Cara O. Frank, L.OM.
I love soaking in the sun. Nothing makes me feel happier or more relaxed. I am lucky that I rarely get burned. Some sun exposure is helpful: Our bodies require sunlight in order to manufacture Vitamin D needed for calcium absorption, immune and fertility health amongst other things. Dr. Joseph Mercola is an advocate of safe sun exposure. He has a useful article that discusses how to find the sweet spot between safe sun exposure and cancer causing exposure.
If you choose to bask in the sun’s warmth, here are a few common-sense precautions to take: The skin is the largest organ of the body. It reflects our health and age. Therefor there is much concern that sun bathing can lead to an increase in skin damage and skin cancer. Excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays can increase the production of free radicals that can adversely affect the integrity of collagen in the skin. Over time, our skin becomes wrinkled, cracked, aged, and brittle. For smokers, the effects are multiplied. Research suggests that skin cancer is cumulative over a lifetime. It begins with over exposure and serious sunburns during childhood.
Recently, through social media feeds, I was alarmed to learn sun screen contains toxic chemicals. So, while I was trying to protect my family’s, I was unwittingly exposing them to endocrine disruptors and carcinogenic substances.
The Environmental Working Group has published a sound and comprehensive list of safe and unsafe sunscreens.
Here are a few helpful tips and precautions to take when you’re soaking in the summertime sun:
- Time is key - Avoid sun exposure when the sun is at its highest peak in the sky, typically from about 11:00 am - 4:00 pm.
- Gear up - Wear a hat with a wide brim, t-shirt, and sunglasses that filter ultraviolet rays.
- Drink it up - By keeping your body hydrated you can avoid dehydration and provide moisture for the skin to prevent dryness, cracking, and aging.
- Brush it off - Before you take a shower, use a dry skin brush. This can open pores and slough off dead skin, allowing your skin to breathe easily and work more efficiently. Here’s more information on dry brushing from the Six Fishes blog.
- Keep healthy - Some medications, such as tetracycline and doxycycline can make you more likely to get sunburned. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs may be able to provide an alternative to these medications, keeping you healthy, safely and naturally.
- Use sunscreen - Choose a sunscreen with a high SPF number that protects against UVA and UVB rays, for greater protection. Apply it onto your skin fifteen minutes before you go outside. Don’t forget your nose, ears, and neck. The problem is, it turns out that most of the commonly purchased sun-blocks are actually toxic to people.
The Environmental Working Group has published a sound and comprehensive list of safe and unsafe sunscreen.
Click this link for a list of the best and safest for your health. Most of these can be found in natural food stores.
Here is a list of the sunscreen hall of shame: These are the ones that are most commonly used, as they are easily available in drugstores:
The top key points are here: there is detailed info on the EWG website. Notice they all have high SPF’s. Please avoid these:
- 1.Spray sunscreens can be inhaled, and they don’t cover skin completely.
- 2.SPF values above 50+ try to trick you into believing they’ll prevent sun damage. Don’t trust them. SPF protection tops out at 30 to 50.
- 3.Oxybenzone can disrupt the hormone system.
- 4.Retinyl palmitate may trigger damage, possibly cancer.
11 Worst Spray Sunscreens
These sunscreens are aerosol sprays with SPFs above 50+ and the harmful additives oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate.
- Banana Boat Clear UltraMist Ultra Defense MAX Skin Protect Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 110
- Coppertone Sport High Performance AccuSpray Sunscreen, SPF 70
- Coppertone Sport High Performance Clear Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 100+
- CVS Clear Spray Sunscreen, SPF 100
- CVS Sheer Mist Spray Sunscreen, SPF 70
- CVS Sport Clear Spray Sunscreen, SPF 100+
- CVS Wet & Dry Sunscreen Spray, SPF 85
- Neutrogena Fresh Cooling Sunscreen Body Mist, SPF 70
- Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist Sunscreen Spray, SPF 100+
- Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist Sunscreen Spray, SPF 70
- Neutrogena Wet Skin Sunscreen Spray, SPF 85+
12 Worst Sunscreen Lotions
- These sunscreen lotions claim SPFs above 50+ and contain oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate.
- Banana Boat Sport Performance Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100
- Coppertone Sport High Performance Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100
- Coppertone Sport High Performance Sunscreen, SPF 75
- Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
- Coppertone Ultra Guard Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70+
- CVS Sport Sunstick Sunscreen, SPF 55
- CVS Sun Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 100
- CVS Sun Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 70
- Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Daily Liquid Sunscreen, SPF 70
- NO-AD Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 60
- NO-AD Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 85
- Ocean Potion Protect & Nourish Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
11 Worst Sunscreens for Kids
These terrible kid and baby sunscreens have at least three strikes against them: 1) oxybenzone, 2) retinyl palmitate and 3) SPFs above 50+. Two have a fourth strike: they’re aerosol sprays that can harm sensitive young lungs. Convenient? Yes. Good for kids? Absolutely not.
- Banana Boat Clear UltraMist Kids Max Protect & Play Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 110
- Coppertone Kids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
- Coppertone Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
- Coppertone Kids Wacky Foam Foaming Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 70+
- Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70+
- Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
- Equate Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
- Kroger Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
- Kroger Kids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
- Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Beach & Pool Sunblock Spray, SPF 70+
- Up & Up Kid’s Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
Read how they picked the Hall of Shame Sunscreens’ on their webpage
Want to try to make your own sunblock? We’ve created a Pinterest board with different recipes. While we can’t guarantee how effective these are, they are certainly nontoxic!
About Cara Frank, L.OM.
Cara Frank, L.OM. was raised by beatniks and iconoclasts in a health food store in Brooklyn NY. When she was 8 she cartwheeled 5 miles from Greenwich Village through Soho and Chinatown and across the Brooklyn Bridge. For over 30 years she has had the same crazy passion for Chinese medicine. At 17 she had her first acupuncture treatment. At 20 she enrolled in acupuncture school. 1n 1998 she went to China to study where she fell deeply in love with herbs and has never recovered.
Cara is the founder of Six Fishes Healing Arts and Six Fishes Neighborhood Acupuncture in Philadelphia where she maintains a busy acupuncture practice and acts as the head fish of the office. She is also the president of China Herb Company. You can read her full bio or schedule an appointment.