Thursday, August 4, 2011

Natural Sunscreen

The average person comes into contact with several personal care products every day, which translates into dozens of chemicals. The FDA has almost no ability to monitor or review these products. Here is a great summary of the myths surrounding the cosmetic industry. As a result, I've started replacing all my personal care products with safer versions.

First up to replace was sunscreen. The safest option for sunscreen is to stay out of the sun during peak hours (approx. 10 am to 4 pm) and wear a hat and tightly woven clothing. Since I just stopped using Retin A, a really hazardous skin product that makes you photosensitive, I decided some extra protection was in order. I bought these two, which get low risk rankings from the Environmental Working Group. The Badger gets a 1 and the Beyond Coastal gets a 2.

Badger SPF 30 Sunscreen ($14 for 2.9 ounces at Publix) and Beyond Coastal Natural Lip and Face SPF 30 Suncreen ($6.50 for .9 ounces on Amazon)
The active ingredients in both of these and all safer sunscreens are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which physically reflect, rather than chemically absorb, the sun rays. The inactive ingredients should be few and consist mainly of plant oils and vitamin E .

One of the other issues concerning sunscreens and all cosmetics is the use of nano particles and whether they are safe. These are tiny particles less than 100 nanometers in length that can easily pass into the bloodstream. The jury is still out on zinc oxide and titanium dioxide nano particles, so I opted for sunscreens with micronized (bigger) particles.

You can read some basic guidelines for picking safer cosmetics here and search the EWG's database and view product rankings here.  I also really like this blog, which allows you to search specific chemicals and gives you an easy to understand opinion on them. They also have a great discussion of the hazards involving sunscreen here.

1 comment:

  1. There is really nothing conclusively known about nanoparticulates properties in the human body, especially long-term effects. It's something that is becoming a really pressing area of research as everyone is seeking to capitalize on the unique properties of nanomaterials. Sadly, it'll probably be at least another 10-20 years before we know more.