Your Sunscreen Could Be Worse For You Than The Sun

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During the summer months (and throughout the rest of the year) we’re cautioned to use sunscreen at all times in order to protect our skin from the sun’s harmful rays. The funny thing is, most of the sunscreens on the market can potentially be more harmful to our bodies than the sun is. Although sunburns and too much UV exposure are absolutely not healthy for our skin, it’s pretty ironic that the very thing we’re told to do to protect ourselves – applying generous amounts of chemical-laden sunscreen – can actually contribute to cancer and disrupt our hormonal functioning. Makes you re-think your habit of slathering on sunblock before the beach, right?
While I don’t recommend prolonged sunbathing, getting 15 to 30 minutes of rays (without sunscreen) can be very beneficial. The skin needs to be bare and sunblock-free in order to optimize production of all-important vitamin D, which is crucial for immune system function and cancer prevention. After 15-30 minutes, though, it’s important to protect yourself from burns. Make sure to wear a hat, don protective clothing, and choose a healthier, safer sunscreen — here's how.
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The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has done extensive research on safe sun exposure. Here are just a few of the chemicals to watch out for when choosing sunscreen.
Oxybenzone
This chemical is frequently used in sunscreen and has been shown to be an endocrine disrupter (it acts like estrogen in the body). It can also cause allergic reactions in some people.
Retinyl Palmitate
Studies have shown this chemical can contribute to skin tumors and lesions, yet it is frequently used in skin-care products.
Parabens
These chemicals can be found in many beauty products and are linked to increased cancer risk and hormone disruption. Parabens may be listed under names such as butylparaben, propylparaben, methylparaben, ethylparaben, polyparaben, isopropylparaben, or isobutylparaben.
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Choose a sunscreen brand with the fewest chemicals — and avoid spray or powder sunscreen, as they can make it very easy to inhale harmful substances. Here are seven of the Environmental Working Group’s top-rated safer sunscreens for 2014. These sunscreens are all considered “low-hazard” based on their list of ingredients.
Aside from using sunscreen, make sure to consume plenty of antioxidants in your diet. Blueberries, goji berries, leafy vegetables, and fish oils are particularly helpful for skin protection. Taking krill-oil supplements is a fantastic idea if you’re going out into the sun; the oil contains astaxanthin, which is great for the skin and reduces UVA damage.

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