Anyone who knows me, knows I am a passionate advocate for melanoma research. I have spent countless hours researching sunscreen as I truly understand the need to prevent sunburn and skin cancer in general, however, many over-the-counter chemical sunscreens contain the most horrid toxins that I don’t fancy putting on my skin. We are encouraged by public health authorities to use sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, but how about all those cancer-causing chemicals we are lathering onto our skin!
Melanoma is deadly and the only way to avoid the horror that metastatic melanoma brings to the lives of patients and their families is to prevent it (and any skin cancer) in the first place. Some things I found while researching this topic that really got me fired up were:
- High SPF sunscreens contain higher concentrations of toxins, therefore its better to use a lower SPF and apply more often.
- Many toxic ingredients in chemical sunscreens are found in urine, breast milk and blood.
- A common ingredient in chemical sunscreens is oxybenzone, a known endocrine disruptor (hello wacked-out hormones!!) and is harmful to marine life.
- Other common ingredients in chemical sunscreen include petroleum-derived Homosalate, another endocrine disruptor and when spread on skin increases absorption of pesticides by over 30%. Octocrylene produces Reactive Oxygen Species (pro-oxidant) on exposure to sunlight! This special one is commonly used in baby sunscreen…WHAT THE!!!!
- If you swim, sunscreen ends up in our oceans and waterways. Up to 6,000 tonnes of sunscreen wash into coral reefs each year!
Alternatives to chemical sunscreens are available. Mineral sunscreens use zinc or titanium oxide to scatter UV rays so they bounce off the skin. I personally love EcoTan Natural Sunscreen which is zinc-based, but there are so many good options these days. A great place to buy natural sunscreens is at Nourished Life, where all products are vetted for any nasties. I have tried quite a few natural sunscreens to find the one I like. It can take time and a bit of trial and error to find the right one for you.
And don’t forget, we need sunshine on our skin for up to 20 minutes a day in order for our body to make enough vitamin D to carry out hundreds of functions. A range of illnesses are caused by a deficiency in vitamin D, including depression, osteoporosis and some cancers. Keep it safe and aim for morning sun, exposing arms and legs to soak up some safe rays of sun.