Safe Sunscreen Options: Part 1 of 2

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Soon I’m heading back to the Bahamas. We are going to the same location we went last year in Nassau. I love taking off to the islands in the spring, but I always worry about my skin. When I was a kid I got burned badly a few times and because of that I have to visit the dermatologist annually to check my skin. GoThinkbaby.com published an article that stated that one bad burn before the age of 16 will double your chances of skin cancer. DAMN IT. But that’s why I’m so careful with my daughter’s skin. The last two times we’ve gone on vacation I’ve gotten burned and it’s frustrating because I do my very best to be careful while in the sun. Last year we had a full-day excursion on the ocean and as a result, I burned worse than I have to date, despite reapplying sunscreen all day. I was the only one in my family to burn so I figured it must be something about me and my skin.  So now that we are heading back, I am very cautious and am feeling nervous about being in the strong sun again. The burn last year really put a damper on the enjoyment of the rest of the trip for me. My skin blistered and it was so incredibly uncomfortable. This year I’m taking every precaution to NOT BURN.

Last week I stopped at the co-op I’m apart of (I talk about it a lot but I love it and I’m so happy they joined our city) and spoke to the wellness department manager. He took the time to explain the different products to me and helped me select the best options for myself and my family. I explained my unfortunate burn from last year to him and he told me something I never  knew before… he told me that even if I’m using a sunscreen with an SPF 50, but apply it too thinly, it could be comparable to using an SPF 5! That’s crazy and horrifying and quite possibly why I fried! I am so much more diligent when applying sunscreen to my daughter. We use the natural brands, that often times leave a white coating from the zinc oxide on our skin. I don’t mind leaving the thick whiteness on my child, but I do try to rub it in thoroughly on me – I don’t want to go around looking like a clown. 🙂  That would really explain why I burned so badly… I was essentially rubbing the sunscreen OFF of myself. How horrible?!

It’s important to me to use skincare products that are safe and not full of harmful chemicals. The Environmental Working Group is a great resource for checking which products are safe and I always check their sunscreen list before I purchase any. Part of the reason I love picking items up at the co-op is because they do a lot of the research for me by not stocking brands that include a lot of the unsafe ingredients. Your skin is your largest organ and what you put on it soaks into your system.

Here is a list of ingredients that are banned from the co-op’s wellness section:

  • Synthetic preservatives: Parabens, EDTA
  • Formaldehyde donors: Urea
  • Petrochemicals: petroleum, propylene glycol
  • Ethanolamines: TEA, DEA, MEA
  • Synthetic sunscreens: Oxybenzone, Avobenzone
  • Ethoxylated ingredients: PEG/PPG
  • Anti-bacterial: Triclosan
  • Antiperspirant: aluminum Phthalates/synthetic fragrances

Many of the ingredients have a common theme of being linked to one or more types of cancer. For complete details on the hazards of these ingredients, check out Lakewind’s Body Care List of Unacceptable Ingredients.

Here’s what I decided to take with me on our trip.

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The wellness expert suggested these products as they do not leave a white film on the skin as the brands I’ve used in the past. I ended up with: Thinksport Sunscreen SPF 50+, Alba Botanica Hawaiian After-SunLotion – it  smells so good I’m almost impulsed to taste it, Super Lysine coldstick SPF 21, Aloe Gel, Mineral Fusion SPF 30 Sun Stick, which is for my face and Organic Lavendar Hydrosol because hydrosol offers a wonderful refreshing spritz for the skin and it smells beautiful.

It can be intimidating and expensive to try to figure out which lotions are the best bang for your buck, so I am going to report back after my trip and let you know what I thought about my selection. Don’t mind the hangover formula… that was an impulse buy as I was checking out and you just never know. 😉

Here are some other interesting tidbits of info I learned while speaking to the wellness manager that day… he said that though people say coconut oil is a safe sunscreen, it isn’t. It only contains 1-5% SPF and that won’t do much as you are supposed to use 15-50 SPF for skin protection. However he said that it’s a GREAT after-sun moisturizer. He also told me that many of the sunscreens for lips contain petroleum and that’s bad, the best option at the store was the cold-sore chap stick called Lysine (pictured above). I have used it a couple times since last week and love it. It even makes my lips shiny and smooth as if I’m using lip gloss and there is absolutely no white residue leftover. He also mentioned that while spray lotions are convenient, they waste a lot when spraying vs. rubbing lotion directly on the body. Though I’m a fan of spray lotions when I’m on vacation and need a quick re-application and that’s why I decided to give Goddess Garden a try.

I’ll report back with my findings! Wish me luck to not burn this year!

 

 

Many products used in this post were generously provided by Lakewinds Food Co-op.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. The EcoFeminist
    Mar 06, 2016 @ 16:52:41

    We love the Alba stuff and yeah, no such thing as SPF 50 when it comes down to it. Once it gets that high it’s a percentage point or two different. We use 25-30 and just reapply regularly and take advantage of the shade. I especially reapply in the more thin skinned areas like around the collarbone, and anywhere there are “crevices” where sweat will roll down and wash it off :). HAVE FUN!!!!!!

    Reply

  2. Trackback: Safe Sunscreen Options: Part 2 of 2 | MinnesotaFromScratch

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