Sun Safety: It’s Not Just For Summer!

by Ms. S on December 28, 2010

Sun through the Clouds

Sun Protection Is Needed Year-Round

Although summer’s end is just around the corner, sun safety should be practiced year-round.

Even on a cloudy day, up to 80 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet rays can pass through the clouds. In addition, sand reflects 25 percent of the sun’s rays and snow reflects 80 percent of the sun’s rays.

– American Academy of Dermatology; Facts About Sunscreen

Sunscreen Should Not Be The First Line of Defense Against the Sun’s Damaging Effects

Instead, stay in the shade, wear sun protective clothing, avoid the sun’s most damaging times (10am – 3pm), and then use sunscreen as necessary.

“Sunscreens should not be the first choice for skin cancer prevention and should not be used as the sole agent for protection against the sun” – International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) 2001

Sunscreen Controversy

One of Our Top Sunscreen Choices: Badger SPF 30

During the earlier part of this summer, there was a lot of “noise” about sunscreen.

  • UV Protection: Misleading claims by sunscreen manufacturers that “broad spectrum” protection was indeed protecting against both UVB and UVA rays (many sunscreens do not protect against UVA, which may lead to premature aging and cancer)
  • Vitamin A: Vitamin A, added in many sunscreens, was found to accelerate tumor growth rates
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency has been growing and attracting a lot more media attention (our bodies produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight)
  • Concerns about chemicals in sunscreen: Certain chemicals in sunscreen may cause cancer or disrupt hormones
  • Forms of Sunscreen: Loose powders and sprays may be harmful if inhaled
  • Nanotechnology: Nanotechnology has allowed chemicals to become so small that there is debate on whether these chemicals enter the body through the skin and enter our blood and organs. Two of our recommended sunscreens contain chemicals that have been used with nanotechnology, such as titanium dioxide. Although this unknown risk exists, I found these two sunscreens — Badger’s and California Baby — to be safest current options for my family.

Overwhelming? I know… I procrastinated reading about this topic for a while.

Recommendations

Minimize the use of sunscreen with hats and sun protective clothing. Try to get the family to avoid the sun during its most harmful hours (10am – 3pm). Stay in the shade when you can. And, when using sunscreen, use creams that are made of titanium and zinc oxides. Although these sunscreens are generally more difficult to spread on the skin than traditional lotions and can leave a white layer, we find them worthwhile.


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