Summer sun is a sweet, warm feeling, and a great way to absorb that Vitamin D. But too much of the sun leads to a sunburn. We all know how awful a sunburn feels. Scorched, burned skin is painful and uncomfortable, and it’s not good for your health either. However, many current sunscreens can contain dangerous and toxic chemicals. And who wants to slather toxic chemicals on their skin? Nope, not me.
I avoid most conventional sunscreens, for myself and my children, because recently, reports from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Consumer Reports have warned consumers against using many types of conventional sunscreens, just because the chemicals in the suncsreen are not safe.
Could sunscreen actually be harmful?
In a short answer, YES, sunscreen could actually be harmful. Unfortunately, sunscreen use has risen in past decades, as our media and doctors push the benefits of sunscreen for protecting against skin cancer and sunburn. The problem with this billion dollar a year market is that not all sunscreens are created equal and in many cases sunscreen is harmful, not helpful.
Chemical sunscreens use one or more chemicals including oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate.
I am a firm believer that if skin products contain known carcinogens, and other toxic chemicals, then you shouldn’t put it on your skin, as we know that our skin is our bodies largest organ. Especially knowing that almost all of these sunscreen chemicals raise some special concerns because of their ability to cross into skin and other tissue, and many of them have the potential to disrupt hormones, especially in children.
Lots of new research by the EWG reveals that the chemicals commonly used in sunscreen are endocrine disruptors, estrogenic and may interfere with thyroid and other hormone processes in the body.
The most common sunscreen chemical, Oxybenzone, was found in 96% of the population by a recent study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This is especially alarming since oxybenzone is considered an endocrine disruptor, can reduce sperm count in men and may contribute to endometriosis in women.
The EWG currently warns against using oxybenzone, especially on children or pregnant/breastfeeding women. And even more upsetting is the statistics of the 1,400+ sunscreens tested by the EWG, only 5% met their safety standards and over 40% were listed as potentially contributing to skin cancer, with one of the reasons being that a Vitamin A derivative, retinyl palmitate, that is often used in sunscreens was recently shown in research to actually speed up the growth of cancerous cells by 21%! This is quite scary!
Spray sunscreens may even have additional dangers, especially if inhaled. Consumer Reports warns that spray sunscreens should not be used on children, and that adults should exercise caution and make sure not to use on the face or inhale them.
So why would anyone want to slather their bodies up with these chemicals, or spray sunscreens that are dangerous when inhaled? While I do not have the answer to that question, other companies are marketing that their sunscreen alternatives found in the marketplace may be natural or organic, but they most often also have added chemicals that shouldn’t really be slathered on your body. The good news is, though, there are indeed safer alternatives, without the chemicals, especially with a great DIY homemade sunscreen!
Once again, we can call on essential oils to the rescue.
It’s really quite easy to make your own sunscreen, and even after sun soothing treatments, with just a few simple ingredients and a couple minutes.
- 4 oz chemical free, scent free Hand and Body Lotion
- 8 drops Helichrysum essential oil
- 4 drops Lavender essential oil
- 1 tablespoon zinc oxide
Mix all the ingredients together. Store in a glass jar with tight fitting lid
Apply before going into the sun. Reapply every 2 hours
This DIY Sunscreen has an SPF factor of around 20
**NOTE: This mixture is NOT water proof. Please reapply often if you are in the water**
Happy summer time and sunshine, friends.