Sunscreen- Here’s Some Safe Options

Studies show most people use too little or the wrong kind of sunscreen or suntan lotion.

An spf 30 sunscreen rating sounds good but it may not be as good for your health as it sounds.  I compiled some lists of safe options for sun protection, whether you wear sunscreen or prefer other alternatives.

First, let’s look at the easiest option for you. Use the Environmental Working Group’s sunscreen database.

 According to several sites I searched through, the FDA is not updating its sunscreen standards until sometime in 2012.  The EWG tested over 700 sunscreens and gave them a score of 0 to 10, 0 to 2 being the safest ones recommended by the EWG.  The EWG’s study found that 60% contain oxybenzone a potentially harmful hormone-disrupting compound that penetrates the skin and enters the bloodstream and 41 % contained retinyl palmitate which accelerates skin damage and increases skin cancer risk when applied to skin exposed to sunlight. (1) .

Check out the safety of your favorite sunscreens using this database link below and find new, safer options here.  Remember a 0-2 score are recommended ones:

Click here for EWG’s Safe Sunscreen Database

Green Living  offers these simple, safe sunscreen choices:

1. Use common sense and stay out of the sun during peak sun hours, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when sunburn is most likely to occur.

2. If you cannot avoid being out during peak hours, try to find a shaded area, an umbrella, wear a wide-brimmed hat, or wear sun-protective clothing.

3. Use natural ingredients found at health food stores to create your own sunblock lotion.  Purchase plain zinc oxide ointment at a drugstore and mix it into your favorite skin lotion to make your own sunscreen. [Think safe when choosing your lotion, too, such as an organic type that is paraben free.]

4. Consume plenty of deep green and red produce; the antioxidants provider sun-protective benefits and add extra defense against skin cancer.

5. If your budget allows, consider clothing made of sun-protective fabric. In Australia, where two out of three people will be treated for skin cancers during their lifetime, a common choice is sun-protective clothing made with a tighter weave to block the harmful rays of the sun and offers the equivalent of approximately SPF 30.

-Australia-based Coolibar is a company that offers sun-protective clothing, swimwear, and hats.

-Other companies offering clothing with sun-protective fabrics include: Solar Eclipse & Solartex. (2)


Dr. Joseph Mercola likes to clear up sunscreen myths.

I myself have heard some health advocates promote just being out in the sun in early morning or late evening as a safe alternative from commercial sunscreens and a way to still absorb vitamin D from the sun.  According to Dr. Mercola, here’s the problem with that idea:

1. UVB helps your skin produce vitamin D.
2.  UVB waves are low in morning and evening and high at midday.
3.  UVA waves are the harmful ones.
4.  If you’re out early in the morning or late in the day, you get lots of UVA (bad guy) and not much UVB (good guy). Not a good way to produce vitamin D.  Plus you increase your risk of cancer, and you fail to protect your skin.

Dr. Mercola does promote safe sun alternatives such as:

-wearing a hat that shields your face
-wear other protective clothing
-decreasing your sunburn risk by increasing raw vegetables loaded with skin protecting antioxidants
-decreasing your sunburn risk by avoiding processed foods and sugars
-using a safe sunscreen made of zinc oxide in the following situations

A safe, natural sunscreen is recommended by Dr. Mercola if you cannot avoid the following three scenarios:

  • You’re forced to be in the direct rays of the sun for a longer time than is safe…
  • You must go into intense sunlight without having the opportunity to gradually build up to it…
  • You’re in a situation where blocking the sun with strategic clothing or sunshades is impractical…

Here is the list of commercial sunscreen chemicals to avoid as provided by Dr. Mercola:

  • OMC is present in 90 percent of sunscreen brands!  Throw it out. It has been found to kill cells in mice at low doses and becomes more toxic in sunlight.
  • Para amino benzoic acid…
  • Octyl salicyclate…
  • Avobenzone…
  • Oxybenzone…
  • Cinoxate…
  • Padimate O…
  • Dioxybenzone…
  • Phenylbenzimidazole…
  • Homosalate…
  • Sulisobenzone…
  • Menthyl anthranilate…
  • Trolamine salicyclate…
  • Octocrylene (3)

Related Post: 6 Steps to Sunburn Relief

(1) The Daily Green “21 of the Best Natural Sunscreens”
“Natural Sunscreen- Not Always From a Bottle.” 
“Summer Survival Kit”

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