The Good, The Bad, & the Unhealthy

Sunshine Means Sunscreen

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Spring is here which means longer daylight hours which means more sun. It’s all about that sunscreen, and don’t worry, you’ll still get a tan using it. Promise.

Basically, it’s a thin barrier between your skin and cancer. Maybe a little dramatic, but it’s common knowledge that people who don’t cover up end up having skin complications later in life. Plus, you should always be using it, not just during the sunniest times of the year. It’s highly encouraged to apply sunscreen year-round for a few reasons.

People assume that if it’s cloudy outside, there’s no need for screen. Actually, UV rays penetrate any cloud coverage so even if you can’t see or feel the sunshine, the UV will still get through.

Or if it’s winter, many think there’s no need for sunscreen – it’s not hot and the sun isn’t as strong. Again, not true. It may feel cold outside, but the sun’s rays don’t change in strength. They hit the earth at different angels throughout the year which affects their intensity. Just because it’s winter, doesn’t mean you can’t get sunburned.

Fact: snow reflects UV rays stronger than water does.

…Now all those bad google tans ski/snowboarders get makes a little more sense. There’s really no reason to not use sunscreen. Except when the sunscreen has ingredients you shouldn’t put on your skin.

A Ray Of Sunshine Isn’t All Happy

Before we get to the bit about what’s in sunscreen, here’s a simple explanation of what the stuff does. There are two types of ultraviolet rays (UV) you need to know about – UVA & UVB. The first is the one that results in wrinkles and making a person age faster. UVB is the one that turns you into a lobster. Both are damaging and both can be avoided by simply using sunscreen.

It only take 20 minutes in the sun with unprotected skin to burn.

It only takes 10-15 minutes for UV rays to cause DNA damage.

Via the 3rdRockEssentials Blog

Of course the amount of melanin in your skin affects how fast and how intensely you sunburn. Darker skinned individuals aren’t going to show sun damage as easily. But any UV exposure can increase skin cancer risk without causing sunburn.

There are so many other factor’s that can affect a person’s risk of skin damage too. Living at high elevation, family history, and medications can all contribute to how your skin reacts to sun rays. Everyone should protect their skin, period.

Get a sunscreen with broad spectrum protection, without it you’re only blocking UVB rays!

Also get a sunscreen with water-resistance, it lasts longer and is therefore more effective.

If you want to see sun damage in real time, or how sunscreen works to block UV rays, check out this amazing video!

I remember seeing this video for the first time a few years ago, and my jaw dropped. We’re all told to wear sunscreen, but to see it visually really drives home how important it is. …Makes me wonder what kind of damage I might have that hasn’t appeared yet.

Blocking The Good?

Most know that vitamin D is naturally produced when the skin has contact with sun rays.

So wouldn’t sunscreen be blocking the body’s ability to make vitamin D?

The simple answer? No.

There have been multiple studies that prove that regular/consistent use of sunscreen has never caused insufficient amounts of vitamin D. This is because sunscreen, even SPF 100, does not 100% block all UV rays. Another reason is the fact that it really doesn’t take much sun exposure for the body to make the vitamin. Vitamin D can also be easily obtained through your diet whether it’s from foods like salmon and eggs or dietary supplements.

No one has any reason to worry about their vitamin D levels when using sunscreen. Which means there’s (again) no reason for anyone to not wear it. A person can get all their vitamin D needs from a variety of sources without having to risk skin damage through unprotected sun exposure.

The SPF Myth

Here’s one more important thing to understand about sunscreen. All SPF is not created equal. SPF has a range of 15-100, but the effectiveness of those numbers varies up to a certain point.

If it takes 20 minutes for unprotected skin to burn, then an SPF of 15 theoretically prevents burning 15 times longer or for 5 more hours (with re-application).

An easier way to understand this is with percentages.

% of UVB rays blocked:

SPF 15 blocks 93%

SPF 30 blocks 97%

SPF 50 blocks 98%

SPF 100 blocks 99%

No sunscreen has the ability to block all UV rays, but there is a point when the effectiveness of an SPF decreases.

There’s an obvious increase in a sunscreen’s ability to block UV rays between an SPF 15 and 30. And even a jump from 30 to 50 has a decent increase of 1%. But there’s is very little difference when an SPF is doubled to 100.

