The summer is approaching and as the rays get stronger, we need to think about the protection, if we spend many hours outdoors. There has been a lot of contradictions about the sunscreens — do they really protect us as much as they claim? Are the chemicals toxic for our skin and body? What’s worse, being “toxic” or burned? Well, we for sure know that you don’t want to get burned. The risk of skin cancer increases dramatically if you burn your skin. So you either need to stay out of the sun, or protect yourself with a sunscreen and/or sun protective clothing.
The FDA is making some changes in labeling the sunscreens, but their rules are not good enough. They continue to allow oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate and several other ingredients in sunscreens despite scientists’ concerns about their toxicity. The Environmental Working Group has been researching the sunscreens and tested in details the majority of the brands. “FDA’s new standards don’t go far enough to protect you from the sun,” said David Andrews, Ph.D, a senior scientist with Environmental Working Group. “Consumers will have to turn elsewhere, like EWG’s online guide, to find the safest, most effective sunscreens. After 33 years of delay, it is evident people just can’t trust FDA on this issue.”
EWG’s conclusion is that 84% of the 828 sunscreen products assessed offer inadequate protection from the sun, or contain ingredients with significant safety concerns. Only 16% of the products on the market are both safe and effective, blocking both UVA and UVB radiation, remaining stable in sunlight, and containing few if any ingredients with significant known or suspected health hazards. This assessment is based on a review of nearly 400 scientific studies, industry models of sunscreen efficacy, and toxicity and regulatory information housed in nearly 60 government, academic, and industry databases.
The EWG’s database is great and very detailed… I have looked up all the sunscreens that I have at home, and I was terrified. Even the supposedly “natural” sunscreens were moderately hazardous, and some of the “classics” that a lot of athletes use, such as Neutrogena Sport have a high hazard label (7 on scale from 1-10). With a huge disappointment and disgust, I tossed all the sunscreens and started my search for the “Perfect One”.
After long research and lot of price comparisons and reading different reviews on different websites, I have chosen a few favorites: Thinksport’s LIVESTRONG SPF 30 for $14.12 for 3 oz on Amazon.com. I did not know that LIVESTRONG had a sunscreen too! I’ve ordered it with a free shipping and it arrived 2 days later. It smells very nicely, it is just a little bit thicker than I am used to, so I have to rub it a bit more. Leaves a slight-slight white residue. Here are EWG’s ratings. It has very low health risk (1), and good to excellent protection. Best combination of all that I found. It smells good too!
My next favorite is UV Natural Sport SPF 30. It has a low health risk (1) and good to excellent protection. It costs a bit more than the LIVESTRONG, $31.50 for 4.4 oz on Amazon, with free shipping. It is also much thicker and even harder to apply. It smells good. Here are the EWG’s rating.
My third favorite is Badger All Natural Sunscreen SPF 30, available on Amazon for $13.25 for 2.9 oz. I haven’t purchased this one only because it seemed that it didn’t get too good reviews. Maybe I will try it when I run out of the LIVESTRONG and UV Naturals. It has low health risks (1) and good to excellent sun protection. The EWG’s ratings are here.
Whatever sunscreen you chose to use, make sure that you apply the recommended amount. We tend to apply much less, almost half as much as it is necessary to get the promised protection. Which means that if you use sunscreen SPF 15, you may get just 7 or something much lower.
If you want to make sure that your face and neck are completely out of sun, there are many good sun protective hats around. I found this Coolibar brand, that is extremely light (kind of like a dri-FIT fabric for clothes), it’s washable, lets the air in and out, but stops the sun rays. Again, I found a great deal on Amazon: Coolibar UPF 50+ Featherweight Bucket Sun Protective Hat for $21 and free shipping, pink, white and beige.
Enjoy the sunshine, don’t fear it. You need the vitamin D for optimal health. Pay attention to your nutrition and always make sure you eat a lot of vegetables, fruits, legumes and grains, and drink a lot of water. You will feel good and perform great on the tennis court and off, too.