Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Safest Sunscreens

**If you want to read about the top 5 sunscreens, I put the information at the bottom of the page.

If you want to hear why this melanoma survivor (me) rarely wears sunscreen, read on.

The other day my friend asked me what kind of sunscreen do I use.

You might think I dip myself in sunscreen every morning, but it's actually the opposite.

I was diagnosed with melanoma in my 20's so I am always cautious when I'm outside and I try not to put a lot of chemicals on my skin.

A few years ago, a professor told me many suncreens use chemicals to create a barrier between your skin and the sun. Your body asbsorbs those chemicals. Researchers are taking a closer to look to see how those chemicals impact the body.

I posted an earlier story about how the CDC, Centers for Disease Control also studied sunscreen ingredients found in the bloodstream.

While the jury is out, I prefer to wear sun protective clothing.

I actually bought a few cover-ups and had them tailored so you can't tell they're sun protective jackets. I wear them over my swimsuit and I usually hang out in the shade. My husband & I love to go boating so I had to find a way to make this work!

I do wear a non-chemical, mineral powder sunscreen on my face.

It has a great brush applicator so I can keep it in my purse. You can also find similar brands at Sephora.

Some of the companies that sell sun protective clothing include:

SPFstore (great cotton t-shirts)

Coolibar (affordable)

Ayana (stylish)

But what about your kids?

My good friend, former TV producer and mom of two, Eve, researched this for us.

She says this non-chemical sunscreen (California Baby) is good for wiggly faces and the same company makes a good one for the rest of them.

(They also happen to be listed as 2 of the top 10 best sunscreens. Beware, a few years ago I bought the number rated sunscreen but it turned me into a greasy, Casper the ghost! There is a fine balance here. It has to work and you can't scare your friends!)

Eve tries her best to keep their sun protective clothes and hats on their little bodies (but you know how that goes!)

Kids clothes:


Cabana Life (Target)

Now to your sunscreens:

The sunscreen screening site, put together by the Environmental Working Group (consumer advocacy group), gives detailed information about all the products and rates them based on chemical exposure and effectiveness.

The group took a closer look at about 900 sunscreens.

Only 14% out of 891 tested met their criteria for safe & effective.

Read about it here.

Search to see how your favorite sunscreen faired here.

Check out EWG's top 5 sunscreens:

1. Soleo/Atlantis Resort Organic chemical free sunscreen SPF 30+

2. Soleo/Wyland Sunscreen Organic chemical free sunscreen SPF 30+

3. Soleo Organics Sunscreen Organic chemical free sunscreen SPF 30+

4. Keys Soap Solar Rx Cosmetic Moisturizing Sunblock, SPF 30

5.California Baby Sunblock Stick Everyday/year-Round, SPF 30+

According to EWG, SPF numbers on sunscreen packages only cover UVB, the type of ray most responsible for burns.

**EWG is expected to release new sunscreen recommendations for 2009.

UVA is far less responsible for burning, but still can raise skin cancer risk, and only one sunscreen in five has effective UVA protection, Houlihan pointed out. There is no number that quantifies UVA protection, which depends on several factors. There are ingredients that protect well against UVA, but sunlight can break them down and make them ineffective if they're not formulated well.

Also, when sunscreen ingredients break down, they can penetrate the skin and trigger allergies. The ingredients are actually designed to break down; that's part of the function of absorbing energy and keeping it out of the skin. But some break down more quickly and easily than others.

The two ingredients recommended most include zinc and titanium, which don't break down in sunlight as others do, and offer longer lasting protection as a result. They also work by reflecting sunlight, rather than absorbing it.

You should look for both SPF numbers and zinc and titanium when buying suncreens.High SPF protects best against UVB. Zinc and titanium offer maximum UVA protection. Several ingredients are far less desirable although, depending on how they're blended and what else the products contain, they're not automatically undesirable. They are avobenzone, oxybenzone and padimate O, a relative of PABA, which has come into disrepute in recent years.

You can read more about how a skin cancer exam save my life by clicking here. I'd love to hear what type of sun protection works best for you.