By TMoM Team Member Kodia Byers
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and with warmer weather here and summer just around the corner, there’s no better time to think about how you will protect yourself and your family’s skin. Did you know that more people are diagnosed with skin cancer than all other cancers combined each year in the United States? Not only that but Skin Cancer is truly the most preventable!
Believe me, I love a good golden glowy tan just as much as the next sun-worshipping millennial goddess but let’s face it, I’m not 21 anymore and staying out in the sun without a good SPF 30 and humongous floppy hat or my trusty visor makes me cringe just thinking about it…just ask the sun spots on my forehead (and my extensive anti-aging skincare regimen…morning and night. Yes, I’m *that* girl). I’m admitting it, before the age of 30 I wanted all the sun soaking into my skin and the deepest tan I could get until I realized just how damaging the sun’s rays actually are and just how dangerous certain types of sunscreens can be. Now that I know better I can do better and have made the necessary changes in my lifestyle to protect myself and my family.
Year round I wear a tinted moisturizer with SPF 20 everyday and apply a daily defense moisturizer with SPF 25 that not only protects against UVA and UVB rays but also gives me blue light protection, which I dare say we all desperately need with more and more screen time becoming the norm. Both products of which are made of cleaner, safer ingredients. Anytime my family and I spend an extended period outside we are sure to apply (and reapply every 2 hours) sunscreen, wear hats and take breaks from the sun, as needed. My girls are pros at sunscreen application and hardly ever protest anymore and my sweet husband sees how important it is to me so he obliges without complaint.
Did you know…
~ UVA rays cause Aging and UVB rays cause burning of your skin
~ SPF (Sun Protection Factor) measures the rated ability a sunscreen has to filter UVB rays
~ SPF 30 blocks 97% of those rays
~ A common misconception is that a higher SPF gives users better protection
~ An estimated 90% of aging is contributed to sun exposure
(More sunscreen facts can be found here)
Physical vs Chemical Sunscreen
There are two types of sunscreens on the market, Physical and Chemical. Physical sunscreens main ingredients are Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide–this type of sunscreen sits on top of your skin and literally acts as a barrier, blocking the UVA and UVB rays while chemical sunscreens active ingredients include Oxybenzone, Avobenzone, Octisalate, and more that are absorbed into your skin, therefore absorbing the UVA and UVB rays along with it. A recent JAMA study found that just after one use of chemical sunscreen, ingredients were found in the bloodstream (and breastmilk) and in some cases were still there days later.
Switching to a physical sunscreen definitely took some getting used to. It does go on thicker, after all it sits on top of your skin, and some safer options don’t rub in quite as effectively as others but what’s more important: protecting your body’s largest organ or risking skin cancer for the sake of how a product looks. Don’t worry, I’ve done the research for you and have listed my favorite, most absorbable, physical sunscreens below!
There are a ton of safer sunscreen options in all price ranges. I would encourage you to check out the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) guide to Safer Sunscreen.
You can also use EWG (website or app) to check the safety of your current sunscreen (and all personal care products for that matter)–you might be surprised at how greenwashed so many brands are…I know I was! That fragrance loophole is a tricky one!
I will say that after trying several brands I have found some that are my family’s go-to’s for safer sunscreen. A few options we love are: ThinkSport, ThinkBaby (lotion + stick) and ThinkKids (this brand even lists the ingredients’ EWG ratings on their packaging), Beautycounter’s Countersun + Countersun Daily Sheer Defense for Face, Hello Bello, Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen and Badger.
Keep in mind that sunlight is incredibly key for both our physical and mental health and provides the best way to obtain Vitamin D but it’s so important to be mindful of your safety and skin damage prevention! Cheers to Safer Sunning!
For more Skin Cancer information, risk factors, treatment and resources check out skincancer.org. And here is a good resource for reading sunscreen labels.
If you have any questions about switching to safer products or the safety of current products you’re using, feel free to email me directly or drop a comment below.
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