First of all, let me just say that what I write here is not advice to you or to anyone else. I am not a dermatologist, and the choices I make are for my own body, so I respect what other people do with theirs. With that out of the way, I will share with you why I don’t encourage sunscreen — and how there’s plenty of real scientific evidence to back up my decision.
Check out the Environmental Working Group’s 2017 report on sunscreen. Plenty of the evidence that group has compiled shows that sunscreen might not protect us as well as we think, and in some cases might even be harmful. I’ve broken some of the info down here, and will then explain what I do to avoid burns and skin cancer. (The quotes below are all according to the report.)
Sunscreen prevents burns but may not prevent cancer: “Most scientists and public health agencies — including the Food and Drug Administration itself — have found very little evidence that sunscreen prevents most types of skin cancer.” In reviewing the evidence, the FDA said that the available clinical studies “do not demonstrate that even [broad spectrum products with SPF greater than 15] alone reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging.”
Sunscreen use has been linked to more malignant skin cancers: “A  study by U.S. government scientists suggests that retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A, may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight.” How many people do you know who say they’re “fine in the sun” since they put on SPF 75?
High SPF numbers don’t mean what we think they do: More is not always better when it comes to SPF. “Many studies have found that people are misled by the claims on high-SPF sunscreen bottles. They are more likely to use high-SPF products improperly and as a result may expose themselves to more harmful ultraviolet radiation than people relying on products with lower SPF values.”
In their 2011 report, the EWG wrote, “In June 2011 the FDA, for the second time, published draft regulations that would prohibit companies from labeling sunscreens with an SPF sun protection factor higher than ‘SPF 50+.’ The agency wrote that values ‘higher than 50 would be misleading to the consumer,’ given that there is an ‘absence of data demonstrating additional clinical benefit’ (FDA 2011).”
And more recently, there has been other news about the possible perils of sunscreen.
In a small 2019 pilot study published in JAMA, researchers found that some of the active ingredients in sunscreen are absorbed into the body and bloodstream. Avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene and ecamsule were found at levels high enough that the FDA says it’s worth testing for possible cancer risk, Time reports.
I have been hearing some of this information for years (as well as concerns from the natural health community about how nanoparticles and chemical sunblocks, which contain hormone disrupters, can affect the skin and other systems), and have opted out of using sunblock altogether.
Saving Your Skin
These rules apply to everyone in every region or continent. Try them.
- Stay out of midday sub
- Seek Shade with an umbrella
- Cover with clothes and hats
Read and follow my stories on Reedsey👇🏼👇🏼👇🏿👇🏿