How the right sunscreen can save your life really!

Sunscreens have been on our mind a lot lately. We’ve spent several months working on our new non-toxic sunscreen and have come across some healthcare stats that came close to turning us prematurely grey with worry! Jokes aside, these are facts we should all arm ourselves with, and keep in mind the next time we put down our waller for a ‘safe” sunscreen. Consider this:

  • One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.
  • About 90% of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
  • Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for young people 15-29 years old.
  • About 65 percent of melanoma cases can be attributed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
  • Melanoma accounts for less than five percent of skin cancer cases,5but it causes more than 75 percent of skin cancer deaths.

As if these stats aren’t scary enough, we now know that even one or more blistering sunburns in childhood or adolescence MORE THAN DOUBLES our chances of developing melanoma late The risk of melanoma DOUBLES if we’ve had more than five sunburns at any age.

Then consider that only 25% of most sunscreens are effective at protecting our skin without the use of potentially harmful ingredients, according to to the 2012 Sunscreen Guide  released Wednesday by the Environmental Working Group. To make things even more interesting it seems that fully 75% of sunscreens contain harmful, toxic ingredients like oxybenzone that are absorbed through the skin and may cause harmful side effects like hormone disruption and skin cancer – the very thing we’re trying to avoid by using these sunscreens!

Scared yet? We are. And that’s why we are sharing some preliminary things to watch out for when you’re buying a sunscreen, according to the Environmental Working Group.

  1. Consumers should not purchase sunscreens with SPF greater than 50. Sunscreen with SPF 15 can block about 93% of all incoming UVB rays. SPF 30 blocks 97%. SPF 50 blocks 98%. Not a big difference right?
  2. SPF protects only against UVB rays. Look for a sunscreen that offers broad spectrum protection i.e it protects against both UVB rays that cause sunburn and UVA rays that causecollagen and elastin breakdown that leads to deep wrinkles.
  3. Avoidsunscreens with vitamin A (look for “retinyl palmitate” or “retinol” on the label).Recently available data from an FDA study indicate that a form of vitamin A, retinyl palmitate, may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to skin in the presence of sunlight (NTP 2009).
  4. In Europe, sunscreen makers can select from among 27 chemicals for their formulations, compared to 17 in the U.S. Companies selling in Europe can add any of seven UVA filters to their product, but they have only three available for products marketed in the U.S. So you know just what to ask for the next time your jetsetter friend asks what you’d like from Barcelona!

These are serious facts, with some serious consequences. Please spread the word, help arm people you care about with facts. If you have any questions, please email us here and we’ll do our very best to help you. In the meantime, be safe won’t you?

  • Robinson, JK. Sun exposure, sun protection, and vitamin D. JAMA 2005; 294:1541-43.
  • Pleasance ED, Cheetham RK, Stephens PJ, et al. A comprehensive catalogue of somatic mutations from a human cancer genome. Nature; 2009; 463:191-196.
  • Bleyer A, O’Leary M, Barr R, Ries LAG (eds): Cancer epidemiology in older adolescents and young adults 15 to 29 years of age, including SEER incidence and survival: 1975-2000. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute; 2006.
  • Armstrong BK, Kricker A. How much melanoma is caused by sun exposure? Mel Res 1993 December 3(6):395-401.
  • American Cancer Society. Melanoma Skin Cancer Overview. Accessed November 1, 2010.
  • The Burden of Skin Cancer. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Accessed November 1, 2010.
  • Lew RA, Sober AJ, Cook N, Marvell R, Fitzpatrick TB. Sun exposure habits in patients with cutaneous melanoma: a case study. J Dermatol Surg Onc 1983; 12:981-6.
  • Pfahlberg A, Kolmel KF, Gefeller O. Timing of excessive ultraviolet radiation and melanoma: epidemiology does not support the existence of a critical period of high susceptibility to solar ultraviolet radiation-induced melanoma. Brit J Dermatol March 2001; 144:3:471.