Over the years and as I’ve gotten older I’ve really started to notice a change in the colour and quality of my skin. Gone are the days when I used to lather on sunscreen as a young girl, go outside in the pool for hours and come out looking like a darker, more glowing version of myself. These days, it takes me forever to get a real tan (faking it is so much quicker and healthier) and every time I’m exposed to the sun for too long, I end up asking, ‘Is that another freckle on my arm? And has my pigmentation gotten darker?’. What. The. Hell. #ageing
Nowadays, the health of my skin takes far greater priority over the colour of it. I am adamant about keeping my face out of the sun and ‘preserving my youth’ but I always try to expose my body to a few rays to ensure I am getting a healthy dose of Vitamin D. I used to think I looked better after I had baked myself to the point of looking like i’d rolled in soy sauce. These days, a nice and healthy glow usually does the trick.
With this in mind, now Melbourne is slowly (very slowly) heating up, it’s time for the majority of us to start seriously thinking about how much time we spend in the sun and what sun protection we use.
But stop right there!
Before you slather yourself in something that is meant to protect your skin, you need to think twice about what products you’re using. The active ingredients in sunscreens come in two forms – mineral and chemical. Unbeknown to most, the majority of everyday sunscreens available to us are full to the brim of toxic chemical ingredients that can harm your body in more ways than one. As i’ve said many times before, your skin is your largest organ and anything that is applied to it, whether that be sunscreen, moisturiser or makeup, is directly absorbed into your bloodstream and most of the ingredients found in a lot of products are ingredients you definitely don’t want on your skin, let alone in your body.
Let’s use an example of how easily these chemicals are absorbed. Two separate European laboratory studies conducted by Margaret Schlumpf of the University of Zurich have indicated that some of the chemicals found in sunscreens and absorbed through our skin may mimic hormones and disrupt the hormone system. Not only that, Schlumpf’s studies also found that some of the chemicals in sunscreens are evident in breast milk being fed to newborn children. And if that’s not bad enough, in 2010 she also discovered that at least one sunscreen chemical ingredient was found in over 85% of breast milk samples.
That is some scary BS.
So in my opinion the best way to lower your risk of skin cancer and all the other nasties that come with too much sun exposure is to limit your time in the sun and only use an all natural sunscreen high in mineral active ingredients and free from toxic chemicals. Natural sunscreens help protect the skin whilst at the same time nourish and moisturise it. They also often contain zinc oxide, which acts as a natural UVA and UVB barrier providing a coat on the surface of your skin.
So what are the toxic chemicals you should be looking out for? According to the EWG, these are some of the nasties you want to avoid:
Oxybenzone – a known hormone disrupter, relatively high rates of skin allergy and has been found in breast milk.
Octinoxate – hormone-like activity and behavioural, thyroid and reproductive system alterations.
Homosalate (HMS) – disrupts estrogen, androgren and progesterone and has been found in breast milk.
Octocrylene – relatively high rates of skin allergy and traces found in breast milk.
Obviously we can’t avoid every chemical that the universe throws at us, but I believe if the choice is there to make a better and healthier decision in terms of your sunscreen and sun protection, then make it. Have a look at the 2015 EWG Sunscreen Hall of Shame and find out what brands and products you should be avoiding and next time, why don’t you consider trying one of the following natural and cruelty-free products when you’re next heading into battle with the powerful Aussie sun.
Remember, don’t be afraid of getting some sunscreen-free sun. A sufficient amount of Vitamin D every day is healthy. Keep your eyes peeled in the coming week for my next post on which tans you should be using to fake that golden glow, sans the nasty chemicals.
Opinions and views my own. If you are unsure about your skin or have any concerns, please be sure to seek professional medical advice.