Safer Sunscreen Options

Sun exposure has become a confusing issue. First, we were told to slather on the highest SPF possible and now we are learning that SPF may not be quite so relevant. We are also learning that what we put on skin can affect our health. So, what is a sun-loving person to do?  Consult the Environmental Working Group's website. Every year they produce a guide to help you understand the pros and cons of sunscreen products using a standardized method. They explain the concerns of high SPF products and how to protect your skin while spending time outdoors. You will understand how to pick the best product for yourself and your children. If you have a history of skin cancer, melanoma, or take medications that increase your risk of sun sensitivity, talk to your healthcare provider about the most appropriate options.

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Sunscreen should be your last resort for minimizing exposure.

Focus on

  • Avoid exposing your skin during the hottest time of the day; early in the morning and later afternoon or evening reduce your risk of sun burns.
  • Wear clothes, light-weight fabrics, to protect your skin from sun exposure.
  • Find or create shade with an umbrella if you will be outdoors for long periods of time.
  • Wear sunglasses that block UV light to protect your eyes.
  • Keep in mind children are far more sensitive to the chemicals in products that are applied to their skin, especially when a product is applied frequently or daily.
  • Don't forget to stay hydrated! Your skin needs plenty of water in general and even more than usual when you are outside in warm weather.

The EWG also produces guides on skin care (personal care products), pesticides in produce, cancer prevention, and food scores. The EWG is my favorite and most trusted resource for unbiased information.