Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer Sun

Yay! It's finally summery here in Santa Monica... the June gloom seems to be burning away mid-morning, and it actually feels like it's supposed to in sunny Southern California!
Which brings us to today's topic: sunscreen.

There seems to always be some confusion when it comes to sunscreen. And it seems there's always some new warning or controversy surrounding sunscreen ingredients. So what to do?
Well, one great online resource is Environmental Working Group's Annual Sunscreen Guide. They rate most sunscreen brands for safety, and you can even type in your brand, and if it's in the database, you can find out what it's safety score is. You can also type in specific ingredients for more information.
I tend to steer people toward physical sunblock as opposed to chemical. Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide are minerals that sit atop the skin and physically block it's exposure to sun. I'm not too keen on chemical sunscreens (like Oxybenzone and Octyl Methoxycinnamate), which penetrate the skin, interact with the cells, and can cause things like hormonal disruptions and allergies. Scientists also recommend against using Oxybenzone products on children, and yet it is the most common active ingredient in most commercial sunscreens.
The latest data now indicates that sun protection products containing a form of Vitamin A, Retinyl Palmitate, may actually speed the development of skin tumors and lesions. A lot of sunscreens contain Vitamin A because it is an anti-oxidant that slows skin aging. Great for night creams, but not for skin exposed to sunlight.
While it's very important to be protected from sunburn, some minimal exposure to the sun is healthy. The skin actually manufactures Vitamin D in the presence of sunlight. So enjoy Summer, but do it wisely. Choose a safe, healthy sunblock, wear protective clothing, and avoid peak sunlight hours when UV rays are strongest.


  1. Thanks for the link! We've been using the Vanicream sport 35spf recently which gets a pretty good rating, but not perfect. I do like the way it rubs in though, better than most with zinc oxide and it's supposed to be good for sensitive skin (me and Isaiah!) But we'll have to look into some of the "Best Sunscreens" they recommend. It seems like just when you find the right one for you, they figure out that one of the ingredients is bad for you! Ug.

  2. let me know if you find anything great. i'm trying verdure right now which scores a 3. i like it. it feels great, and so far, no breakouts. but, i'd much rather find a 1 or 2 that's as good as "the gold"!

  3. J- you're supposed to give us recommendations! You are the expert and we are merely your minions. Help us.

    I'm thinking of trying the Epicuren X-treme cream...

  4. i have always recommended the epicuren zinc block, but i just found out it contains a form of vitamin a, which is the latest no-no. i have an email in to them to see if there are any plans to reformulate. their x-treme contains chemical sunscreen agents which i'm not a fan of. right now, i'm using verdure matte moisturizing physical sunscreen with antioxidants spf 28 -
    i'm liking it. and it scores a 3 from environmental working group. so that's my current rec.
    i should post about it, huh?

  5. So good to have found you via Lovely Morning ~ I just commented that I loved Epicuren sunscreen, and then I read your comment above ~ yikes!

    Will check out the verdure now.

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  7. here is what our epicuren rep says regarding my questions about retinyl palmitate:

    "Good News on the Retinyl Palmitate.
    Zinc acts as a physical barrier on the skin therefore not allowing the UV rays to penetrate the Skin. So the UV does not have the chance to react with the Retinyl Palmitate. In addition to that the % of retinyl palmitate is less than .25%. We are actually in the process of reformulating both the Extreme Cream and the Zinc. We stand strongly behind the Zinc and its safety and the Retinyl not having an affect on the skin."

    ~ my question would be why are they reformulating if it is safe? and you are still using a vit A derivitive and exposing the skin to the sun. I say opt for sun protection without it. and lets keep out fingers crossed that the new epicuren blocks come out soon.

    I'm still liking the verdure - it's a little whitish, but if you warm it a bit in your hands first, it's just fine. plus, it's not breaking me out!!! which happens with most spf i try. yay!

    You can find it at sun precautions on montana ave or order online :)

  8. oh no!!!! no more zinc?! i have been so out of the blog world lately but have missed you!!!!! must try the verdure.