My Favorite Way To Protect Against Skin Cancer

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organic sunscreen recommendationLast week over the holidays I soaked up tons of sun with my children and connected with the earth and the ocean and the sun and the sand.

It was glorious and healing.

AND it reminded me to post my annual sunscreen review for my readers!

Today, I’m going to show you the sunscreen that I personally use to protect my children’s tender skin and my own skin as well.

 

I’ll also walk you through my thoughts on the whole sunscreen dilemma… for us it is only our THIRD line of defense against skin cancer and in many instances I’d rather use no sunscreen at all then use the chemical sunscreens on the market.

 

Why?  Keep reading…

 

In years past, I’ve recommended Colorescience Sunforgettable SPF 30 powder, which is a powdered form of titanium dioxide that is micronized (yet *not* a nanoparticle) and I’ve also blogged about Mission Essentials, whose sunscreen is locally made and produced… I still like both products and use them from time to time, but they both contain titanium dioxide.

In an effort to avoid titanium dioxide, I’ve kept up the search for the ultimate suncare cream.

 

And I’ve found it.

 

Here it is, ladies and gentlemen, the ultimate in sunscreen:  Miessence Reflect Outdoor Balm.

 

Why is it my fav?

It truly absorbs into my skin, leaves it only slightly white as opposed to thick and pasty white, and is made up ONLY of Zinc.

 

Alison Price, owner of OrganicGlow.com, is here to tell us more about why it’s the best sunscreen product available today:

 

The Miessence Reflect Outdoor Balm gold standard formulation is a whopping 22% microfine zinc oxide which offers protection from harmful rays while organic olive oil keeps the skin supple.

Potent antioxidants including natural vitamin E, beta carotene and polygonum extract, protect the skin from premature aging and prevent damage caused by the elements.

It’s a fantastically effective, broad spectrum sun blocker with no synthetic chemicals.

Environmental Working Group annually ranks the safety and effectiveness of 1700 SPF products and Miessence is consistently ranked in the Best Sunscreens list.

  • Non-nanoparticle zinc; Reflect uses micronized (physically crushed zinc minerals) that is 150 nanometers
  • Non-coated minerals; Reflect’s mineral zinc is not coated with aluminum compounds, silicone compounds or titanium dioxide
  • Creates a physical sunblock that bounces the sun’s harmful rays off of your skin, unlike chemical sunscreens that absorb rays

Now I’ll just tell you upfront that sunscreen is not my number one recommendation for prevention of skin cancer.

Nor is it my second recommendation either.

I prefer to avoid peak sun hours and use sun protective clothing like rashguards, hats and sunglasses.

 

But when I’m going to be spending all day at the beach or gardening outside during peak sun hours… this is the sunscreen I use.

It is an investment in my health and the health of my children, so I go for it and use it liberally.

 

I grew up in a family that has been researching/discussing skin cancer ever since I can remember…  my father was a head scientist at the National Institutes of Health and literally paved the way for melanoma research, discovering pathways and enzymatic reactions that they didn’t even know existed when he entered the field of melanoma research.

 

My father, Dr. Vincent Hearing, literally wrote *The Book* on pigmentation and melanoma.
Clearly, the dangers of ultraviolet exposure has shaped my life… growing up I traveled all around the world with my family to attend scientific lectures on skin cancer with my father as the speaker of honor.
This childhood has impressed upon me not to ever take the damaging effects of the sun on our skin lightly.

And yet, as I made my own way through medical school and clinical practice… and then further as a natural minded mother… and even further understanding the spiritual laws of the universe… I began to see the flip side.

Not only how absolutely crucial the sun is to our existence, how healing light can be to our psychological well-being, how vitally important Vitamin D is to our well-being… but also how downright toxic most sunscreens are to our bodies… I began to weigh seriously the real risks vs. benefits of avoiding the sun vs. sun exposure.

I spent several years researching this, and playing around with my gut feeling on the issue, honoring my *knowing* that I need to feel sun on my skin, with my “knowing” that only a few minutes of sun exposure begins to mutate the DNA in our cells, with potentially cancerous results.

Skin cancer being the most common cancer in our country (about half of all cancer cases), it’s not one to ignore.

So… not taking either side lightly, I have found my balance, the comfort zone I recommend to patients, and I’d like to share that with you here:
  • Some chemicals in sunscreen (like the oils, petroleum products, and retinyl palmitate found in most sunscreens) have been shown to actually increase the rates of skin cancer lesions, when directly applied to the skin.
  • On top of that, many of the chemicals in chemical blocking sunscreens are shown to disrupt our natural hormone pathways.  In fact, oxybenzone, the most COMMON chemical sunscreen used, has been shown to disrupt hormones and is *not* (repeat NOT) recommended for use in children.  That’s right.  Look at all the “kid’s formula” sunscreens out there… they all contain oxybenzone.  This chemical not only is a hormone-disruptor, but it is particularly well absorbed (which is why it is so commonly used) so applying to your skin it becomes internally absorbed within minutes.  Which means children, who are still growing, are getting systemic doses of hormone-disrupting oxybenzone circulating through their bodies on a daily basis all summer long.
  • More bad news… mineral based sunscreens are increasingly being made in nano-sized particles so that they blend into the skin better… and unfortunately, this means they can potentially be absorbed systemically as well. Even mineral based sunscreens like zinc or titanium dioxide are potentially toxic if they enter your body, so you want to be sure your product does not use nanoparticles.
  •  ALL sunscreens have a drawback.  All sunscreens (chemical and physical) effectively decrease your skin’s ability to manufacture Vitamin D.  You really can’t underestimate how important Vitamin D is… it has been shown to prevent cancers, strokes, heart disease, boost your immune system, strengthen bones, prevent osteoporosis, decrease mental disorders.  We need it.  Point blank.
  • Most of us are vit D deficient.   If you don’t get daily sun exposure, take a Vit D supplement.  If you use sunscreen, take a Vitamin D supplement.  If you work inside or go to school all day long… you must take a Vitamin D supplement.
  • Also, sunscreens give the user a false confidence… at least with no protection, redness develops and gives us a common sense indicator to GET OUT OF THE SUN and to be much more careful next time!  With sunscreen use… all common sense is gone.  With no threat of a sunburn… sun exposure can continue on double and even triple the length of time that one would normally be in the sun.  Yikes.

 

But there is good news too.  Lots of different ways to protect your skin… you just have to play around with what time of day you go out in the sun and what parts of your body are chronically exposed and most urgently need protecting.

 

  • My ultimate solution, when possible, is sun avoidance during peak sun hours (10AM – 4PM) — this is infinitely better than any sun protection.
  • There was a huge investigational study that backs this up…  Sunscreen was third on the list in order of most effective ways to protect yourself from sun damage and skin cancers.
  • The most important #1 way to protect from ultraviolet exposure is avoidance.  Avoid going out in the sun during the peak UV hours in mid-day.
  • The second best way to protect from the sun, if you are going out in the peak hours and/or going to be out for many consecutive hours, is uv protective clothing.  Rash guards, hats, sunglasses.  Be certain to protect your eyes by wearing UV protective sunglasses, dear reader!  UV exposure is one of the leading causes of lens opacity (cataracts) as you age.  You can prevent this by diligently protecting your eyes.

 

 

 

Enjoy the longer days and warmer nights and use this common sense approach, combined with this fantastic sunscreen when needed, to protect your skin from future cancers.

xoxo, Laura