Saturday, August 4, 2012

All Natural Sun Protection

My news feed recently seems filled with questions about the merits of traditional, store bought sunscreen. Is it effective? Are the ingredients potentially toxic? Could sunscreen itself cause cancers?

I don't consider myself to be an alarmist. I also clearly value the benefits of sunshine and loathe the results of an accidental day without sunscreen (it happens to the best of us). However, with three small children who play endlessly in the sun, it's good to occasionally question if we are using the best method to protect their young skin. Luckily, there are several options to utilize, a combination of which seems to be the safest and most effective strategy to ward off a bad sunburn.

Choose a good, natural sunscreen:
It's best to choose a sunscreen that is natural or organic. However, with so many marketing ploys, it's best to check out the ingredient list of store bought sunscreens to determine the best option. Need help deciphering that ingredient list? Check out the FDA for a list ofchemical ingredients to avoid in sunscreens and other cosmetics. Also remember, it's best to use a broad spectrum sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection that is PABA free.
Also consider application type and ease of use. I'm a fan of sunscreen sticks or bars, especially for squirmy toddler faces. It has been noted that spray on sunscreens, although effective when trying to target the sunscreen adverse types, may pose unknown risks due to the inhalation of chemicals.
You can easily make your own, all natural sunscreen with products purchased online. Andrea over at Frugally Sustainable offers up a really easy sunscreen recipe and links to purchase the ingredients. Or you can just add some zinc to your favorite lotion.

Physical barriers:
I put a hat on my kids' heads each morning before they go out the door. We also tend to eat lunch in our shady screened in porch avoiding some of the strongest sun rays of the day. There are numerous clothes, hats, and beach umbrellas that provide a barrier to the sun. Just make sure you find something with an SPF protective factor appropriate for your family's outside activities.

We can boost the natural protective factors in our own skin just by eating a healthy diet filled with the right vitamins and minerals.
This Modern Mom Health & Fitness article describes the potential benefits of Vitamin F Skin Care and the limitations of the current scientific research.
Fox News lists 9 Sun-Protective Foods in their health coverage including orange, yellow, and red pigmented fruits and vegetables like peppers, squash, tomatoes and watermelon.

The benefits of playing outside and experiencing nature on a sunny day far outweigh the risks and hassles associated with finding and using the right sun protection. If you've made your own sunscreen, please tell us about it in the comments below. What other ways do you protect your skin while enjoying the outdoors?

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