Friday, June 8, 2012

Little miss sunscreen

Happy Friday everyone! First and foremost, I'm excited to share an article I wrote for a new, local magazine called Womyncentric. You can view a PDF version of my article, "Here comes the sun(screen)" on their website. Please share!

Now, what the article doesn't address: As I wrote (on a Greyhound bus), I was so preoccupied by all the benefits of wearing sunscreen (um, hello, have you seen this picture??) that I failed to address the negatives. My editor responded with some very valid questions: Because many sunscreens use chemicals to protect us from UV radiation, could using sunscreen be doing more harm than good?

I didn't know the answer, so I turned to melanoma expert Dr. Sancy Leachman from the University of Utah. Dr. Leachman helped put my mind--and my editor's--to ease by providing the following insights:

Tons and tons and TONS of studies (cellular, molecular, animal, human, epidemiological) all indicate that sunscreen is effective in preventing non-melanoma skin cancers. She believes UVA/UVB sunscreen is also effective in preventing melanoma, there's just less data out there to support it. Conversely, studies that show sunscreen is bad are still very limited.

If you have concerns about using products with artificial chemicals, she recommends using sunscreens that contain only physical blockers, like zinc oxide: "Zinc oxide has been used for generations on baby's bottoms for diaper rash and is even an additive in some of our packaged foods. I think any major problem with use of zinc oxide would have been discovered by now, so I am putting zinc oxide on my kids to prevent sunburn!"

But what if all you've got is a bottle of Neutrogena? Dr. Leachman said, "If the choice is to use a chemical sunscreen or burn, then I still think the benefit of the sunscreen outweighs the risk."

Somewhat serendipitously, only days after this conversation, I started chatting with Kourtney from Kourtney just published an eBook about making the switch from products with harsh chemicals to more natural alternative ones. I felt like it must be a sign from the universe that I should not only be wearing sunscreen, but thinking more about the type of sunscreen that I'm putting on my body. I highly recommend checking out Kourtney's blog (and her eBook!) We may even get together before the end of the summer and make our own batch of zinc oxide-based sunscreen. I'll be keeping you all in the loop. In the meantime, I'd love to know if you have any favorite sun protection products. Please share with me below!


  1. I always found the enviromental working groups articles on natural sunscreens to be very helpful!

    I love badger sunscreens, this is the kinds I use

    Great post!


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