Every summer it’s the same situation. It takes a good blistering sunburn to remind you that you need to be more scrupulous about using and reapplying sunscreen while out in the sun. Salt Lake’s high altitude gives us all an equally high chance for sunburns which makes sunscreen just as necessary during summer as water. With skin cancer rates as high as they are there is no excuse for not taking care of yourself or your family so now is the time to make sunscreen use a priority.
However, before you go out and buy the first bottle you see, there are some facts you need to know about sunscreen, so you can make the best decision for your family.
Know your chemicals: The most ironic thing about sunscreens is that they are made to keep us from sunburns and ultimately skin cancer, but yet they are full of chemicals that are harmful, such as oxybenzone and benzophene. These chemicals have been proven toxic to humans and can disrupt reproductive, nervous, thyroid and immune systems. Clinical scientists and researchers have even advised against using oxybenzone on children because it can easily penetrate the skin and harm their internal systems. The only problem is oxybenzone is in 60% of sunscreens found on the market today. Zinc oxide and even titanium dioxide are the safest bet for children and for adults as they are extremely efficient at protecting the skin and can be made using larger particles, instead of the popular and dangerous nanoparticles, to keep from skin absorption and inhalation.
To read more about nanoparticles and sunscreen click here.
Know your SPF’s: The SPF rating on sunscreen bottles stands for Sun Protection Factor and has a range of 15 up to 100. But the numbers can get confusing. Supposedly, the SPF number related to how long you can stay in the sun before getting burned (an SPF of 15 means 15 hrs) but this is a major simplification of the ratings and can lead to easily lead to sunburns. What you really need to know about SPF is how much of the UVB rays it blocks. These are the rays that give us sunburns as well as squamous and basal cell carcinomas. An SPF 15 blocks about 94% of the rays, while SPF 30 blocks 97% and SPF 45 blocks 98%. Guess how much the pricey SPF 50-100 versions block? Almost 99%. Anything over a SPF 45 doesn’t do much more than a lower rated SPF, so don’t bother paying more for one. Reapplying as the sun starts soaking into your skin is the most important thing to remember. If you do this, any of the SPF ratings will work just fine.
Keeping your family safe and healthy is top priority for parents and compromises with sunscreen are not acceptable. Find a physical sunscreen with zinc oxide for the best protection. But if you are suffering from massive sunscreen confusion don’t fret. There is a simple way to get sun protection without the harsh chemicals found in mass manufactured lotions without paying a hefty price. Make your own sunscreen. While there are long, detailed recipes out there to create a unique sun-shielding concoction, an easier way may be to take your favorite body lotion and add zinc oxide. Zinc oxide can be purchased online but you need gloves and safety glasses to handle the powder. Simply pour out the lotion into a separate, clean container and add zinc oxide. Mix it up until the sunscreen is well blended, then apply. This can be an easy way to stay sunburn free this summer without falling prey to the over chemicalized sunscreen options out there.