Protect Yourself from the Sun and Insects This Summer
Summertime! In addition to backyard barbecues, pool parties, and outdoor farmer’s markets, summertime means one more thing: time to stock up on sunscreen and insect repellent. But with so many options to choose from, all containing a wide variety of ingredients, how do you know which product to pick? Here is a breakdown of these products, along with some popular items carried in the Wellness Department at Healthy Living.
In addition to the pain and discomfort a nasty sunburn can cause, overexposure to the sun’s UVA and UVB rays can also lead to skin sagging, wrinkling, sun spots, freckling, and skin cancers, such as melanoma. According to the American Skin Association, sunscreens work by absorbing, reflecting or scattering the sun’s rays. When seeking out a natural sunscreen, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Everyone over the age of 6 months old should be wearing sunscreen daily (even if staying indoors).
- To get the most out of your sunscreen, apply it 30 minutes before heading outside, and apply after swimming or perspiring heavily.
- Always pick a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, regardless of factors such as weather or skin color.
- Use the full directed amount on sunscreen (numerous studies indicate that sunscreen users apply just one-fifth to one-half the quantity of sunscreen the maker recommends!)
- Do not rely on sunscreen alone: make sure to stay in the shade, wear sunhats, sunglasses, and protective clothing, and use extra precaution between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when UV rays are the strongest. You can also find the daily UV Index rating online, on TV, or in the newspaper, and this can help you prepare for the sun’s intensity.
- Skip sunscreens with insect repellent. Sunscreens should be applied liberally and often; commercial insect repellents should not.
- Beware of sunscreens with SPFs higher than 50, which researchers suspect do not provide additional protection and thereby create a false sense of security. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends broad-spectrum sunscreens (which protect against UVA and UVB rays) with an SPF of at least 30.
- Look for mineral-based natural sunscreens with zinc and titanium dioxide listed as active ingredients (these sunscreens, also known as “physical sunscreens“, work by scattering and reflecting UV rays). Although no ingredient is without some concern, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) favors mineral sunscreens because of their superior UVA protection.
- All sunscreens carried at Healthy Living score very low on EWR Skindeep database.
- This month we are running sales on sunscreens from BurnOut and Kiss My Face.
In addition to being itchy and irritated, insect bites can cause all kind of other health problems, including West Nile and Lyme disease. Protect yourself using these recommendations:
- Wear clothes that cover any exposed skin, including socks, shoes, and long-sleeves
- Choose a repellent concentration rated for the time span you’re outdoors, but not longer.
- Use products with the lowest effective concentration of repellent chemicals, particularly on children.
- When using repellent on a child, apply it to your own hands and then rub them on your child. Do not apply repellent to children’s hands because they sometimes put their hands in their mouths.
- EWG research indicates that unregistered botanically based bug repellents are not often the best choice. While effectiveness varies, and there may be a few exceptions, most botanicals repel bugs for a short time, if at all.
- Lemon Eucalyptus Essential Oil was found to be one of EWG’s top performing/least toxic bug repellents (here at Healthy Living we carry Aura Cacia’s Lemon Eucalyptus essential oil for $4.99/0.5 fl oz bottle). Note: Do NOT use Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus/PMD on children younger than 3 years old
- All insect repellents carried at Healthy Living score very low on the EWG Skindeep database.
For more information on eco-friendly sunscreen and insect repellents, visit: