by Shelbi Stoneback, content manager at Rodale’s
Summer’s not over yet! We still have over a month of sunshine and sultry days ahead of us. And while summertime often means forgetting our cares and enjoying the moment, there are some things we still need to worry about throughout the season. Namely: protecting our skin.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, especially in young adults and women. The American Cancer Society estimates that just this year about 73,870 new melanomas will be diagnosed in the United States, with about 9,940 people expected to die from this serious type of skin cancer.
One of the best things you can do to protect yourself from skin cancer is to limit your exposure to the sun’s UV radiation. Yes, we know, it’s time to get outside and celebrate nature! We want you do just that—but we want you to do so safely.
So while enjoying the beach, a hike, or a sporting event during the rest of the summer, always wear sunscreen and protective clothing.
But how do you choose a safe sunscreen? There are so many choices, what are the best options? One thing we all know for sure is we don’t want to put something on our bodies that’s supposed to protect us but is actually toxic and unsafe.
We’re here to help you choose wisely with these 7 tips for safe sun protection:
1. Avoid sunscreens that contain hormone-disrupting chemicals. Humans are exposed to hormone-disrupting chemicals in a lot of beauty and personal care products that are linked to issues ranging from thyroid problems to possibly cancer. They’re also in many sunscreens, and they’re not just tainting our systems, either: In 2008, scientists found that octinoxate, oxybenzone, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, and butylparaben wipe out algae associated with coral reefs. Without these algae, the reefs turn white and die.
Avoid sunscreens with these ingredients: oxybenzone, octinoxate, avobenzene, octycrylate, homosalate, and parabens (commonly listed on labels as propylparaben, isopropylparaben, butylparaben, and isobutylparaben).
My pick: Mayron’s Goods’ Sun Stuff, made with 100 percent natural and certified organic ingredients that are chemical and paraben free.
2. Avoid sunscreens made with nanoparticles. Nanoparticles are particles between 1 and 100 nanometers in size that are used in sunscreens to help them blend in without leaving the traditional white coating. However, emerging data suggests nanoparticles may enter cells and produce toxic effects when they accumulate in the body. Research also suggests titanium dioxide nanoparticles are destroying beneficial microorganisms that help keep our watersheds healthy.
3. Choose water-resistant sunscreen that offers both UVA and UVB protection.
4. Choose biodegradable and reef-safe formulas of sunscreen. Many common sunscreen ingredients (like parabens) cause damaging coral bleaching and may disturb aquatic life.
5. Choose sunscreens made from nourishing and nontoxic ingredients. Regular use of safe sunscreens helps protect your skin from damage and aging—especially if the products are made with high-quality nontoxic substances, natural minerals, and organic, moisturizing ingredients.
6. Don’t forget the top of your head, your ears, lips, or feet!
7. Wear Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) clothing and bathing suits. Defending yourself from the sun is more than just a one-bottle job. Add an extra level of protection with SPF clothing, which is woven in a unique way to help keep skin protected from harmful rays.
Shelbi Stoneback is the Rodale’s content manager, spending her days overseeing all things copy related. In sixth grade, she started a juice box recycling campaign at her elementary school and has been championing sustainability and organic living ever since. She’s a hand model, loud whistler, polar plunger, and an avid sea glass collector and treasure hunter, with the prides of her collection being a great white shark tooth fossil, a message in a bottle, and several 19th-century pot lids.