Friday, June 18, 2010

The Sunscreen Blues

I can still hear the chants of “ghost girl, ghost girl” every time I prepare to head outside and catch a few rays of sun. My eerily fitting nickname was a constant reminder of my pasty skin and how I needed to look more like my naturally tan kindergarten friends. But as I've aged and finally learned that achieving anything more than a “glow” would be impossible, I have also learned of the dangers associated with sun worshiping. After years under the sun, many are finding that their tans have a price tag- skin damage. My mother, always conscience of the newest dangers, would slather on tubes and tubes of the highest SPF to ensure that my skin would stay safe from even the slightest tinge of pink. But researchers are now discovering that not only can the sun’s powerfuln UVA and UVB rays are to blame, but your sunscreen could be as well.

According to the researchers at Environmental Working Group, many of the leading sunscreens contain Vitamin A and its derivatives which are being linked to an increased speed at which malignant cells are developing. Many sunscreens use the ingredient because of its anti-oxidants which help prevent the aging of skin. However, when used on skin directly exposed to sun light, Vitamin A is being found to aid in the growth of cancerous tumors. The EWG has not only uncovered the dangers of Vitamin A in sunscreens, but also overstated claims of SPF ratings. While ghostly white cream might prevent obvious burns, it won’t protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Many companies are misleading consumers by listing SPF ratings over “50” and even reaching as high as SPF “100”. With a false sense of security, people are rubbing on the cream and staying out longer, increasing their risk for skin damage. These misleading, and often times harmful, chemical sunscreens are finally being brought to the spotlight and exposed.

However, there is new hope in mineral sunscreens. Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide are becoming skin's best friend in the light of the sun. Sunscreen lines such as “Caribbean Sol”, “Alba”, and “Jason” are free of Oxybenzone (a disruptive hormone that can enter the bloodstream) as well as Vitamin A, and its derivatives.

After pushing aside my childhood dream of bronze skin, I've come to accept the risks associated with staying out in the sun and taking my sunscreen for granted. So listening to a close friends words of wisdom, when the “ghost girl” song trills in my mind, I think to myself, “pasty is tasty”.

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