life is beneficial to our health.
When it comes to sunscreen selection, there are two ways they can protect us. With chemicals or minerals. I recommend minerals. Mineral sunscreens typically include ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which create a physical barrier to protect the skin from the sun. So, if you do choose to go out in the sun, consider switching to a natural sunscreen. There is some trial and error with choosing the right sunscreen for you. I’ve had several all-natural sunscreens that left me burnt to a crisp. I’ve also found a few that work for me and my family.
The EWG grades sunscreens from a 1 being best and 10 being worst.
0-2 Low Hazard 3-6 Moderate Hazard 7-10 High Hazard
In general, the score is based on all ingredients on the product label. Ingredients and products are rated according to EWG’s Skin Deep® cosmetics database’s ingredient hazard scores, described here:
While the products we currently use are not all a 1, they do contain less chemicals than the products we previously used. If you find a product that works for you and you love, please share it with me. Have a happy and healthy summer!