Our Favorite Non Toxic and Vegan Sunscreens and Other Sun Care Tips
Summer is here and that means beaches, pools, more outdoor concerts, organic outdoor dinners, outdoor sports (Just 30 minutes of aerobic activity 3-5 times a week can lower your risk of breast cancer by 30 to 50 percent). Really, summer is about having more time outdoors for just about everything. That means more sun! While a little vitamin D is healthy, all that fun in the sun could lead to some other stuff, like tan lines or even sun burns. Sun exposure is a very real issue – it is the primary cause of skin cancer.
So what’s a person to do when there’s an entire summer of sun to be enjoyed? If your first answer is to slather on sunscreen to protect your skin, think again. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), Melanoma rates are increasing and leading scientists believe sunscreen cannot reverse this trend – but all is not lost. If used correctly, a good sunscreen can prevent sunburns and keep you looking and feeling your best through the sun-soaked summer months.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a set sunscreen rules which hope to curb false claims and add some guidelines for what manufacturers are and are not allowed to say. These rules allow most sunscreens to claim they offer “broad spectrum” skin protection and that they can reduce skin cancer risk.
Higher SPF is NOT better
Look for sunscreens offering broad UVA and UVB spectrum protection and 15-50 SPF. Don’t be fooled by a high SPF! Products with anything higher than SPF 50 tempt you to apply too little sunscreen and stay in the sun too long. DON’T FALL FOR IT! The FDA has even proposed prohibiting the sale of sunscreens with SPF values greater than 50+, calling higher SPF values “inherently misleading”. Even if you think you don’t burn (which everyone does) your skin could possibly be damaged.
Vitamin A vs. Vitamin D
While eating food packed with vitamin A is healthy for you, spreading vitamin A on your skin is not! Federal studies indicate that retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A, added to sunscreens may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to skin in the presence of sunlight. Avoid sunscreens, lip products and skin lotions with vitamin A, labeled “retinyl palmitate” or “retinol.”
Vitamin D, on the other hand, reduces the risk of breast, colon and ovarian cancers. Vitamin D also strengthens bones and the immune system! Since sunshine produces vitamin D don’t avoid it altogether! Moderation is key!
Avoid Toxic Ingredients
Surprise, many mainstream manufacturers don’t care about your health. They use ingredients that disrupt hormones and cause skin allergies or worse. They tend to use false advertisement to trick people into buying their products. Did you know that many mainstream baby sunscreens - which are supposed to be less toxic and safe for infants - often have just as many toxic ingredients as their adult counterparts? It’s important to choose wisely when shopping for a safe sunscreen, and Non Toxic Revolution is here to help you with that.
The EWG has a super exhaustive list of over 1,400 sun protection products from sport sunscreens to tinted moisturizures that you can check out here! You can search your favorite brand and see where they fall on their safety and effectiveness scales - or discover your new non toxic fav! Some of our favorites include the Bare Republic, Mychelle and Alba - just be sure to get the fragrance free!
Check out our Sunscreen Guide to help you navigate all your choices!
Don’t Forget Your Feet!
Be sure to cover all the exposed skin when applying sunscreen, some are easy to forget. Don’t miss your feet, ears, eyelids, hands, nose, lips or the top of your head!
Sun Care Tips
Don’t rely on sunscreen alone to protect yourself. In fact, it’s not even your best option. While using the right sunscreen is crucial, there are many other factors for keeping yourself safe from too much sun.
When to Go Out
One of the best things about summer days is how long they are. The sun’s rays are the strongest from about 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, so it may be wise to schedule your sunny activities for the morning or evening, like a nice AM hike or a dinner barbecue. You can still go out at these times, just be sure to utilize protective gear during those peak hours.
It’s important to cover-up when in the sun for long periods of time. Who doesn’t love a floppy hat or super cute wrap to wear over your bathing suit? Try something lightweight so you don’t get overheated. Get yourself an umbrella or other shade to lounge under when you’re on the sand. Don’t forget your sunglasses! Your eyes need protection, too!
Drink Lots of Water
Staying hydrated is super important in hot weather and when spending time in the sun. Bring a refillable water bottle with you, especially if you’re gonna be out for long periods of time! Electrolyte heavy fluids like coconut water also help protect your skin and organs!
Seriously! No tanning! Stay far away from tanning beds. There is no “safe” amount of indoor tanning. And yes, soaking up rays by the ocean or pool feels great, but that can lead to burns and other over-exposure related issues.
Now go get all your non toxic sun care goodies together and enjoy the summer!
Bree is a vegan, coffee and beer loving, intersectional feminist who is particularly invested in health. She has a degree in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from CSULB, where she spent her time turning her passions into academic activism. When she’s not busy spreading awareness on living a non toxic lifestyle, she is most likely taking a long bath, cooking extravagant vegan food, or crying about dogs.