Safe Summer Sunscreen Review
This year, have fun in the summer sun without ending up looking like a lobster or being driven to bitter madness by swarms of West-Nile carrying mosquitoes (or ticks with Lyme disease, the gift that keeps on giving). You can’t just stay indoors, because then you’re assaulted by poor indoor air quality – besides, summer is supposed to be spent outdoors! So, what to do?
Block the Burn
One in five Americans is now diagnosed with skin cancer, so there is real reason to pay heed to solar rays. Of course, the best way to stay safe is to stay in the shade or cover up (light, loose-fitting clothing works particularly well). But how sexy is that? There’s always sunscreen, which is never perfect, but it can help reduce burns and damage from UV light. Unfortunately, many sunscreens also contain undesirable chemicals. The CDC found the sunscreen component oxybenzone in 97% of Americans tested. That’s worrisome, since oxybenzone has been implicated in allergies, hormone disruption, cellular damage and low birth weight. The Environmental Working Group found oxybenzone in 600 U.S. sunscreens. In fact, when the EWG took an in-depth look at 783 sunscreens available in the U.S., it determined that only 16% of sunscreens on the market are both safe and effective! Only 125 blocked both UVA and UVB radiation, remained stable in sunlight and contained few if any ingredients that are known or suspected of being health hazards.
Luckily, safer sunscreens are becoming widely available from such natural products companies as UV Natural, California Baby, Aubrey Organics and many more. Check out these 13 great natural sunscreens. Products that serve as physical barriers are also good, because the ingredients stay on top of your skin, instead of absorbing into it.
Get Some Skin Relief
Of course, if you are burnt to a crisp, you need some relief. Aubrey Organics, among others, makes an organic, 100% aloe vera gel. What you don’t need are a bunch of petroleum fillers and synthetic preservatives like you’d find with drugstore brands.
Beat the Bugs
Sick of regular old smelly bug spray? Why not try out a natural, herbal insect repellent? The active ingredient in most conventional bug sprays, N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, or DEET, has come under fire in recent years, since it has been found to impede cognition in some animal studies. A study conducted in the late 1980s on National Park employees found that one-quarter of the subjects experienced negative health effects, including rashes, numb or burning lips, nausea, headaches, dizziness and difficulty concentrating. Plus, some people just don’t like the smell or feel of DEET repellents.
Generally, natural bug sprays don’t last as long as DEET, and they may not be quite as potent, though they are getting better all the time. Many are made from plant oils like citronella, lemongrass, peppermint and cedar wood, which are known to deter fleas, mosquitoes, ticks and biting flies. Oil of lemon eucalyptus has been listed by the CDC as effective protection against mosquitoes that may carry West Nile virus. Check out this list of 7 natural bug sprays.
Editor’s note: this is a guest post from Brian Clark Howard of The Daily Green, a source for environmental news, green lifestyle tips, blogs, features, photos and more.
Image: Patrick Dentler