I’ve long been an advocate of sunscreen, and I don’t leave the house without SPF 28+ on my face.
BUT. I only use sunscreen containing physical blockers, so I’m not putting chemicals onto my skin.
I try very hard to stay out of the sun between 11am-2pm, when it is strongest. I usually wear a ball cap to protect my face if I’m out during those hours, and a cap many other times I’m outdoors (hiking, biking, hanging out at the beach). I try to be aware if I’m beginning to burn and length of exposure. I don’t lay out to tan; I do spend a lot of time outdoors because that’s what I like to do.
I hardly ever wear sunscreen on the rest of my body—always on shoulders and chest if I’m playing beach sports between 11-2—and I don’t burn often. I’ve experimented with using coconut oil as an all-natural sunscreen, and it does appear to protect my skin. I want to try using essential oils. But while I don’t always DO it, I do firmly believe that sun avoidance is even better than sunscreen. Sunscreen is for when you can’t avoid the sun.
More and more people are coming into this understanding. Like diet or exercise or cardio or whatever, it isn’t easy—there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, which makes it hard to talk about. I’m olive skinned. So my cells are literally better adapted to being out in the sun than those of my fair-skinned friends. The Environmental Working Group, controversial though it may be, recently released 9 Surprising Facts About Sunscreen, one of which is that sunscreens might not work. Here are the takeaways:
“Since the year 2000, the rates of new melanoma cases among both men and women have been climbing by 1.9 percent per year, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC 2013)…
- Do not use sunscreen as a tool to prolong your time in the sun.
- Cover up! Hats, shirts and sunglasses are the best protection.
- Avoid sunburn!
- Do not use a tanning bed or sunbathe.
- Protect kids! Early life sunburns are worse, so keep little ones out of the hot sun.
- Pick a sunscreen with strong UVA protection.
- Get vitamin D. There is speculation but not proof that adequate levels of vitamin D can reduce the risk of melanoma. But we know that vitamin D is good for combatting other types of cancer. Commit to getting screened for vitamin D deficiency.
- Examine your skin. Check your skin regularly for new moles that are tender or growing. Ask your primary care doctor how often you should see a dermatologist.”
There you have it. They also released their latest susncreen ratings, which rank a few of my faves as A-OK.
Face: I love Josie Maran (not in the EWG database) and La Roche-Posay the best, but they are expensive. I bought Badger for face and it’s cheaper and works without weird residue but isn’t as light and weightless as the Josie or La Roche.
Body: Kiss My Face sunscreens are the new hotness. I was relegated to Burt’s Bees last year, and it’s chalky and leaves that weirdo white residue (many physical blockers do). KMF doesn’t in my experience, and that makes me happy. It’s not super expensive, either, so yay!
Alternative: Dr. Mercola’s Natural Tanning Oil with Green Tea, made with coconut oil, doesn’t make me any tanner and is very oily (as the name clearly states), but it does appear to protect me from burning.
Let me know in the comments if you have any sunscreens you just LOVE that I need to try!