Safe Sun Green - Our Daily Green

Monday, July 26, 2010

Safe Sun Green

One of the joys of summer is the abundant sunshine. But with sunshine, comes the risk of sunburn and dangerous UV rays. Sunblock is the safest way to enjoy the sunshine without the risk of burn, but over the years, I've discovered my children cannot tolerate the chemical sunscreens so prevalent on the market. They would swim and complain about the burn from the sunscreen and it became a fight to use it. I started reading ingredients and comparing brands of sunscreens that touted themselves as natural.  The labels of the sunscreen were confusing to navigate, but I just always remembered if it began with an O (including oxybenzone, octy-methoxycinnamate and octinoxate) it not one I wanted to buy.

Upon further research, the two chemical free sun block ingredients are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide work differently from the chemical sunscreens in that they block the rays versus create a chemical reaction on the skin to deflect them.

Recent research suggests that many chemical sunscreen ingredients are not particularly safe. Samuel S. Epstein, author of Toxic Beauty: How Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Endanger Your Health . . . And What You Can Do about It, 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.

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.

It's possible to safely enjoy the sun, and that's the sort of green that makes Our Daily Green's days bright!

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