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Choosing the Best Sunscreen

We are a fair skinned family, so sunscreen has always been a must when we go outside, especially here in Texas!  I want to share a story with you about my own personal experience with sunscreen years ago.

When my daughters were younger, they would have terrible rashes that would come up randomly. I often noticed it in the summertime. I attributed it to a sunburn and we would lather more sunscreen on them next time they went out in the sun.

One summer, my friend Wendi, from Jubilee Health, shared with me what she was learning about sunscreen and encouraged me to think about what I was putting on my kids skin. I had never thought about it until she mentioned it. I couldn’t tell you much about the skin, how sunscreen worked, what ingredients even made up sunscreen or why I chose the ones I chose.

Our Organ, the Skin

The skin is the largest organ in the body.  It helps to keep our body the right temperature, protect our insides and allows us to have the sense of touch. A large part of your immune system is housed in our skin as well. The skin has it’s own microbial community that works to protect our bodies on a daily basis.

When something is absorbed into our skin, it reaches the bloodstream in 27 seconds.  The bloodstream carries nutrients to the cells of our body. The immune system hangs out in our skin (as well as our gut and lungs) to attack foreign particles that may enter in.  Our skin is constantly working to protect and detoxify our bodies.

The summer my friend questioned my sunscreen, I didn’t even know our skin was so important! But I didn’t let that detour me from learning.

I wanted to switch sunscreens but I didn’t even understand how they worked or what my options were. I began to ask questions and learn not only about the skin, but about sunscreen products and what my options were.

Mineral and Chemical based Sunscreens

The active ingredients in sunscreens are either mineral based or chemical based.  Each uses different mechanisms for protecting the skin in the sunlight.

The most common sunscreens contain chemical filters from these lists:

  • oxybenzone
  • avobenzone
  • octisalate
  • octocrylene
  • homosalate
  • octinoxate

The most problematic on this list is oxybenzone and it is found in nearly every chemical sunscreen on the shelf.

These chemicals have been linked to skin allergies, hormone disruptions and respiratory issues.

When I learned this, it didn’t make sense anymore to put this on my kids skin. But I couldn’t find a sunscreen without these chemicals. That is when I did some research and learned about mineral based sunscreens.

The mineral based sunscreens contain one or both of the minerals, zinc oxide and titanium oxide.  But how do those ingredients protect my skin?

I was ready to change my sunscreen, but I needed to answer some questions and understand how it all worked.

My questions got longer: What were UV rays, anyway and besides a sunburn, how are rays affecting my skin? How do chemicals or minerals help?

(My journey to becoming an Integrative Holistic Health Coach was for sure lead by my learning and question asking in my personal health journey!)

UV Rays

UV Radiation is electromagnetic (light) spectrums that reach the earth from the sun and are naked to the eye.  There are 3 UV spectrums and they are divided into UVA, UVB and UVC.  UVA and UVB reach the earth, while UVC is absorbed by the ozone and does not reach the earth. The UVA and UVB rays have been known to cause skin aging, eye damage and skin cancers as well as suppress the immune system.

Both rays penetrate the skin but UVA penetrate it more deeply and are responsible for the “tanning” that occurs when in the sun. Tanning beds emit UVA rays that get the skin tan. UVB is the chief cause for sunburns and can cause visible skin damage to the surface of the skin. 

Chemical based Sunscreens absorb the UV rays and release them as heat.  But often the chemicals themselves stay within your body long after you are out of the sun. And research has proven that the chemical based sunscreens are not able to absorb all of the UV rays penetrating the skin.

Mineral Based Sunscreen deflect the UV rays, causing a real natural block of the sun rays.  The mineral based sunscreens deflect both UVA and UVB rays.  Many of them contain essential oils such as Lavender which aids the skins protection.  Coconut Oil also aids in protecting the skin from burning.

Understanding SPF

So, that is where the SPF comes in. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. It is the factoring of how long it will take before your skin turns red or gets burned. If you choose SPF 15, that means it will prevent your skin from getting red 15 times longer than usual.

So, if your skin gets red within the first 10 minutes of exposure, than you can stay in the sun with the SPF 15 up to 150 minutes before getting red.  This is why it is recommended to reapply sunscreen many times when out in the sun or longer periods of time or when in water. 

Which one to Choose?

After learning about the skin, understanding UV and SPF’s and seeing how chemical and mineral based sunscreens work, I chose mineral based sunscreens! I have to reapply them just as other sunscreens suggest, but I am happy knowing that what I am putting on my kids skin is not hurting them on the inside.

They are not as conveniently available at all stores or in sprays, but I rather pay the extra dollar or travel to another store to protect my kids.  I mean, isn’t that why I am buying sunscreen in the first place- to protect my kids?

I felt that with mineral based sunscreen, I could be confident that I was protecting them both externally and internally.

We have used mineral based sunscreens for a few years now and it has protected our skin great! I recommend Badger Sunscreen.  You can find it at local natural stores or online at Amazon or Thrive Market.

Try it this summer and help to truly protect your kiddos in the sun!  

Visit www.ewg.org for more info about sunscreen safety

 

Applying non-toxic sunscreen to my kiddos was one of many things that lead our family down the non-toxic trail. It is a great place to start your first switch! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me here. Hope you are enjoying your summer!!

 

 

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Kimberly Stewart
Kimberly Stewart
mrskimberlystewart@gmail.com

I am a wife, mom of 4, friend and neighbor and understand how hard it can be to implement health in our busy lives! I am an Integrative Holistic Health Coach and passionate about empowering others towards wellness in their everyday lives!