I Don’t Wear Sunscreen and Would Never Put it on My Daughter

August 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

Is Your Sunscreen Causing Cancer?

Summer is over, well, nearly over so this post is probably a little late but I felt it was imperative I still get the message out there. Afterall, how many of you wear sunscreen year round? How many of you wear face moisturizer or foundation with a built-in SPF? Probably a lot of you.


So when I say that  I don’t wear sunscreen and never put it on my daughter, that is only partly true. Let me clarify, there are only certain kinds of sunscreen I put on my daughter. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released its 2013 Guide to Sunscreens and it includes a lot of great information and choices on the smartest products to use with the least amount of harmful chemicals. I mean lets face it, there are times when we will have to put sunblock on our little ones. I just try to make sure to use one that will do more good than harm.  EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database is also a great website to look up other beauty products such as shampoos, make-up, personal products, hair care and more that have the least amount of toxins. When it comes to sunscreen for me, I prefer to go the coconut oil route with an SPF of 4 or go in the shade when I feel myself getting too hot.


Everywhere you go, people tell you to slather on sunscreen including doctors and healthcare professionals.  I think it’s also a mandatory part of the weather forecast these days too as the weather forecaster will also tell you to not set foot outside without a healthy smattering of cream. But is it doing us more harm than good? I was one of those teens who never used it, went to tanning booths and enjoyed having a natural “glow” all year round in the eighties. However in the last 10 – 15 years it has been ingrained in us to never leave the house unless fully SPF’d.  All sun exposure is bad is the message that I am getting. Never leave the house without an SPF face cream on and sunscreen on any exposed skin. But did you know that as sunscreen usage has gone up, so have skin cancer rates?


This is the scary part…

The skin in the quickest way to get chemicals to the blood stream. Have you looked at the ingredients in your sunscreen lately? There are a few disconcerting ingredients that have me worried.

  • Parabens. These are bad. Parabens have been linked to increased breast cancer rates, and can disrupt hormones. They are banned in Japan and Sweden and under review in the UK. Why on earth would Canada and the US think they are ok?
  • Oxybenzone. Not good. Oxbenzone has been linked to hives, contact urticaria, and degradation dermatitis. Not really something I want on my skin and definitely nowhere near my 3-year-old daughters skin. It is also a hormone disruptor, is linked to breast cancer, and is a photocarcinogenic. And it is banned in Sweden. What do they know that we don’t know?
  • Retinyl palmitate. This should be avoided as it’s been found to possibly speed the development of skin tumors and lesions in the presence of sunlight.
  • Titanium dioxide. Studies have shown that when this chemical is exposed to light, DNA damage occurs. Sunscreen = sun exposure. Kind of a no-brainer.

What else?

Vitamin D. Low Vitamin D may contribute to cancers and melanoma. More information on Vitamin D here. Mommypotamus does excellent research. It was her blog, that got me re-evaluating my sunscreen usage. I, like you probably, was that mother that would not take her one-year-old out without an SPF covering any and all exposed skin anywhere we went in fear of the sun. I now welcome a few sunny rays on her as long as it’s in moderation and there is no risk of burning.

Alternatives to Sunscreen

So now you ask, what do we do if we shouldn’t use sunscreen?? Easy. Our bodies need Vitamin D. 10 – 15 minutes a day is all we need if you have fair skin, just be careful to not burn and that is dependant on your skin color. The fairer you are, the less time and more careful you have to be in the sun. Alternatively, the darker your skin color, the longer you may need to stay in the sun to get adequate Vitamin D exposure.  After you get just a little exposure to get your vitamin D, head to the shade, wear long sleeves, coverup with a hat. Or, use a homemade sunscreen or a sunscreen with natural ingredients that do not contain any of the bad ones. Refer to the  EWG 2013 Guide to Sunscreens.  Or, use coconut oil as a natural sunscreen that is good for your skin too. There really are lots of other options, but nobody  gives you any other option than sunscreen anymore.

What you eat matters…


The other alternative is changing what you eat. There is research to show that certain foods that you ingest, can help prevent sunburn.

  1. Lycopene. Found in tomatoes has been shown to protect you against sunburn. There is more lycopene in cooked tomatoes than raw. Watermelon is also a great source of lycopene. Perfect for summer!
  2. Bump up your saturated fats. And cut out cheap oils such as soybean, canola and vegetable out of your diet. Eat only coconut oil, butter, palm oils.
  3. Enjoy some wine and blueberries! They contain proanthocyanidins. Studies have shown in rodents that UV damage was prevented when these were ingested.

Be smart. Get informed. I feel empowered knowing that I am limiting the chemicals that go on my childs skin and mine. And spend some time soaking up the sun rays! But not too much. 🙂

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a nutritionist and this site does not give medical advice.


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