Sun Safety Green - Our Daily Green

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sun Safety Green

Sun safety for a great Cleveland forecast

With a wonderfully rare Cleveland forecast of sunny skies for the upcoming weekend, as exhilarating as sunshine can be, it also can pose a true threat without proper protection. Most parents feel safe slathering on the sunscreen, but sunscreen can also pose a unique set of concerns. Considering that anything that is put on the skin will eventually wind up in the body, it pays to be conscientious when choosing a sunscreen.

On average, children get three times more sun exposure than adults. About 80% of lifetime exposure occurs before the age of 18. Using high SPF 15+ products during the first 18 years of life can dramatically lower the risk of certain types of skin cancer.

Recent research suggests that many common sunscreen ingredients are not particularly safe. Samuel S. Epstein, author of Toxic Beauty , warns that ingredients such as benzophenone are a "hormone disrupter" which mimics natural hormones produced by the endocrine system. It is also an allergen, causing allergic reactions, and a "penetration enhancer," which penetrates the skin, and is absorbed into the bloodstream and invades body wide organs. Octyl-methoxycinnamate is also a hormone disrupter and penetration enhancer which has been detected in breast milk. Oxybenzone, another hormone disrupter, has also been detected in breast milk. Parabens are still other hormone disrupters.

This is unsettling news to parents who want to enjoy the outdoors but also protect their children. Fortunately, there are many new products available for consumers to choose from. Obviously the above ingredients need to be avoided. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide remain safe sunscreen ingredients.

broccoli as sunscreenAdditionally, researchers at Johns Hopkins have learned that an extract from broccoli, called sulforaphane has sunblocking properties. Sulforaphane has the effect of activating cells' production of what are known as "phase 2 enzymes." One such enzyme, glutathione S-transferase, has been shown to neutralize the DNA-damaging compounds produced by the skin produces when struck by ultraviolet radiation. If children won’t eat broccoli, they may just be able to wear it.

Other safe sunscreens utilize soy. SoyScreen owes its sunburn-preventing properties to ferulic acid, an antioxidant in rice, oats and other plants. To keep the antioxidant from dissolving in water, researchers bound it to soy oil using lipase enzymes and heat in an environmentally friendly process called biocatalysis.

Lastly, there is always sun shielding clothing, which is self explanatory. This clothing made from textiles that shield the skin from the dangerous UVA/UVB rays. With careful choices and diligence, it is possible to soak up the sun in a safe manner. Have a wonderful weekend!

For more info: Saffron Rouge has published a Black list and a Green list of both unsafe and safe ingredients in cosmetics. This is a handy resource for any green consumer.

Men's Sunblock Shirt
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