We’ve all seen the news in recent weeks: Commercially manufactured sunscreens are being blamed for a spate of serious chemical reactions causing burns on people from 14 months to 5 years right up to teens and men and women of all stages, and the reports are coming from multiple countries.
This seems too coincidental to be “user error” or even people hopping on the blame-game bandwagon when they suffer a horrible burn because they have used the product incorrectly (or not applied often enough). Add to that, some of the blistering that is shown in the photos found online are very dramatic and do not appear to look like any sunburn I’ve ever suffered or even seen.
As a parent, it definitely makes me think that our reliance on sunscreen to protect ourselves and our kids is very heavy. Too heavy. And of course it is; for the last 30 years we have been inundated with warnings about the sun’s rays, and every year it seems that sunscreens are getting more powerful and potent and we are being told to use the stronger sunblocks, especially on our most vulnerable – small children.
This year we have seen a shift. A lot of experts are now saying that a 60 sunblock does no more than a 30 sunblock, and that the key is to apply often. But now with all the news of sunscreens CAUSING the burns, people are not applying more often. So we are risking sunburns or over-exposure to harmful rays. Which isn’t good. The other problem is that commercially made sunscreens most often contain harmful chemicals and xenoestrogens, hormone disruptors that cause an excess of estrogen and are harmful for men, women and children. These exist in too many cleaning and body products on the market, so many people are trying to get away from them.
That leaves people and parents concerned about the sun’s rays looking for alternatives. Well, let’s see if I can offer some suggestions, and help you out (and me as well).
First of all, it is said that one can – and should – get moderate exposure to the sun without causing harm. 15 minutes is recommended before one is at risk on non-warning days. It’s also not so bad to have some exposure as we also require vitamin D from the sun’s rays. So we should not block it out entirely. So you might consider using zinc oxide on parts of the body that are particularly vulnerable, such as noses, ears, shoulders, and the tops of feet.
For the legs, arms and trunks, one could apply coconut oil or even carrot seed or raspberry seed oil. There are recipes easily available online where these have been combined, or you can find natural sunscreens that have been made with these ingredients at local health food stores. Coconut oil is also very good for the lips – it will protect them naturally and moisturize as well.
It seems obvious but I’m going to state it anyway; light flowing cotton clothing is a great protector if you’re in strong sun. Even long sleeves on a cover up do not feel too hot if the material is loose and has lots of ventilation. A lot of parents are also using swim shirts now on their kids. It protects their tender backs and bellies, and it’s a great way to be able to spot which little one is yours if they’re playing in the sand on a busy beach.
Then there is always our friend shade. Yes you still get the sun’s rays this way, but you won’t get a blistering burn.
I encourage you to seek natural remedies. There are many reasons that commercially manufactured sunblocks are bad for us; not just the recent news about burns. These are even bad for the natural environment and should not be washed off into lakes and oceans to harm the wildlife.
Whatever the case, get out there and enjoy the remainder of the Summer and early Fall. Have fun on sunny days when they come around, get active and have family time. Just remember to be safe about it.
- Karen Gasbarino-Knutt (I am not a doctor, so this is not a prescription. It’s just advice from a parent and overall active person).