I’ve been debating whether or not to post about sunscreens today or about that lemon-y vegetarian pasta that I raved about last week. Tough call-what’s more important to discuss-healthy eating or avoiding nasty chemicals??? Probably nasty chemicals directly at the moment as there are a number of healthy well-known food choices and only a few known sunscreens worth giving out cold hard cash for.
I just keep picturing mamas loading up their kiddos and heading off to the local pool or for a long summer vaca and slathering their kids with a big ol’ dollop of white goo (a.k.a. sunscreen) thinking they are protecting their kids when actually they might be harming them! (Gasp!) Fellow blogger Rachelle at Some Mama Drama brought up this point recently on FB and it reminded me of just how many products are out there that CLAIM to keep us all safe from that “horrible sun” but might actually be causing us harm in a different way.
The problem with SOOOOO many sunscreens is that the chemicals they contain can act as hormone disruptors in the body. Basically your body can’t tell the difference between an actual hormone and these chemicals-they are able to connect with certain “docking stations” in your body that receive hormones. So not only is your body linking up with chemicals but you’ve then got your actual hormones free floating around in your body. This can lead to all sorts of potential problems causing your body’s hormone levels to be off balance. For example, a frequently mimicked hormone is estrogen. The fake estrogen’s presence is known to lead to high breast cancer rates and reproductive problems. I’m sure you can guess why I brought up the fake estrogen. After spending just a few months avoiding as many chemicals as possible I am now halfway through a much anticipated pregnancy. Am I saying it was definitely the lack of chemicals that did it? No, but do I feel it made a difference? Um, yeah, I do!!! I could really go on and on here-bringing up my anti-milk preferences and The fertility Diet I followed but I will save that for another day.
So thankfully there is a group out there called the Environmental Working Group that has an extensive database where you can check out just how potentially hazardous your sunscreen is for free. And for that matter you can check out a LOT of other beauty products you probably own to see just how potentially hazardous they are too. Products are rated on a scale of 1-10. The lower the score the better. The database will also list the ingredients in your product and rate the ingredients individually and give a reason for a certain score.
Every year the EWG puts out a list of recommended sunscreens just to make things a bit easier. To check it out, click here. This was really helpful to me last year when I prepared to go on an awesome family vacation to Yellowstone where I knew I would be outdoors most of the time and would definitely need to be slathering on some sort of sun protection. I was so amazed and disappointed when I took that list to Wallies and only found one product listed on the safe list. That’s one out of about 100 other products to choose from.
I did check out a few other sunscreens that I thought might be safe but after looking at the EWG’s sight I knew what chemicals to avoid and why so I was easily able to rule them out. I did feel a bit like a dork standing there with my list of dangerous chemicals and comparing them as several people walked up and grabbed a sunscreen bottle, popped open the lid and when they found a good smelling one tossed it in their cart. Oh wells, that’s a small price to pay for safety I guess (= You can call me “el queeno, el dorko” if you must!