The Lowdown on Sunscreen: What Everyone Needs to Know

This has nothing to do with gluten, but it does have to do with health, and I’m all about that, so I thought I’d share.

It’s getting warm and summer is around the corner. That means most of us will be spending more time outside. That also means that most of us will be slathering on the sunblock to avoid burns and decrease our risk of skin cancer. But did you know that studies have shown that most sunscreens actually increase your risk of cancer?

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) press release from last May, only 8% of sunblocks were recommended (those with a 0-2 rating) by the EWG. That’s pretty sad. According to Fuck Cancer (a great organization, with a…memorable name with information on how to prevent cancer and to catch it early and kick its ass before it’s too late. Don’t be put off by its name.), that number has doubled in the last year and now 16% are recommended. That’s great news! But the vast majority of sunscreens out there are still full of nasty stuff and doing more harm than good perhaps, so educate yourself and choose wisely. “The upshot is that there are no mandatory requirements about what sunscreen manufacturers can (and can’t) put into their products, and what kind of claims they can print on the label” (from the EWG FAQ page, under “Doesn’t the government ensure that sunscreen protects us?”).

Read about9 surprising truths about sunscreeen, such as “the common sunscreen ingredient vitamin A may speed the development of cancer.” Scary stuff.

But hey, don’t freak out! The EWG will give you all the information you need-from letting you know which sunscreens are the worst, to a list of those that are the best. This way, you don’t have to worry about anything while you’re decompressing here:

Here are the best, according to EWG:
Best moisturizers with SPF.
Best lip balms with SPF.
Best SPF Makeup.
Best Beach and Sport Sunscreens.

(You can also search in alphabetical order, by rating, by name or brand, etc. It’s very helpful and easy to use.)

Here is “the hall of shame”-most of them are sunblocks for babies. Scary. Don’t worry, though, California Baby makes a fragrance free, SPF 30+ sunblock lotion for babies. I have no experience with it, but I plan on getting some for my bestie who just found out she is pregnant again (2nd time around). So exciting! Anyway. I’ve seen California Baby products at Target, so they should be relatively accessible, even if you don’t shop online or at health food stores. Even this Johnson & Johnson sunscreeen for babies is in the 0-2 category! You should definitely be able to find that pretty much anywhere sunblock is sold.

There is a really helpful and informative list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) as well as the full report. The ratings for these products, and many others, are compiled in the Skin Deep database, also from the EWG. I highly recommend checking it out and seeing where your beauty products stand. It can be sort of scary, and disappointing, so be prepared.

My personal favorite sunscreen is made by Super Salve Co, which is unfortunately not listed, yet again, this year. :( It comes in a little tin, is a beautiful green color, and smells delicious. It’s completely natural; even the active protective ingredient is made from natural plant oils. Pretty amazing stuff right there. It doesn’t make my skin break out either. I’d really like to know how it performs in terms of UVB and UVA ray blockage. I’m not concerned about it’s rating, because I’m positive it would be in the 0-2 range.

I’m also a huge fan of Badger brand products, which receive low (recommended) ratings from the EWG. I tried their SPF30 sunblock a couple years ago and though it gives the skin a bit of an iridescent sheen from the zinc oxide, it’s nothing all that noticeable and it’s worth it for sunblock that won’t harm you! It was really thick, though, which I did not like; it was hard to squeeze out of the tube. I’m going to give it another try this summer, as I’ll need to be sunblocking like crazy since I’ll be working outside all day. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’m actually going to try as many of the “1” rated sunblocks as possible. Hopefully I can get some (free) samples, so I don’t break the bank trying to try them all.

Oh, and while you’re at it, do yourself a favor and avoid any insect repellents with DEET in them, especially since the CDC has just officially declared lemon eucalyptus oil to be just as effective as DEET.

I’m not sure about the one they recommend. Badger Anti-Bug Shake and Spray Insect Repellent is what I’ve been using to keep the mosquitoes at bay while I sleep. (I’m apparently immune to their saliva, which I’m sure you know makes most people itch like crazy, but they do still bite me-and that’s gross.)

Enjoy the warm weather (now, or when it finally gets around to showing up where you are) and stay safe from the sun and your sunscreen!

I’d like to enjoy my warm weather here:

P.S. The best thing you can do still is to cover up. Bust out those floppy sun hats and giant beach umbrellas, ladies!


About thesurlyhedgehog

Lover of food, flowers, and felines. Movement nerd. Herbalism apprentice. Hiking enthusiast.

3 responses »

  1. That’s awesome! I’ve had my same fav pair of leather flip flops for like 10 years! ;)

  2. Oops, wrong post, dang iPad! ;) well I was going to comment on this one too. Thanks for the links. I’m pretty knowledgable about this subject since I have a very naturopathic mom and 2 (out of 4) fair skinned children. I think moderation is important too. You need vitamin K. Also, did you know that most clothes don’t protect you against UV rays? There are detergents that turn clothes into an actual protective layer.

    I didn’t know about the lemon eucalyptus as an insect repellent! That’s great! We use tea tree oil, I’ll bet lemon eucalyptus smells better. ;)

    • glutenfreeshiksa

      Haha, it’s ok. I knew what you were talking about. What kind of flip flops do you have that have lasted so long??

      I’ve come across clothing on REI that says it’s sun protective, and recently a friend mentioned that they had been sunburned through their jeans. I don’t understand how that works, though. Every time I’ve ever gotten sunburned (which has been more times than I care to admit, because I’m so, so white), the areas that were covered are still pale as a ghost. I made sure to buy the sun protective stuff, just in case, for my job this summer, which will be outdoors.

      Thanks for commenting!


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