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What we put in our bodies affects our health. But it’s less common to think what we put on our bodies makes a difference. In fact, it does. Dangerous sunscreen ingredients may be causing more sun damage than going without sunscreen at all.

With summer just around the corner, it’s important to know which ingredients in sunscreen are best for optimal sun safety. The same toxic ingredients in cosmetic products like shampoos, soaps, lotions, and makeup are also found in sunscreens.

If you’re the average sunscreen user, you apply sunscreen to block out “dangerous” UV rays. But those UV rays may not be as dangerous as you think.

There are different UV rays: UVA and UVB.

As Dr. Joseph Mercola states, “Appropriate sun exposure actually helps prevent skin cancer. In fact, melanoma occurrence has been found to decrease with greater sun exposure, and can be increased by using sunscreens.”

Ingredients in sunscreen can block UV rays from penetrating your skin, decreasing your sun exposure, and increasing your chances for vitamin D deficiency.

Studies show that up to 85 percent of the U.S. population suffers from vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is a key component in preventing cancer, depression, diabetes, and the flu. And these are only a few of vitamin D’s benefits.

What You Should Know

What do you need to know about the ingredients in sunscreen then? Well, for one thing you should know what your sunscreen’s “Sun Protection Factor” is and how it works.

Many consumers assume a higher SPF is better. However, the Environmental Working Group explains that a higher SPF might actually lead to more health issues.

High-SPF products require higher concentrations of sun-filtering chemicals than low-SPF sunscreens. Some of these ingredients may pose health risks when they penetrate the skin, where they have been linked to tissue damage and potential hormone disruption. Some may trigger allergic skin reactions.

Worse, SPF often blocks UVB rays – which you want to absorb.

Other sunscreen ingredients to avoid are hormone-disrupting ingredients, such as oxybenzone and parabens, which are prevalent in all cosmetic products. These cosmetic ingredients can adversely affect both men and women, resulting in increased female breast cancer and malignant melanoma.

Sunscreens and cosmetics also contain sodium lauryl sulfate and petroleum-based ingredients like propylene glycol, which have been linked to dangerous health issues as well as organ toxicity. Plus, when you use fragrant sunscreens, lotions, and soaps that smell nice, your skin often ingests synthetic chemicals that are batched together and listed as “fragrance” or “perfume.”

Often, these chemicals comprise dangerous ingredient like phthalates, which can cause dermatitis and other skin ailments. Phthalates can also affect your respiratory system, resulting in an allergic response.

If you’ve ever wondered why certain perfumes or scented products (candles included) give you headaches, you might want to check the ingredients to see where the scent comes from. Is it a natural source – like the essential oils in Beeswax Aromatherapy Pillars – or is it some mystery “fragrance”?

Certain sunscreens contain essential oils, like citrus oils, that have a phototoxic contraindication, while others contain oils that heal burns, like lavender.

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The Best Sunscreens

Sun safety products can also be found in your kitchen. A commonly used cooking oil that is great for your skin, internally and externally, and provides some SPF is coconut oil.

3rd Rock sunscreen, which contains natural sunscreen ingredients, is also great for your skin and can maximize your protection from sun damage.

It may be time we step out of the shadows and embrace the healing powers of sunlight like our sun-worshipping ancient ancestors.

Johanna Gan is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles, California. She is a Reiki Master who continues to expand her alternative medicine and spiritual practice through the study of Shamanism and Aromatherapy. She enjoys expressing herself creatively through the visual arts and animation, and she loves flowers. Follow her on Twitter @johganna_.


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