Here Comes the SUN! Get the 411 on Safe Sunscreen

It's common knowledge that protecting your skin from UV rays can prevent premature aging like fine lines, hyper pigmentation, and most importantly, it can prevent skin cancer. However, more recently we've been hearing how sunscreens can effect marine life and coral reef. In July of 2018 Hawaii became the first U.S. state to ban the sale of sunscreens containing two common sunscreen chemicals, oxybenzone and octinoxate, which many researchers worldwide have deemed potentially harmful to aquatic life.

February 21 of this year, the Food and Drug Administration announced a new proposal on sunscreen safety intended to overhaul the entire sunscreen industry. (Hooray!) Of the 16 different active ingredients in sunscreens currently on the market, the FDA deemed only 2 as being safe to use: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

While all of these strides forward is great news, until the sunscreen industry is completely overhauled, figuring out which sunscreens are both protective for us to use and gentler on the environment isn't always easy. It definitely requires some label-reading skills, so that's what I'm helping you with today.

Let's Get the Facts Straight:

* Did you know that 5 sunburns at any age increase your chance of skin cancer by 50%? That was enough to wake up this California-sun-loving-girl!

*90% of signs of aging are because of the exposure to sun.

* No need to get any SPF over 50, as the benefits max out.
SPF = Sun Protection Factor SPF is the measurement for defense from UVB rays • SPF 15 = blocks 93% of UVB rays • SPF 30 = blocks 97% of UVB rays • SPF 50 = blocks 98% of UVB rays

are the rays that lead to sunburn. On average, five sunburns at any age doubles one’s risk for melanoma.* *Skin Cancer Foundation

* UVA: UVA = Aging sun rays. While UVA is almost undetectable because these rays do not change the color of the skin, they do penetrate deeper into the dermis of the skin, where they can potentially cause free-radical damage that leads to skin aging. UVA rays are equally intense no matter the season, AND they penetrate clouds and glass.

* BLUE LIGHT: One ray that is becoming top of mind as we spend more and more time in front of computers, 
smart phones and tablets is Blue Light. Blue Light is a trendy topic in the technology realm, but, Blue Light is actually everywhere. When outside, light from the sun travels through the atmosphere. The shorter, high energy blue wavelengths that make up Blue Light, collide with the air molecules, causing blue light to scatter. This is in fact what makes the sky look blue.

* EFFECTS OF BLUE LIGHT: Its skin-aging effects can potentially be as much of a concern as those caused by UVA & UVB. The latest research suggests it may damage skin proteins and lipids. When these are damaged, signs of age like loss of skin elasticity, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation are possible.

* The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is very helpful tool to find what's safe and what's not the best. Their database is full of thousands upon thousands of products and they rate them from 1-10 on their safety (1 being safe and 10 being considered toxic/not the safest option). You can literally scan the barcode of a product on their app and it'll give you a rating if it's in the database. They also have this helpful chart to keep on hand when searching for sunscreen and finding out about the ingredients in what you use. You want to stay in the green zone, but it's really the bottom two that are your safest bets. 

What Ingredients to Avoid:

Retinyl Palmitate (a derivative of vitamin A), Parabens & Synthetic Fragranceare three other common ingredients you'll see included in conventional sunscreens and all three raise some red flags.  

Note: Retinyl palmitate is an antioxidant that is well known for anti-aging, but studies by federal government scientists indicate that it may trigger development of skin tumors and lesions when used on skin in the presence of sunlight. No thank you! In addition, other governments warn that cosmetic products that include retinol (and other derivatives of vitamin A) may contribute to unsafe amounts of vitamin A, and recommend against using vitamin A-laden cosmetics on the lips and over large portions of the body. 

I share this because safer alternatives exist, and educating and advocating for safer products is what prompts positive change in both industry and government. I never share to scare you or get all obsessed about being toxin-free. The truth is, there are safer options and with all the research on what these more harmful ingredients to do our bodies, I think we can definitely do better than those! Because while our laws are still lagging, there are companies like Beautycounter (and others!) that are trailblazing the way.

Beautycounter's Countersun Mineral Sunscreen is a water-resistant sunscreen that protects against damaging UVA, UVB and Blue Light. It's formulated with non-nano zinc and antioxidant-rich California Poppy, and its physical formulation provides an effective shield from skin-aging rays, while being gentle and pleasant feeling on the skin. This smooth, nourishing formula blends evenly onto skin with limited white residue. I also love the hint of citrus scent!

Why is it Safer? 

Beautycounter prohibits chemical SPF filters due to their high potential for skin irritation, opting instead for physical sunscreens, more commonly known as mineral sunscreen. Zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, sit on the surface of the skin and physically bounce or reflect sun’s rays away from the skin. Mineral sunscreens are great for people with sensitive skin, as well as babies and kids. 
Beautycounter never uses Octinoxate, Oxybenzone (or any other chemical sunscreen), parabens, retinol, retinyl palmitate or synthetic fragrance. 
You can check out our Never List of over 1500 ingredients we never put into products, because Beautycounter feels there are much safer options.

Be sure to come back tomorrow when I'll be sharing tips on how to pick a safer sunscreen, sharing some other (non-beautycounter) safer brands, and more!

Here's to more sunny days!
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