So summer is almost here and with it more time for fun in the sun. While getting sun is important for our bodies to create vitamin D, there is an amount of sun that is too much. When you use sunscreen it will block the UV light that our stimulates our bodies to produce Vitamin D so it really is necessary to spend some time in the sun, unprotected. The best way to estimate how much unprotected time in the sun you need to get an adequate amount of Vitamin D is to notice how much time it takes for your skin to turn pink. Take that time and cut it in half and that is the maximum time you should spend in the sun without sunscreen. After that it is prudent to use the best sunscreen possible to reduce your risk of any cellular damage that can take place with excessive sun exposure.
To understand what is the best sunscreen to use we need to realize that the most common brands are not the best choices. Many of the most common brands use Vitamin A, which sounds good, but there is research that shows that when vitamin A is applied to skin exposed to the sun it may become a cancer causing agent. The research is not definitive but strong enough to caution us against its use. Don’t be fooled by very high SPF products, SPF 50 sunscreen blocks 98 percent of sunburn rays; SPF 100 blocks 99 percent. An SPF of 100 is not twice as protective as an SPF of 50, in fact products with and SPF of 30-50 will offer strong protection for people with even the most sensitive of skin. The active ingredients, like oxybenzone, of many of our nation’s most popular sunscreens contain ingredients that may disrupt hormones and cause skin allergies. The active ingredient of the sunscreen used in Europe is far better at providing protection without the risk that the most popular brands in the US carry. Avoid spray sunscreen’s their use typically results in less coverage and their ingredients can be inhaled and thus more easily introduced into our body.
These facts come from a great source, the Environmental Working Group’s 2015 Guide to Sunscreen. This is a great source where you can read more about the specifics regarding sunscreen safety, risks, sunscreens to avoid and the best sunscreen to purchase. Their recommendations are grounded in published evidence which is referenced here. So throw out your Coppertone and replace it with something better, albeit harder to find and more expensive. Then head out to enjoy the summer sun because in a short few months it will be gone.