Skin Health: Bringing Sunscreen into the Daylight
By Dr. Molly Casey
It’s summertime and the Fourth of July weekend is approaching. Not only is this a big nighttime holiday because of fireworks, it’s a huge daytime holiday. Picnics, the beach, the ball game -- there’s a lot going on to celebrate Independence Day. But most folks have a lot going on this time of year, in general. And it means people spend a lot more time in the sun than usual. With this comes very potent yet discreet toxins that few people have any knowledge about -- so let’s get you in the know. It’s sunscreen!
Benefits of Sunlight
The benefits of time in the sun are countless. People move more, kids and adults alike are off electronics and interacting with each other more, folks tend to eat lighter foods and enjoy improved mental health. People just feel better in the spring and summer.
The sun is our direct, natural source of Vitamin D3. This is by far one of the greatest gifts of more time outside during the summer. Twenty minutes of direct sunlight daily gives you the correct amount of Vitamin D3 your body needs. And what does your body need it for, you ask? Well, it’s actually one of the most important factors in your overall health. The lack of it is involved in poor bone health, depression, back pain, cancer, both insulin resistance and pre-eclampsia during pregnancy, impaired immunity, macular degeneration and much more.
One of the single most healing things you can do for yourself throughout life is to spend time outside—I’m a huge advocate of people doing far more of this. I am, however, clear that lathering on sunscreen may be one of the quickest ways to deeply derail the good that time in the sun brings with it.
Conventional Sunscreens -- The Dangers
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) researches toxic chemicals and how they affect your health. In its 2016 report, the EWG says as many as 75 percent of all conventional sunscreens contain toxic or worrisome ingredients that can absorb directly into the blood, release free radicals (which can cause tissue damage and are related to some diseases and premature aging), act like estrogen, disrupt hormones, irritate tissue and can cause allergic reactions. Two specific ingredients that are commonly found in sunscreens are oxybenzone (a hormone disrupter) and retinyl palmitate (a form of Vitamin A that may harm skin).
Read the label on your sunscreen (ideally, just like you do on any food you eat that comes in a package.) EWG suggests staying away from any sunscreens with the following ingredients: Para Amino Benzoic Acid, Octyl Salicyclate, Cinoxate, Dioxybenzone, Phenylbenzimidazole, Homosalate, Menthyl anthranilate, Methoxycinnamate, Parabens. While this may seem rather tedious, let’s keep your eye on the prize—good health and longevity. To lather these substances up on your body and think they will not affect you is wildly imaginative and very likely not true at all.
So what can you do?
Alternatives and Safe Sunscreens
There is always another way. First, and perhaps easiest, is to protect yourself from unwanted sun exposure (after that 20 minutes for your Vitamin D3, of course); wearing clothes shirts, shorts, pants, and hats are especially effective. They can be lighter weight and don’t have to ruin the day’s activities.
Hang out in the shade or shift your plans. This is often forgotten about -- sit under a tree and enjoy the breeze or bring an umbrella with you to the beach. Take lunch inside or make get together plans after the peak hours of the day -- late afternoon/evening trips to the beach are the best, and way less crowded!
Do not forget sunglasses. Your eyes can get burned (yup, it’s happened to me more than once) and it’s pretty uncomfortable -- not to mention not good for your health.
Don’t get burned. Most of us have done it before -- stayed just a tad bit too long outside with too little protection on -- and gotten toasted. The bottom line is the more often you get burned and the more often you blister and peel, the more you are negatively affecting your health.
Three brand name sunscreens that tend to be cleaner than others include:
- Kiss My Face SPF 30
- 100% Pure Hydration Organic Pomegranate
- Aubrey’s Organics SPF 30 Children’s Unscented Sensitive Skin
The less toxic sunscreens use titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as the main ingredients—it doesn’t mean they are totally clean but you are better off choosing products with these as the main protection.
Sunscreen And Chiropractic
Why is your chiropractor writing about sunscreen? There are two reasons. One is that chiropractic is about living a health-based life. Chiropractic is about strengthening the host (your body) instead of simply treating diseases or weakness. Properly preparing your body for time outside and preventing burns and toxicity from conventional sunscreens is one way we can strengthen the host instead of damaging it. The second is that toxins or toxic overload is one cause of subluxation -- the misalignment of the spinal joints which ultimately cause interference with you master control system, your nervous system. Restoring proper brain-body communication is what chiropractors at The Joint do by adjusting you for subluxation and ultimately improving your quality of life. So the better you are at decreasing toxins (conventional sunscreen), the more likely you are to better hold your adjustments and enjoy a healthier life.
Dr. Molly Casey is a Doctor of Chiropractic who practices in the Los Angeles area. She works twice a week at The Joint Chiropractic in Glendale, CA.