06/15/2012 08:21 EDT | Updated 08/15/2012 05:12 EDT

Is Your Sunscreen Doing More Harm Than Good?


There are so many sunscreens on the market with SPF's going as high as 100. It's hard to know which are protecting your skin and which are really just loading it with harmful chemicals that are being absorbed into the blood stream. So, I wanted to give you some quick facts to help you pick the right sunscreen. It's also important to protect your eyes and your hair.

1. Best ingredients. According to the Environmental Working Group, zinc oxide (the white or coloured zinc), titanium dioxide and avobenzone (three per cent) are the safest sunscreen ingredients.

2. No SPF higher than 50. A higher SPF than 50 is not necessary and it just adds a higher chemical content to the sunscreen with little benefit.

3. Use lotions and creams, not sprays. The key to sunscreen application is to apply it generously and reapply. The sprays can often miss areas of the skin and the fumes go into your lungs.

4. Avoid oxybenzone and retynil palmitate as an active ingredient. Oxybenenzone is a hormone disrupter and retynil palmitate (sometimes listed as Vitamin A) has been shown to be carcinogenic in lab studies on rats, though this remains a contentious issue.

5. Water resistant, sport, and sweatproof sunscreens are best because they do not wash away as easily.

6. Zinc oxide is great for the ocean because it really stays put. You can find zinc oxide in lots of fun colors so your kids won't mind wearing it.

7. Don't forget your eyelids. Many people forget to apply sunscreen to the eyelids because they don't want to get sunscreen in their eyes. This is a great place for the clear zinc suncreens.

8. Wear goggles and sunglasses that protect against UV rays.

9. Vitamin D It's important to get vitamin D in the summer, so go without sunscreen in the morning for about 10 minutes before applying sunscreen.

10. Protect hair from salt water and chlorine damage by saturating it in fresh water before swimming. The fresh water fills up the hair cuticle instead of the chlorine or salt.

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