Here’s the only time someone would need to be using SPF 100: if they are light-sensitive or are already at risk of/have skin cancer. Otherwise the 1% difference between 98 and 99 really isn’t necessary. For the average person, a minimum of 30 SPF is recommended by dermatologist and a 50 is even better.

What’s In It?

Sunscreen comes in two forms as a UV ray barrier: mineral or chemical. Despite the assumption that a mineral-based sunscreen is better for you, any sunscreen type can have bad ingredients.

Oxybenzone is the most notorious chemical in sunscreen for causing health issues. It is known to act as an endocrine disruptor which can lead to a lower sperm count in men and infertility in women. It’s also linked to bioaccumulation in the body, cellular level changes, mutations and even cell death.

Simply put, avoid it at all costs. Besides, there are lots of brands that offer sunscreen without oxybenzone or other negative ingredients. Things like parabens, phthalates, fragrances or chemical propellants; many are even gluten-free, vegan and cruelty free!

The biggest problem is to find a sunscreen that has the least amount of chemicals while still being effective. It as incredibly difficult to find brands that are free of other ingredients people should be wary of like avobenzone or octinoxate. They are incredibly common in all sunscreens – mineral or chemical, and what sunscreen you use becomes a matter of personal choice.

Whatever you choose will ultimately be better than using nothing at all, and should at least cover the requirements mentioned previously.

A Bona Fide Babe sunscreen should be:

30 SPF or more

Broad-spectrum for UVB & UVA protection

Water-resistant for longer lasting results

Free of Oxybenzone

Babes Sunny-Side Up

Because it is so difficult to find sunscreens that are completely chemical-free, the ones recommended in this post are up to your discretion. Weigh the pros and cons and feel free to make your own decision on what will work best for you and your lifestyle.

I personally like to use spray on sunscreens for their ease of application, and full-body coverage. I generally dislike sunscreens that leave a white/ashy coating or have a sticky, oily or thick feeling to them. And I use two sunscreens, one for my body – the other for my face.

Everyone has their own preferences, just know that the ones recommended here at least adhere to the aforementioned requirements.

Kiss My Face

I’ve been using this brand’s sunscreen for a few years now and have always loved how it feels on. It’s easy to apply, has a matte-like quality to it and is effective up to two hours without re-application.

They are vegan, cruelty-free, Oxybenzone free, Paraben free, fragrance free, Phthalate free, chemical propellant free and gluten-free.

Plus, I love that the 50 SPF has ingredients like vitamin E, Aloe Vera and cucumber.


Amazon

Supergoop!

A weird name for a great product, Supergoop offers an everyday sunscreen that is incredibly popular among users.

It’s known for being light-weight, easy to apply, non-greasy, leaves no ashy residue and is even hailed for working well with makeup.

Definitely a consistent, and fan-favorite sunscreen to try out!

Amazon

Thinksport

Probably as chemical-free and as safe as you can get with sunscreen is Thinksport.

It’s free of Avobenzone, Oxybenzone, and UV Chemical absorbers.

As well as being a non-aerosol, it’s free of Parabens, phthalates, PABA, 1,4 dioxane, gluten and it’s cruelty-free.

For all it’s health benefits, the one down-side to this sunscreen is the light white/ashy covering it leaves behind.

Amazon

Setting Sun

These are just some suggestions to help get you started. And maybe they’ll become your new go-to for sun protection.

Now the biggest challenge will be getting into the habit of applying it daily! I definitely forget to apply sunscreen sometimes, and it’s not the end of the world. But trying to make it a consistent thing will benefit anyone for the rest of their life.

Even if none of the sunscreens above work for your lifestyle or preferences you’ll now know how to choose the best sunscreen for you (with confidence). And if you’re wearing sunscreen more consistently anyway, then your skin, and health, will thank you.

Information Resources

American Cancer Society On How Melanin Affects Cancer Risk

Skin Cancer Organization On Sunscreen

American Academy of Dermatology On Sunscreen

American Academy of Dermatology On Vitamin D

Skin Cancer Foundation – Studies On Vitamin D

Skin Cancer Foundation – Sun Protection & Vitamin D

EWG – Myths With High SPF

Oxybenzone – Endocrine Disruption

EWG – Oxybenzone

EWG – Avobenzone

EWG – Octinoxate

EWG -Sunscreen Report

As always, be sure to reference the reviews of any product. Never take one person’s word as law because everyone is different! You’ll have different skin needs or desires which can be re-affirmed by other’s experiences.

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