Friday, 30 March 2012

to screen or not to screen

Having just come back from a beach holiday, sun, sun burn, sun tan, sun block have all been on my mind a lot lately, especially with two little kids with precious perfect skin to protect and because I have been treated surgically for skin cancer.

Remember the good old bad days when we didn't wear sun block, or worse, we used sun tan lotion- chemical formulations designed to accelerate or enhance the bronzing effects of the sun? I think I just dated myself there.

When I found out I was pregnant with my first child I researched sunblock as I wanted to make sure that whatever I was putting on my skin would be safe not only for me-- and prevent a return of the dreaded carcinoma, for which I sport a large scar on my forehead-- but would also be safe for my unborn, and safe to use on the baby. I found this one: Soleo Organics

It received a "Safe" rating on the cosmetics database, which is why I ordered it. However, I found it difficult to apply. It was also hard to find; I had to order it from a company in Ontario, and it was very expensive- about $30 for a very small tube that didn't last very long if you applied it like you are supposed to

But strangely, I started to wonder if I wasn't burning more rapidly once I was wearing the sunscreen than if I was not wearing any.

Around the same time, there was a flurry of articles that came out questioning the efficacy and safety of sunscreens. The question was raised about whether or not sunscreens were causing the very sorts of cancers we were hoping to avoid by wearing sunscreen!

Last summer, I decided to go with a "Safe" ish brand for my son. I also tried to keep him out of the sun between 10- 2:00, and limit his exposure to the harmful rays by wearing appropriate clothing- a u.v. swim suit, hat, etc... But then I started to worry that by doing so, I was now preventing him from absorbing Vitamin D, which is so critical for us to absorb, especially for us northerners who have limited opportunities to be exposed to it.

As coincidence often occurs, this article from Peaceful Parenting came across my desktop the day after we returned from our beach vacation in Cuba. It's from 2010, and I believe I have read it before, but it warrants revisiting, as the summer months approach and I start thinking about protecting my kids and myself from both the harmful effects of the sun and harmful chemicals, while still enjoying our all too brief summer.

Safe-ish isn't good enough. It has to be safe. It has to be effective.

This website from EWG is a great resource for finding safe cosmetics products of any kind, but this link takes you to the page on sunscreen.

Peaceful Parenting also offers a list of readers' favorites here.

Australians have long been hip to the joys and dangers of the sun and have been more proactive than North Americans and Europeans in the movement toward sun protection. Some scary and useful information on nano-particles in sunscreen can be found here.

I've heard that using coconut oil can be effective as it is a natural sunblock and is of course good for the brain and skin. But its natural spf factor is low, so exposure to the sun while wearing coconut oil needs to be limited and carefully watched. Natural Shea butter also has a low spf natural protection ability.

I'm interested in your experiences and hearing from you if you have any further information to share!

xo Jo

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