Sun Care or Skin Flare?

Growing up I was a pool mermaid. As certified lifeguard and WSI I was an aquatic guru. If it had to do with swimming in a body of water, I knew about it, preached it and practiced it religiously. I even picked a college based on the water culture, Aloha Hawaii Pacific Univ! I used to joke that the water was my natural habitat and with that, came my beloved sign -- the sun.

Acne and pale skin aren't a thing when you're a swimmer thanks to un-clocked hours of sun and chlorine (or saltwater) time. Instead I dealt with things like dry skin and over exposure; an entirely different set of challenges we can chat about another time ;) Back then I chose sunscreen based on the SPF because I didnt want to have to stop what I was doing if I didnt have to, to reapply. Or by the scent. Because god bless Hawaiian Tropic's coconut scent, the invigorating smell of my youth. Occasionally I'd venture to an outdoorsman shop and grab a stick of colored zinc oxide to draw on my fellow peers or wear the iconic Bay Watch white lifeguard nose. The stuff literally wouldn't rub in or off, no matter how hard you tried. But my oh my have times changed!

As I lean inward and feel a longing for the water again, I found myself looking for a natural alternative to the chemical sunscreens most of us grew up using. If you cant pronounce it, its probably not safe to put on your body. But in chatting with a close friend and manufacturer of all skin things coconut oil based, there are challenges with all natural sun protectants. Simply put, there aren't many options that are both all-natural, safe and effective.

Lets dive in. There's two kinds of sunscreen on the market: mineral and chemical. Mineral sunscreen, also referred to as physical sunscreen, typically has an active ingredient or two and completely natural otherwise. Whereas chemical sunscreens absorb the harsh rays and turn them into heat. (

Mineral sunscreens usually contain zinc dioxide and titanium dioxide. They are considered physically as they literally create a barrier on the skin deflecting the suns rays. Since it is not water soluble or easy rubbed off, it is a fantastic sunscreen especially for water lovers. So, what are the risks with mineral sunscreen? The biggest risks amongst the two active ingredients is titanium dioxide. Evidence suggests that some nanoparticles may induce toxic effects in your brain and cause nerve damage, and some may also be carcinogenic. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies titanium dioxide as a Group 2B carcinogen, which means it's "possibly carcinogenic to humans."

So, what’s a safe way to prevent skin damage and skin cancer? Great question. Based on my research thus far in conjunction with Environmental Working Groups running list of tested and rated products, simply avoiding exposure seems to be the safest way to reduce the possibility of lesions, cancers and other damage. Protecting your skin with clothing and other sun-safe shields along with mineral sunscreens seem to be the best. For a full list of sunscreen ingredients and their hurdles, check out EWG’s article: The Trouble With Ingredients in Sunscreen.

Stay golden — I mean well covered =)


dena helling