As trivial as it might sound, the best sun protection out there is about wearing hats, sunglasses and clothes. You can also rely on zinc oxide and astaxanthin in that respect. And then there is sunscreen, which you shouldn’t actually rely on. For decades, doctors and media have been recommending the use of sunscreen before going outside. Why then, one might wonder, the incidence of cancer cases has increased dramatically since people started using sunscreen? Well, all these specialists avoid talking about the specific types of sunscreen that are actually efficient for their purpose. How often have you heard recommendations on how to efficiently “use” sunscreen in order to protect yourself from skin cancer and at the same time increase levels of vitamin D, which is so important for your health and plays a vital role in preventing melanoma.
I’ve collected some wise pieces of advice from smart people here. Here it goes:
The “don’t” rules
Do not use sunscreen that only protects against UVB rays. It has already been proved that the incidence of skin melanoma has dramatically increased since the mass use of such lotions started. You see, a lot of sunscreen will protect your skin from UVB rays but will not protect it from the more dangerous light which is UVA. It turned out this way because for a while it was considered that UVB rays are more life-threatening and sunscreen was first developed to filter namely this light rather than UVA. Until now, you can find a lot of internet sources stating that the most important thing is to protect yourself against UVB light. But the latest research indicated that even though UVB light will cause suntan and skin burns much faster, the UVA rays will go deeper into your skin and stimulate the development of malignant melanoma, the most aggressive form of skin cancer.
Do not use sunscreen without first looking at the ingredients as they can bring more harm than benefit. Certain types of sunscreen use chemicals that might increase cancer risk and also they might contain destructive hormones. So the second rule is-check the ingredients or look for websites that will do it for you.
For example the Environmental Working Group (EWG). It periodically publishes the lists of products that can be trusted. So you can check this list out for trustworthy products. The brands that offer a wide spectrum, long-term protection and ingredients that are least harmful to your health score high on the list. The list is available here. And at the end of the post I listed some of the sunscreens that scored high with this organization.
Also, don’t be fooled by the high SPF labels. Try to stay in the range between 15 and 50+ SPF.
Try not to burn in the sun. Researches show that forms of cancer, other than melanoma that are easier to treat are related to long periods of sun exposure. Malignant melanoma on the other hand is more related to strong burns.
Avoid using vitamin A sunscreen. Eating vitamin A from with your food (vegetables first of all) is very good. But the benefit of applying vitamin A containing products to your skin is doubtful. Official data show that tumors and lesions develop earlier on skin covered with vitamin A containing products, which also goes by the names of Retinyl palmitate and Retinol. And these substances are the ingredients of a lot of sunscreens. Overall, avoid using any skincare or lipcare product that has retinyl palmitate, retinol or vitamin A. Retinyl palmitate can actually increase the risk of skin cancer. It’s a form of vitamin A that can accelerate the growth of tumors and lesions when exposed to sunlight. It is often added to anti-ageing products. It is efficient that way, but only as long as it is not sun-exposed.
Also, avoid products containing oxybenzone. This is synthetic estrogen that will penetrate your skin and can harm your hormonal system.
Do not use sprays. The harmful substances they might contain will get easier into your system through the airways.
The “do it” rules
Try to strengthen your immune system in fighting UVB and UVA through what you eat. Antioxidants in fruit and vegetables have protecting properties but the true “superstar” here is the carotenoid Astaxanthin which provides the krill, the salmon and the flamingo with their pink color. By taking astaxanthin you develop your inner sunscreen. This is one of the most powerful antioxidants know to men, I posted about it earlier here. This is the Astaxanthin I regularly take.
If you need bug protection as well, apply it separately before your sunscreen. The combined products are harmful.
And the icing on the cake for a beautiful tan: a good tanning oil I’m taking with me to the sea this year – Dr. Mercola, Tanning Oil.
But this oil DOES NOT PROVIDE PROTECTION. It does not contain sunscreen and will not prevent sunburn. This is to ensure your beautiful tan color and you hydrated, soft and firm skin at the end of the day.
I like the ingredients it carries: natural oils (sunflower seed oil, coconut oil, sweet almond oil, eucalyptus leaf oil), vitamins E and C, green tea extract and lanolin. It’s not too greasy, has a soft texture resembling body lotion. Easy to wash off. Perfect for outdoor tanning. And you can use it to wash off makeup.
As I promised in the beginning, a list of sunscreens that are highly scored by the The Environmental Working Group (EWG).