Sunscreen 101

As summer quickly approaches, we’ve been getting a lot of requests about the topic of sunscreen! Naturally we have an opinion about this magic lotion since:

  1. We firmly believe in getting a good amount of daily Vitamin D (aka the sun). 
  2. We firmly believe in not slathering harmful chemicals all over your body throughout the day

So I’m going to break it down into three parts: The 411 on the Sun What to Avoid in Sunscreen | Brands We Love | Other Alternatives to Sunscreen

The 411 on the Sun

The sun has been around for…awhile. Since we were cavemen? Most definitely. Lately we’ve been seeing a push for Paleo and living like we did back in the day. Yet we’re still slathering on these lotions filled with chemicals (more on that soon). Here’s the thing: most of us are Vitamin D deficient. While I’m not condoning to go sunscreen-free, we first and foremost recommend that you go 10 minutes with 80% of your body exposed to the sun WITHOUT sunscreen on. Then you can take a break and apply a Considering You-approved lotion! Remember that there are two components to the sun: UVB and UVA rays. UVB is considered good and it’s the UVA rays that will burn you! UVB rays are highest midday (and UVA rays are strongest in the morning and late afternoon).

Unfortunately, the sun gets a pretty bad reputation these days. But here’s the thing… skin cancer rates are rising by 4.2% annually, despite the fact that we  spend less time outdoors and wear more sunscreen.

There are times, however, when sunscreen is necessary! Perhaps you’re forced outside without building up your exposure to the sun or you’re outside for way too long without a break in the shade. That’s when we say: use sunscreen! But you can’t stop research there. You need to find out what to avoid.

What to Avoid in Sunscreen

First of all, you want to avoid dioxybenzone and oxybenzone. You also want to throw out any sunscreen containing the following:

  • Para amino benzoic acid
  • Octyl salicyclate
  • Avobenzone
  • Oxybenzone
  • Cinoxate
  • Padimate O
  • Dioxybenzone
  • Phenylbenzimidazole
  • Homosalate
  • Sulisobenzone
  • Menthyl anthranilate
  • Trolamine salicyclate
  • Octocrylene

According to Dr. Mercola,

The main chemical used in sunscreens to filter out ultraviolet B light is octyl methoxycinnamate. OMC for short. OMC was found to kill mouse cells even at low doses. Plus, it was also shown to be particularly toxic when exposed to sunshine. And guess what? OMC is present in 90 percent of sunscreen brands!

So while we spend most of our time ripping on the sun (the most natural way to allow our body to produce Vitamin D3), we’re dousing the largest organ of our body with chemicals that kill mice + have toxic properties. Ironically, UVB rays have been shown to protect against many other cancers (including breast, colon, endometrial, esophageal, ovarian, bladder, gallbladder, gastric, pancreatic, prostate, rectal, and renal cancers, as well as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma).

Brands We Love

When looking for sunscreen brands that we love and support – you should be able to identify every ingredient (and honestly…you should be able to eat most of it). The two main ingredients in your sunscreen should be: Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide. After that you’ll find a lot of things like lotion, oils + other additives that are safe for your skin. We also avoid lotions that include corn or soy (even though they’re considered “natural.”) Also, keep in mind that these types of lotions will not absorb into the skin as well as some of the more toxic mainstream brands. Below are our favorites:


[1] Natural Sunscreen by, $17.97 [2] True Natural’s Carribean Coconut Sunscreen, $19.99 [3] RAW Elements Eco Formula, $18.99 [4] 100% Pure Pomegranate Antioxidant Hydration, $26.00

Other Alternatives to Sunscreen

While we love those brands of sunscreen – you don’t HAVE to use sunscreen to prevent from burning. Here are a few options if you don’t want to shell out the money to order + ship a bottle:

  • Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Start incorporating (from Wellness Mama):
    • healthy saturated fats
    • foods rich in omega-3s (fish, etc)
    • leafy greens
    • 2+ tablespoons of tomato paste daily
  • Make your own sunscreen! Recipes here, here and here.
  • Wear clothing! Hats, umbrellas and loose/breezy clothing will protect you from getting burned!

So there you have it! Our quick run down on sunscreen. Will you be getting enough sun exposure to increase Vitamin D3 in your system this summer? What kind of sun protection do you use? Any products you recommend?

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