It's the peak of those summer months when sunscreen is a must. However, did you know that most sunscreens on the market contain toxic chemicals that soak through the skin and can wreak havoc in the body? Anyone with the MTHFR gene mutation needs to be extra cognizant of this, as impaired methylation means a greater tendency to store toxins, rather than flush them. It can be a bit overwhelming to figure out what type of sunscreen you and your little ones should be using, so I'm going to break it down in a way that's very simple.
There are two main types of sunscreens on the market:
1. Chemical-based (oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, octocrylene)
NO. Chemical-based sunscreens allow UV rays to be dispersed through the body and neutralize them from within. The reason chemical-based sunscreens take 20 minutes to become effective is because that time is necessary for the chemicals to soak through the skin and enter the body. Once inside, the chemicals react with the UV rays that have entered the body to neutralize them. These chemicals that are used as active ingredients have been linked to everything from allergies to hormonal disruption, including infertility, as well as destruction of the coral reefs.
2. Mineral-based (zinc oxide, titanium oxide)
YES. In comparison, mineral-based sunscreens reflect UV rays off the body like a mirror. Mineral-based sunscreens offer as much protection as chemical-based sunscreens and are effective immediately upon application. UV rays are not absorbed into the body, and neither are any harmful chemicals. These mineral ingredients are safe for the body, as well as the environment.
As you can see, mineral-based sunscreen is the safer choice. However, there is one more thing to keep in mind. Mineral-based sunscreens can leave a pasty white film on the skin. That's what drove manufacturers to create chemical-based sunscreens in the first place. A way around this problem is for manufacturers to make mineral-based sunscreens more clear and absorbable by using what's called "nano particles." This basically means that the sunscreen uses particles of the active ingredient that are very small and more easily absorbed into the body. The safety of nano-particles are, however, controversial and may negatively affect the efficiency of the product.
The safest option is to go for a mineral-based sunscreen that does not use nano particles. If this is what you're seeking, you will see "non-nano" either on the front of the packaging or as a descriptor in the ingredient list. Manufacturers of most non-nano mineral-based sunscreens have figured out how to strike a balance by using the most optimally sized particles that are both non-nano and will leave minimal residue on the skin. Another strategy is to use other natural ingredients that counteract the pastiness, such as jojoba oil.
What type of sunscreen do you use? Have you tried a mineral-based one? Tell us about it!