With all the sweat inducing days we’ve been having, this popular summertime staple has been flying off the shelf.  We’ve all been inundated with information stating that if we don’t wear sunscreen, we’ll get cancer.  In all reality sunscreen has been around for a relatively short time; invented (or at least the idea of it) approximately in the 1930’s, the first UVA/UVB sunscreen wasn’t introduced until 1980 by Coppertone.   How did our ancestors survive? Now studies are showing that some chemicals included in the sunscreen cocktail may be linked to cancer.
So how does this magic elixir work? 
  1. The goo creates a barrier between your skin and the sun’s UVB and UVA rays, an invisible form of radiation.  UVB rays are responsible for the ever-stylish lobster look, while UVA rays with longer lasting damage, leave tale tell lines etched finely into your skin.
  2. Sunscreen also works to absorb the rays and release the extra energy off as heat, helping prevent free radical and oxidative damage. In case you’re wondering what a free radical is, it’s like a rogue molecule missing an electron that goes pirating through your body trying to steal its missing mate, thus disrupting your finely tuned system and inviting a host of diseases to enter on board. 
 Sunscreen’s ability to aid you in protecting your skin from the sun comes from a whole slew of chemicals like toxic solvents, petroleum byproducts, cancer causing fragrances and ingredients that start with methyl, ethyl and dieth etc… The issue with some of these ingredients is that they react with the sun, breaking down the chemicals and penetrating the deeper layers of your skin in fact causing free radicals which is the very thing it’s suppose to prevent.  Take in account that unless you’re using 2 milligrams per centimeter squared you’re not getting the full Sun Protection Factor promised on the label either.  You could always opt for sunscreens more opaque buddy, sun block, which uses natural ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc (neither of these ingredients break down when exposed to sun but you might end up looking like a human piece of wedding cake).
Short of blaubing yourself in the cream and resembling the marshmallow man what alternatives are there? 
Keep in mind that your body is designed to deal with moderate amounts of sun. When exposed to sunlight, your skin starts its own chemical process by upping your pigment and melanin production, allowing you to tan.  The tanner you are, the more pigment you have to protect your skin, hence why many hit the tanning beds before vacationing, I’m not recommending you do this, but building a base tan with a reasonable amount of sun exposure over time might not be a bad idea.  Even if you do wear sunscreen, common sense will go a lot further. A hat and some shade are simple and inexpensive solutions .  When a day in the sun necessitates the use of the sunscreen look for an all-natural product that is fragrant free and non-aerosol spray skips the skins defense all together and goes straight into your lungs and blood stream. You’re doing your skin and the environment a favor by going back to the basics.  My favorite is antioxidants. Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals offering the rogues a parlay by providing it’s missing electron mate so they don’t have to go bully your cells for one.  Green tea, acai berry and blueberries all offer antioxidants. Who doesn’t want to enjoy a poolside berry beverage?

14 Responses

  1. Keri Mansmann Couchoud

    Entertaining and educational. I loved the rouge explanation to free radicals and offering up solutions and alternatives. I also liked her positive spin on the sun verses our skin. I didn't feel any figure wagging going on; I appreciate that!

  2. greenskin

    Very Great article. There are always assumptions about what is good or bad for you Thank you Lindsy WONDERFUL Job

  3. Di James

    What a great article, I typically rush through articles with these headings as they all end up trying to promote a product. But this was a refreshing change, Thank you Lindsy a job very well done !

  4. Carolyn Serpe

    Great to know and thanks for sharing! At my daughter's 4 month check up in July, we were told no sunscreen till after 6 months old. We were shocked, mainly because we were caking her with it due to the extreme heat, but also to find out that our baby's pores were still very open and the Dr said that the sunscreen was being absorbed into her blood stream. He said that that could actually cause issues with her main organs. Our families through a conniption fit cause they had never heard of this before…but after reading your article, I am really glad we listened to the Doc instead of the family 🙂 thanks for helping a first time mom feel like she knows what she is doing!

    • Jenny Kuhrt Sonnleitner

      They asked how our ancestors dealt with the sun? Most wore long sleeves, long dresses, big hats, or were just inside or in the shade. Way back when, they probably had some slaves to do the outside work for them. It was also known that if you weren't tan, you held a higher caliber of living because you could stay in the shade or home while someone did the work outdoors for you. That was a great article and I agree with it. We need Vitamin D from the sun and if we put this sunblock on, we aren't getting the necessary vitamins we need.

  5. Jackie Mengel

    Great article. I appreciate Lindsy's ability to take a topic that could've been very dry, and keep it entertaining from start to finish! Good read!

  6. Jeff Kletter

    Hello Lindsy, from a person who has read over 60,000 articles, abstracts, reviews, clinical trials, test results and marketing pieces in regard to sun protection, I can say this was fun.
    I hope you don't mind if I make a few comments, as a manufacturer of mineral and chemical sun protection products.
    I agree with your statement in regard to free radicals, hence we use Vitamin E to scavenge free radicals in our sunscreens.
    I think the biggest issue I have is your statement and is all the green washing about NATURAL sunscreens. Yes, Titanium Dioxide & Zinc Oxide are mineral in nature, but they do not come small enough to put into a cream. TiO2 and ZnO have to be micronized or nano-sized, which is a chemical and physical process and they are "Inorganic". A huge pet peeve of mine is all the companies that promote "Organic" sunscreen using TiO2 and ZnO. It's a mineral, it's inorganic.
    The chemicals in sunscreen have NEVER been proven to cause the effects being stated on humans and the whopping amount that was used on 5 mice (the only published abstract, not a full blown study) to show endocrine disruption would take a human hundreds of years of daily use to have this much oxybenzone, if humans were mice.
    The best thing to do is to try and seek shelter, wear UV clothing and a sunscreen you enjoy using (just make sure it has Broad Spectrum UVA & UVB protection- Zinc oxide or Titanium Dioxide or Avobenzone or Mexoryl).
    Which leads me tanning beds, they don't use UVB (burning) rays, they use UVA (aging) rays and these have been shown to mutate the cell and can cause skin cancer.
    I hope this wasn't too dry and I hope it helps.
    Regards, Jeff

    • Lindsy Hoganson

      Nope, this is great. I tried to post an unbaised article with some basic info so people can look into for themselves and make an informed decision. That is exactly why I made no recommendations for any one specific product as I know some have an anti-free radical factor. The more info the merrier and especially from someone who does it for a living. I appreciate you taking the time to read my article.


  7. Peggy Spitellie

    Great information Lindsy! I am definitely one to enjoy a poolside beverage now and again…bring on the antioxidants!!

  8. Linda Barnes

    I particularly enjoyed your science with humor. Hard to do. I love your Green alternatives. Thanks!


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