Sunscreen safety

Two years ago my “Sun safety” article discussed the importance of protecting our skin from the harmful effects of the sun by using protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen.  I thought I had made a good choice in using a broad-spectrum UVA-UVB sunscreen, with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.  But now I am learning that there are many conflicting reports about the effectiveness and safety of sunscreen products.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released its fourth annual “Sunscreen Guide” last month, which recommends only 39 out of 500 beach and sport sunscreens for this season.  According to EWG, many sunscreen products contain red-flag ingredients, like vitamin A (retinyl palmitate) and oxybenzone.  The sunscreen that I had been using contained oxybenzone 6% as an active ingredient, so I now use one ofEWG’s top rated sunscreens.

Of course, the best sunscreen is a hat, shirt and a good pair of sunglasses, which I wore while doing our annual big wash and wax job on our trailer, upon our return from the beach last month.

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The hat is Tilley’s broadest brim hat, the LTM2 Tilly Airflo Nylamtium Hat.  It is comfortable, lightweight, and comes with a tuck-away Wind Cord.  The white shirt is Silver Ridge II by Columbia Sportswear Company.  It is lightweight, comfortable and super-ventilated.  My extra-large SolarShield sunglasses are comfortable while providing Advanced UV Protection (and can fit over Rx glasses).  These items always travel with me when camping.

EWG points out that their “sunscreen database is dynamic, which means that the sunscreen ranking numbers may change based on evolving science, new information on UVA, UVB radiation and sunscreen ingredients, marketing conditions, or other factors.”  Light might be shed on the sunscreen controversy over the effectiveness and safety of sunscreen products if, and when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issues sunscreen industry regulations, which they began drafting 32 years ago, according to The Huffington PostCongresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) has called upon the FDA to finalize sunscreen regulations.

One of the latest health concerns is the use of nanoparticles of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in sunscreen products, as discussed in the AOL News article, “More Bad News About Sunscreens: Nanoparticles“.  This further underscores the importance and need for the FDA to develop and publish new sunscreen guidelines and regulations.

See this excellent YouTube video, “Go Green with Sunscreen“, for tips on staying safe in the sun.

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Now I think I’m ready for those bright, sunshiny days!

About the Author

BILL, along with partner, Larry, were first-time RV'ers when they purchased their custom-ordered 23' 2007 Airstream Safari SE. Bill (a retired RN) and Larry (a retired pediatric Occupational Therapist) enjoy bringing history alive in the area of San Diego, CA.