Summer is almost upon us and, if you’re anything like the men of the GP Crew, you’re gearing up for the beach, lake, golf, tennis, run, bike, swim… you get the picture. What do all these activities have in common? Sun exposure. Ever since our youth and (and even more so recently), we’ve been taught to avoid excessive sun exposure, to wear protective clothing, and to always always wear sunscreen.
Chances are you’ve never really looked at the ingredient list on the back of your bottle of sunscreen. Padimate O, Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Homosalate, Methylparaben, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Polyethylene, and Triethanolamine are just a few of the common chemicals found in sunscreen. Tasty, right? Chances are you’ve never questioned if those chemicals have any potentially dangerous side effects. Its not exactly a list of stuff I’d go rubbing all over my body without hesitation, but we do it anyway without thinking.
That gentlemen, is not good. Part of the reason you read Gear Patrol is to advance yourself, so let’s discuss.
As a side note, it’s curious to see that the sales and growth of the sunscreen market has grown tremendously over the past few years, yet reports are still estimating over 1 million new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer in 2009 alone, and the incidences are increasing (this could be due to population aging). It’d be interesting to see the incidence of skin cancer in our generation with the advances of sunscreen technology and sun exposure awareness. Not to mention, you’ve got to factor in for all the crazy girls who go to the tanning beds and the premium our society has placed on image and looking sun-kissed year round.
In that list of common chemicals found in sunscreen, oxybenzone, also known as benzophenone-3 is on the short list in becoming the next Bisphenol A (BPA). While oxybenzone is one of the most widely used sunscreen chemicals and approved for use by the FDA, its last safety review was in the 1970s. Which, coincidentally, happens to be at an age before many Gear Patrol readers could read. Since then, there has been mounting evidence to suggest the chemical may not be nearly as safe once suggested as it has been linked with endocrine disruption, cell damage, and allergies. A recent study by the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) reveals that 97% of Americans are contaminated with the chemical and a companion study by Mount Sinai School of Medicine published just one day before linked low birth weight in baby girls to mothers exposed to oxybenzone during pregnancy. Just so you know, low birth weight is a risk factor linked to coronary heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and other diseases in adulthood.
Before you panic, there are a few caveats. One, you’re a man and not having a baby but your significant other might be. The European Union found insufficient data to assess if oxybenzone in sunscreen was safe for consumers, it’s still approved for use by the FDA, EU, and Canada.
Finding a sunscreen without oxybenzone can be quite challenging at the store, but afters diving into internet research and on Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep cosmetic safety database, I found Soleo Organics Sunscreen, from Soleo. This all natural FDA approved topical sunscreen was developed in Australia by Naturopath Leo Fung. It protects against UV-B (sunburn), UV-A (premature aging of the skin), and is amongst the highest rated in regards to safety on the Skin Deep cosmetics database.
Unlike commercial sunscreens, you have to remember to knead the tube before use, as clearly stated on the tube, to keep the oils and the cream well mixed. The sunscreen also takes a little longer to rub in than most commercial ones but is nearly invisible once applied. Those aspects take some getting used to but are a small price to pay for an all-natural sunscreen. Soleo Organics Sunscreen was specifically designed to provide low irritation for people with allergies (reading this Eric?), doesn’t sting your eyes or clog your pores, and stays in place on short runs. Best of all, it’s water-resistant for up to 3 hours and is ocean and fresh water friendly.
On a recent trip to Puerto Rico (a perfect place for a real world test, I might add) this writer protected himself from the sun’s hazardous UV rays with the Soleo Organics All-Natural Sunscreen – thereby avoiding any products with oxybenzone. Even still, I managed to get a bit of a tan.
Follow my lead and make the switch. After all, the point of sunscreen is to protect your skin and prevent cancer, and slathering your body with funky chemicals isn’t exactly the best way to go about that.