I used to spend a LOT of time in the sun. Between competitive swimming and water polo in high school, life guarding nearly every summer as a teenager, and years of shameless sun bathing in an all-out effort to become the darkest version of myself possible, I’ve definitely had more than my fair share of sun exposure.
Looking back on my years of reckless sun worshiping, I kick myself. Not just for spending more than a healthy amount of time in the sun, but more so for not paying any attention to all of the harmful ingredients in sunscreen that I regularly applied to my body and face (thinking it was the healthy thing to do).
“But you NEED sunscreen! Without it, you’ll get skin cancer and die!”
That’s what I thought too. So I spent the majority of my life covering myself in misty clouds of chemical-laden aerosol sunscreen spray in an effort to prevent sun damage and skin cancer. Back then, I had no idea that everything I had been told about sunscreen and sun exposure was wrong.
All of us have bought into the anti-sun hype at some point or in some way. We’ve been religiously slathering on the ‘screen and spending more time indoors than ever before, yet skin cancer rates continue to skyrocket.
We live in a society that’s civilized beyond common sense. And instead of taking a reasonable and sane approach to subjects like food, medicine, and sun exposure, we rely on quick fixes and listen to what “experts” say we should do to be healthy without ever digging any deeper or figuring out what our bodies intuitively need.
Many of these quick fixes have been created with a greater interest in our bank accounts than in our health. And they just can’t compete with a good ol’ fashioned natural approach to health and wellness. Conventional sunscreen is one of the quick fixes I’m talking about. It really isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. In fact, it’s a lot worse (and more dangerous) than it’s cracked up to be. Here’s why:
- Sunlight is good for you (in moderation). Unprotected sun exposure stimulates Vitamin D production within the body. Vitamin D is a big deal. Trust me — you don’t want to be deficient. Sunscreen blocks the UVB rays that are responsible for stimulating Vitamin D production. Constant use of sunscreen = not enough Vitamin D.
- No sunburn DOES NOT = no sun damage. Sunscreen is great at blocking the UVB rays that cause us to burn (and produce cancer-fighting Vitamin D). But it does almost nothing to protect against the UVA rays that penetrate much deeper than UVB rays, damaging skin cell membranes and the DNA inside.
- There are harmful ingredients in sunscreen. It contains a number of harsh, hormone disrupting and cancer-causing ingredients that we thoughtlessly slather all over the largest organ on our body before venturing out into the sun. And ingredients like Oxybenzone, Retinyl Palmitate, and Titanium Oxide aren’t the only culprits. According to Chris Kresser, “For one sunscreen that was analyzed for aluminum concentration, a single application would provide 200mg of aluminum. (1) Another concern is that, as an oxidant, the aluminum in sunscreen might contribute to oxidative damage in the skin, increasing the risk of cancer.”
Sunshine is indeed a wonderful thing, but too much of it can also be damaging. We all have occasions that require us to spend prolonged amounts of time in the sun. And when covering up or finding shade isn’t an option, using a product that offers sun protection is definitely the way to go.
You might be confused (and rightfully so), as I just finished pointing out the dangers of conventional sunscreen. The important word here is conventional (Banana Boat, Coppertone, Bullfrog — I’m talking to you)!
But not all sunscreen is bad.
Sunscreens made from natural, non-toxic ingredients that use non-nano Zinc Oxide as the main active ingredient (we recommend Raw Elements USA!) can be a great option for days when we spend long periods of time in the sun.
Non-nano Zinc Oxide protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Non-nano (or non-micronized) means that the particles are too large to be absorbed by the skin. Because of the large particles, sunscreens with non-nano zinc oxide may leave a slight whitish film on the skin. Since the large particles sit on the skin and aren’t absorbed, they do a much better job of protecting against UVA and UVB rays than products that contain nano particles.
AND you get to spend time in the sun without compromising your health in the process!
What’s your stance on sun exposure? Do you have a favorite natural sunscreen? Let us know with a comment!