18 May 5 Reasons to Swap Your Sunscreen If You’re Pregnant or Trying To Conceive
The sun is finally here (yay!) and we’re told we need to protect our skin from the sun in order to stay safe in the sun.
The trouble is, what goes on our skin is absorbed into your blood stream. It’s important to pay as much attention to the ingredients of your creams, as you do to what goes on your plate.
You may already be avoiding conventional beauty products such as shampoo, makeup and body lotions due to the potential toxic effect of ingredients such as parabens and phthalates. We know these have the potential to cause issues with fertility, but what about sunscreen? Again, you should be looking for non-toxic alternatives to the conventional products out there.
The different types of sunscreen
There are two types of sunscreen; chemical sunscreen and mineral sunscreen.
Chemical sunscreens contain different UV filters that are absorbed into the skin to protect against UV rays. The chemicals degrade in the sun and must be absorbed before they can offer you protection. This is why the recommendation is to apply it 20-30 minutes before sun exposure, and to reapply frequently.
Here’s what you need to know.
Chemical sunscreen is detrimental to fertility and the developing foetus.
These are the 5 reasons why:
1. One of the main concerns with chemical sunscreen is that studies have found UV filters to cause adverse reproductive effects. For example, one of the most commonly used UV filters, oxybenzone, has been shown to cause decreased sperm density and increased number of abnormal sperm.
2. Oxybenzone has also been linked to developmental issues such as low birth weight in girls.
3. Oxybenzone can be detected in the urine, blood and breast milk of humans after just one application. Since these chemicals are absorbed into the bloodstream, it’s possible that they may also become toxic to the rest of our bodies. Many of the chemical sunscreens are unstable when exposed to UV radiation, and can form free radicals. These can cause oxidative damage. Oxidative damage may cause harm to the developing egg or foetus.
4. Oxybenzone contributes to coral reef death worldwide. Hawaii has recently banned chemical sunscreen to protect their ocean life.
5. Some conventional sunscreens contain aluminium, which is a potential toxin to the developing brain. There’s also a concern that aluminium sunscreen might contribute to oxidative damage to the skin, increasing the risk of cancer.
So, what’s the alternative? Mineral sunscreen is safer
Mineral sunscreen consists either of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. It sits on your skin as a physical barrier, starts working immediately on application and lasts all day until it’s washed off.
The main issue with these is that they tend to make you look white. This is the reason why they aren’t as popular as the chemical sunscreens. Some manufacturers have tried to get around this issue by formulating their sunscreens with nano-particles of zinc. These are essentially very small particles, making it less obvious to the eye. The trouble with these nano-particles is that they may be absorbed into the skin and we don’t yet know enough about what these particles are capable of doing once inside us. There’s also concern about he effectiveness in protecting against the sun’s harmful rays from these nano-particles.
In order to stay perfectly safe, choose a sun screen containing zinc oxide but not the nano-particle form (it will say on the list of ingredients).
Top tips for safe summer skin
- Use a mineral sunscreen containing zinc oxide or zinc in combination with titanium dioxide, and no other UV filters.
- Avoid sunscreens containing retinyl palmitate (synthetic Vitamin A), parabens and synthetic fragrances.
- If in doubt, check if your sunscreen is listed on the ‘Think Dirty’ app. You can check ingredients and their individual safety rating via this app.
- Avoid spray suncreens (even mineral) as there are concerns of toxicity, particularly in the lungs, if inhaled.
- Stay in the shade to protect yourself from the sun with hats, umbrellas and loose-fitting clothes.
- Minimize time in the sun between the peak hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
I’ve tried a number of natural sunscreens over the years and there aren’t many that are both effective and feel nice on the skin.
Some of my favourite brands include:
- Dr Mercola
- Badger. Badger do creams as well as sticks, which are great for keeping in your handbag (the tangerine and vanilla ones smells divine).
- Jason do quite a few sunscreens, some of which do contain toxic ingredients and endocrine disruptors but the Jason Earth’s Best Baby Mineral Sunblock SPF30 is a good choice.
- Face creams are more tricky but I’ve recently discovered the Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream with an SPF30, it’s expensive but it’s the best I’ve been able to find.
Hope that helps! Have fun in the sun,