How to choose a safe suntan lotion

CHICOPEE, Mass. (Mass Appeal) - There are so many sunscreens out there so knowing what to look for is important. We want something that will protect us from the damaging rays but at the same time we should know what the ingredients are that may potentially harm us. Jennifer Steiner is a Holistic Health Coach and the owner of Healthy Healing Wellness and she joined us to show us how to choose a safe suntan lotion.

So, here are a few tips to keep your skin safe while out in the sun:

Super-High SPFs
Don’t fall for high SPF labels. Products with sky-high SPFs may protect against sunburn but could leave your skin exposed to damaging UVA rays. Although the letters SPF stand for “sun protection factor,” this refers only to protection against UVB radiation, which burns the skin. It has nothing to do with the sun’s UVA rays. All sunscreens protect against UVB rays, but only some protect against UVA. Many American sunscreens are now labeled “broad spectrum,” but the UVA protection is often inadequate. Stick to SPFs between 15 and 50. Pick a product based on your own skin coloration, time outside, shade and cloud cover. Reapply often and wear clothing.

Spray Sunscreens
There’s growing concern that these sprays pose serious inhalation risks. They also make it too easy to apply too little or to miss a spot, leaving bare skin exposed to harmful rays. Skip the spray and use a cream lotion.

Oxybenzone
Ingredients matter. Avoid the sunscreen chemical oxybenzone, a synthetic estrogen that penetrates the skin and can disrupt the hormone system. One study has linked oxybenzone to endometriosis in older women; another found that women with higher levels of oxybenzone during pregnancy had lower birth weight daughters. Look for active ingredients zinc oxide, avobenzone and Mexoryl SX. They protect skin from harmful UVA radiation.

Retinyl Palmitate
When used in a night cream, this form of vitamin A is supposed to have anti-aging effects. But on sun-exposed skin, retinyl palmitate may speed development of skin tumors and lesions, according to government studies. Avoid any sun product whose label says retinyl palmitate, retinol or vitamin A.

Fragrance
Look to see if the product contains fragrance. When you see either “fragrance” or “perfume” on the label, this means it usually contains phthalates, a family of toxic chemicals that have been linked to allergies and asthma, infertility, reduced testosterone concentrations, and, most worrisome, abnormal development of reproductive system in baby boys. Look for a fragrance-free product.

Check the label
Don’t go by the front of the label. Pay attention to both the Active and Inactive Ingredients.

Most sunscreens on the market today can contain harmful ingredients. Chemical-based sunscreens will break down in the sun and lose their effectiveness over time. We can both absorb and inhale these chemicals into our body. Besides that, most sunscreens don’t fully protect our skin from the harmful UVA rays (these are the ones that can penetrate deep into the skin, suppress the immune system, accelerate skin aging and may cause skin cancer).

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