(photo by Luca Mengoni, via Wikimedia Commons)
Sunscreen is sunscreen, right?
Wrong! The quality and ingredients of your sunscreen vary widely among the vast selection at your local pharmacy. If you aren’t careful, you could purchase a sunscreen that’s actually more harmful than helpful.
Here are some general guidelines to help you choose the safest sunscreen for you and the planet:
1.) Avoid all powders or sprays, which release hazardous, microscopic particles into the atmosphere and your lungs.
2.) Avoid any screens containing:
Insect repellant, which can actually increase your UV ray absorption.
Oxybenzone, which has been linked to hormone disruption and can be damaging to our aquatic friends, causing male fish to transform into females.
Retinyl palmitate, which is believed to encourage development of tumours in humans.
Also, be wary of anything higher then SPF 50 because extra protection has not been proven. SPF 50 offers about 98% protection so any number higher is exaggerating the product’s coverage.
The Safest Sunscreen
When shopping, look for a mineral based sunscreen that contains titanium dioxide, zinc or avobenzone. Whatever brand you chose, be sure it provides both UVB and UVA protection.
Some great low-risk, eco-friendly brands include:
It’s hard to say which is the “best” sunscreen, but the Environmental Working Group allows you to search current brands to see how they place on the hazard scale. Check out their in-depth analysis here.
If you’re a desk-dweller or avoid the sun at all costs, try Affera’s Mineral Spray-On Tan, which can give you a sun-kissed look without the skin damage.
Keep in mind, sunscreen can only go so far, so next time you hit the beach, grab your favourite sombrero and biggest pair of sunnies!
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