Choosing the Right Sunscreen

What a whirlwind of weather we’ve been experiencing lately! As much as it still seems a bit gloomy and dark outside, summer is fast approaching and we need to be aware of protecting our skin from the sun’s intense electromagnetic, ultraviolet (UV) rays.

By: Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D.

We did get a sample of how intense these UV rays can get – I know I got a bit carried away with the beautiful summer weather this past May long weekend – I wasn’t prepared for the sun, which lead to the first sunburn of the season! Can’t wait until this turns in to a golden tan, but until then I’m loving my all-natural oatmeal, vitamin E and aloe-based lotion to help repair my skin from sun damage. However I do encourage that you don’t make my mistake by not using sunscreen (especially when it comes to your children).

Sunscreen is very important for protecting your skin from harmful UV rays. Despite my encouragement to get a good amount outdoor activity for optimal Vitamin D production, it is important that we protect skin from the potentially harmful effects of the sun, no matter what type of skin tone you may have.

With all skin-products, you should be aware that what you put on your skin will ultimately be absorbed in to the bloodstream. The problem with most commercial sunscreens is the dependence on synthetic chemicals to protect your skin from the UV rays, many of which have been flagged as health hazards.

When choosing a sunscreen, be aware of the chemicals added by looking at the ingredient list. Common toxic chemicals added to most commercial sunscreens have all been flagged as hormone disruptors. These include:

  • Oxybenzone
  • 4-MBC
  • 4-BC
  • Octinoxate (Octylmethoxycinnamate)

Also avoid retinyl palmitate, a form of Vitamin A that has been linked to causing skin tumors in rats, when exposed to the sun. Parabens, phthalates and sodium lauryl sulfates are other chemicals generally found in most skin products are all items that we should be aware of as well.

Mineral-based sunscreen offer great protection from UV rays, and are much safer compared to chemically-based sunscreens. These sunscreens use one of two minerals as the active ingredient – zinc oxide and titanium oxide – which form a physical barrier between your skin and the sun’s UVA and UVB rays (most chemical sunscreens do not offer UVA protection). Mineral-based sunscreens are not absorbed in to the bloodstream as the molecules are too big to pass through the skin. Optimal sunscreens should have either one of these minerals and should contain natural skin healing ingredients such as aloe, coconut oil, chamomile, calendula, shea, and vitamins A, E and D. Avoid aerosol sprays and loose powder sunscreens due to high risk of inhalation (even if they are mineral-based). The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has compiled a list of the safest sunscreens available on the market, which you can find by clicking on this link .

The EWG also recommends applying sunscreen every 30 minutes, especially after swimming or sweating.

Sunscreens are there to protect the skin from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays, however the best protection is always staying covered up – wear hats, light cotton clothing and sunglasses during long days in the sun.

Tanya Lee, BSc (Hons), N.D.

Tanya Lee, N.D.Dr. Tanya Lee, H.BSc., N.D.
572 Bloor St . W Suite 201 (Above Herbs and Nutrition)
Toronto, ON M6G 1K1

Health Centre of Milton
400 Main S. E Suite 210
Milton, ON L9T 1P7

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I founded Mums 'n Chums in 2009 after realizing that the area I live in was drastically underserviced as compared to surrounding areas for support and activities for growing families. Mums 'n Chums grew popular very quickly and I have been dedicated to nurturing that growth through frequent networking, social media engagement and in person meetups. By the end of its first year, Mums 'n Chums had close to 500 members and was receiving regular inquiries from fans outside of its service area, asking when we would be expanding to serve them as well. After much careful research and polling, I expanded the site in May of 2011 to cover the entire North end of the GTA (from Cambridge to Markham), areas I believe are still receiving far less attention than they deserve from other sites and family services. We also changed the focus from small scale local mom and tot meetups to more of an informative purpose, closing down our forum and adding several talented contributors to the blog. We do still offer several large scale family events per year, such as our popular Birthday Bash events and our Holiday Bash in December. Our contests have also become a member favourite, and we strive to offer amazing prizes from trusted brands like Babies R Us, La Roche Posay, Johnson's Baby and many more. In March of 2016, after months of work spent migrating all of the site's content to a new platform, Mums 'n Chums re-launched with its fresh, new look. The changes and expansion have proven a great success and we're still getting inquiries from several other cities within the Greater Toronto Area, whom we have decided to serve as well. I have built this site and its' reputation carefully and look forward to continuing its growth!