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.