It’s that time of year when we are all enjoying a little dose of true Vitamin D from the sun. But it is also important to start applying sunscreen. As we started compiling the list of the safe and natural sunscreens for our children, a very important story came to our attention. What about us? What effects are the toxins and chemicals in sunscreens, make-up, deodorant and toothpaste having on our health? Thanks to a loyal The Whole Tulip blog reader, Kara Dail, she has shared her personal story and done extensive research on the possible effects of sunscreens on our hormones. She also found where to get the most affordable natural products so we can keep the whole family safe. ~Adri
Ask both of my boys how much I love them and they will immediately say “to the moon and back”. It is our (me & hubby’s) sole job to love them, teach them and protect them against everything we possibly can! From the day they were born we have used all natural hair/bath products, eaten organic foods and slathered them in sunscreen (all natural, of course) year round. It struck me last week – why do I take such great strides to protect my children from these horrible chemicals and neglect myself?
I found out last week, at the ripe old age of 33, that I am one of the lucky gals that get to experience menopause a great deal earlier than everyone else on the planet (or so it seemed). I have always had hormonal problems, stemming in puberty and following me thru my entire young adult life – causing everything from irregular periods to polycystic ovaries to miscarriages and finally early menopause. I was thoroughly aware of my family history playing its part in this diagnosis, but had NO idea of the role chemical invaders were possibly playing.
Through information provided by my doctor, and extensive researched performed by myself, I am absolutely horrified to learn that so many products I put in and on my body are wreaking havoc on my hormones and possibly contributing to my issues. While the list is vast, and summer is quickly approaching – I will focus on #1 on my “BLACK” list – oxybenzone. Oxybenzone is the most common active ingredient in sunscreen, found in 60 percent of the 500 beach and sport sunscreens on the market*. While its ability to prevent your skin from burning is non-negotiable, it’s other “note worthy” abilities include triggering allergic reactions, disrupting hormone development/activity and penetrating the skin in relatively large amounts*.
A study conducted in 2008 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revealed that 97% of Americans are contaminated with oxybenzone – SCARY!!! Numerous studies conducted by independent labs and research groups show that oxybenzone and its metabolites, the chemicals the body makes from oxybenzone in an attempt to detoxify and excrete it, may disrupt the hormone system causing estrogenic and anti-androgenic effects. Oxybenzone also displays additive hormonal effects when tested with other sunscreen chemicals, causing damage to the adrenal hormone system*
I grew up on the coast of NC, which means in the course of my life I have probably used enough sunscreen to almost fill an Olympic size pool. Could that have contributed to some of my hormonal issues now? Could that have played a part in the reason I have a baby in heaven and enough shot pricks in me to water my lawn? I will never know – but I can guarantee you from this point on it will not be. There are far too many mineral/all-natural sunscreens on the market to cover my eyes and keep using the same non-mineral stuff that is more easily accessible and usually cheaper – but ALAS…
I also did some research on where to find/purchase mineral sunscreen that won’t cause you to take out a second mortgage on your home. Let’s just say you decide you want to try Badger sunscreen (a highly recommended mineral option on EWG’s sunscreen guide**) and drive all the way out to Earth Fare to pick it up. Depending on the size and type you want (face, kids, etc…) it will cost somewhere between $12-$18 for a ONE OUNCE TUBE – which is crazy, I put that much on myself and my boys in a few day’s time. That’s enough to deter anyone from wanting to use mineral sunscreens – but a little froogle shopping lead me to vitacost.com and their prices on the same name brands found at whole foods stores range from $5-$13, MUCH BETTER!
The long and the short of it is that the FDA is really neglecting its due diligence in protecting Americans from harmful chemicals, and the fact that they haven’t done a study on oxybenzone since the 1970s is further proof of this! Take a look at the Environmental Working Group’s website and simply type in the word “oxybenzone”- you will NEVER let you children (or yourself) wear non-mineral sunscreen again, you will tell everyone you know not to use them and will hopefully become more vigilant on other products of this nature and the havoc they are currently wreaking on your body!
Below is the link to the complete list of recommended sunscreens for 2010, the 2011 list is not out yet – stay tuned!
*all research findings and scientific data can be found on the EWG website in the article “CDC: Americans Carry Body Burden of Toxic Sunscreen Chemical”
Are there other ingredients in sunscreen that you watch out for, I have found a spray on sunscreen that does not have oxybenozone that I like but it has other ingredients (avenbenzone, homosalate, oxtinoxate, octisalate and octocrylene) that sound a lot like the oxbenzone so not sure if those are safe or not and can not find info to the like. Do you have any info/thoughts??
Sorry, forgot one other question, do you have a sunscreen that you like that does not rub off on your clothes, I think I ruined a good number of shirts last year wearing sunscreen and then it rubbing off on my clothes and there being a yucky film on the sleeves even after washing. With swim team season getting ready to start, need something that will give good protection without ending up all over our clothes.
Angie – unfortunately I have not found a good/all-natural aerosol spray sunscreen:( I also love these creations as it makes my squirmy boys able to get to the pool MUCH quicker than slathering on the traditional goo, but none “so far” are safe. Experts have indicated the chemical homosalate, which is present in 90% of sunscreen brands, was found to kill mouse cells even at low doses. Recent studies on childhood illnesses linked these findings to a possible cause of ADHD, asthma and allergies. It has also been found to change estrogen levels in the body affecting DNA and causing cell damage by creating free radicals. As well – neither homsalate, octinoxate or octisalate have been scientifically proven to protect against the dangerous long-wave UVA radiation, which causes premature aging and skin cancer:( There are a few spray options (no aerosol, but just pump spray products) that are good – All Terrain, Dr, T’s Supergoop, and Kiss My Face Sunspray lotion). As far as ruining clothing – I have never had that as a problem?!? We always apply our sunscreen 20 minutes or so before we leave for the pool – so maye it’s soaked in before putting on our clothing so it doesn’t get on it. Either that OR the mineral base of the all-natural sunscreens is such that it doesn’t ruin clothing?!? Either way, a little research suggested to pre-treat the stain with a mixture of dish soap and glycerin – let it set in for 10 minutes and then wash on the highest heat temp allowed by the garmet tags! Hopefully when you start using mineral/all-natural sunscreens you won’t have this problem:)
Do you know of any that don’t look so white on the skin? I wanted to use some on my face and have had a hard time fining somehting that doesn’t make me look like a clown! Thanks-
Blue Lizard Baby or Sensitive Skin is awesome. It rubs in pretty good considering it’s all zinc and titanium dioxide. Not too white, and it doesn’t bother my kids skin. Very reasonable prices on Coolibar.com.