Not only is your skin your largest organ, but it is metabolically active, which means that it works hard to protect you from harmful external influences. Your skin contains many of the same enzymes present in your liver for chemical detoxification, and it houses immune cells that ward off pathogenic bacteria. Further, up to 65% of what you put on your skin may be absorbed into your bloodstream and lymph system. It’s important to choose your sunscreen carefully so that you can apply it liberally and often without concerns for your safety. Follow these quick tips to protect you and your family this summer:
- Use zinc-based non-nano particle sunscreens that provide a physical rather than chemical barrier between you and the sun. Good examples include Badger and Green Beaver brands.
- Use predominantly creams rather than sprays which can be accidentally inhaled.
- Eco Parent magazine recently published an article online about safe sunscreen use for babies younger than 6 months. Young children in particular have a much lower skin surface to volume ratio, making them much more susceptible to toxicity from topical products. This article is written by one of our own, Dr. Alexis Reid, ND, in Ottawa.
- Avoid mixing bug repellant with sunscreen. Some sunscreens can increase the absorption of the bug repellant, making it more toxic to you and less effective against bites and associated infections.
- Overuse of sunscreen can contribute to a vitamin D deficiency. For most people, some sun exposure is a healthy way to acquire vitamin D and support immune system health. Just be sure it includes only minutes at a time during non-peak hours (e.g. before 10am and after 4pm).
- When sunburns do occur, the damage may be cumulative and permanent. Monitor suspicious skin spots for changes, and visit www.myskincheck.ca. Treat burns with well-researched botanicals that help to heal the skin, such as calendula and aloe.