It’s that time of year y’all! Time for fun and sun, a Bardot pic and the perennial conversation about sunscreen. The EWG has released its 2012 report, and this time they’re focusing on the many myths about sunscreen. Their piece Sunscreen Exposed: Nine Surprising Truth, calls out some assumed facts about these potions, some of which are just plain fiction. It begins:
“Sunscreens prevent sunburns, but beyond that simple fact surprisingly little is known about the safety and efficacy of these ubiquitous creams and sprays.”
It’s true. Read the piece, but here’s a quick recap:
1. There’s no conclusive proof that it prevents skin cancer.
2. In fact, there’s even some evidence that it increases risk of melonoma.
3. While the market loves super-sky-high SPFs, there’s no proof of their efficacy and even the FDA has proposed prohibiting anything over 50 for being “misleading to the consumer.” Plus which, these high numbers actually encourage people to stay out longer.
4. We need vitamin D, and some smart unprotected sun exposure is the easiest way to get it.
5. Retinal palmitate, a type of vitamin A often used in sunscreens, is suspected of increasing the speed of skin cancer development.
6. Because standards around UVA are not stringent, many sunscreens barely protect skin from free radical damage (also known as aging).
7. Chemical sunscreens contain hormone disruptors, among other nasty ingredients, and many mineral versions now contain nanoparticles. Boo.
8. Europe’s ahead of the game on sunscreens. No surprises there.
9. The FDA has delayed the implementation of their new stricter language laws on sunscreen. That means another summer without them.
So now to you: Do you use sunscreen? Have you found a great one that’s clean? Where do you stand on the sunscreen spectrum.
I for one almost never use the stuff, preferring to limit my exposure. This past Saturday for example I sat by a pool for a little bit, taking in the rays, and then I put on a hat and moved into the shade. I know, most dermatologists would start crying if I told them that story, and I’m certainly not making recommendations: sun exposure is different for everyone. Siobhan, who has sun-sensitive Irish skin, uses sunscreen regularly and has reviewed many (that series has one of my faves in it too).
In general we encourage a logic approach to the sun: know your skin, respect the sun, and don’t fall for too much dogma on either side of the debate.
Happy memorial day, les amies! What are you going to get up to? (See above for my plans.) As you prepare for a weekend of frisbee and barbecue, may we remind you, as always, that sunscreen is a good idea for all outdoor activity, and that chemical sunscreen is the devil and should be avoided at all costs, no exceptions? And if you don’t believe us, you can ask Gisele.
If you are new to this stuff, or need a refresher, please revisit our piece called “How Safe Is Sunscreen?” which took the nets by storm last summer (just kidding, but it was a hit!). And…
If you aren’t compelled to avoid chemical sunscreens for your own health and the health of your children—whether they’re born or still in the ideas stage—then do it for the planet: Coral reefs, which are home to countless species of aquatic life and are a crucial piece of ocean biodiversity puzzle, are imperiled by the chemicals in sunscreen, which wash off our bodies when we play in the water, and down the drain when we shower. No, you can’t see the damage happening, but trust us: It is.
Back to the topic at hand: A while ago we asked you if you wear sunscreen every day, and the comments (which are still coming in!) were amazing. We also told you about some screens we love for face, and now the EWG has released its annual guide to their top sunscreens in terms of their low toxicity and effectiveness as a broad spectrum sunscreen. What they don’t cover—and bless their hearts, they can’t do it all!—is how cosmetically desirable these products are, so that’s why we’re counting on you guys. Since we’re just two people, we can’t try them all, either!
You can find the complete EWG list here, and remember the list is alphabetical, not in order of their preference. We recommend mineral sunscreens, and advise against non-mineral ones.
Let us know which ones you’ve tried, and what you think about them, in the comments!
Finding any excuse to run a picture of Brigitte, via