Remember the good old days, when you would bake in the sun’s glorious rays, a Scrabble board wrapped in tinfoil, held strategically under your neck, so as not to block your well baby oiled body?
Wrinkles weren’t even a thought.
Skin cancer, who heard of it? Surely, not my grandmother, whose bronzed body was a fixture on the beaches of NJ, year after year.
Ignorance was bliss, and a well tanned body.
Not so much, anymore. Nowadays, we’re scared to bare our skin and spray all sorts of chemical concoctions all over our bodies in an effort not to die (and look younger).
But as it turns out, it’s not working. At least, not according to the article on the NY Times health blog, The New Rules for Sunscreen. In fact, even though we are slathering on the sunscreen more than ever, skin cancer rates just keep climbing, for reasons you can read about yourself.
However, the most disturbing parts of the article, come at the end, in the bulleted section meant to advise consumers in their sunscreen purchases. First, Vitamin A, often touted on labels as an antioxidant, i.e., something that is suppose to combat free radicals and save your skin, could actually cause more harm than good.
It’s possible that the sun could cause vitamin A not only to age you prematurely, but to actually increase sun damage. I have read this before on health sites like The Environmental Working Group (warning, if you visit this page, you may find yourself throwing out more than just your sunscreen), however, being a skeptic in nature, I’m not always sure how much to believe and how much is just fear mongering. Complicating matters, are all those articles about what’s in the dermatologist’s medicine cabinet. If you’ve ever been any type of regular reader of women’s magazines, then I’m sure you’ve seen them too. If not, the basic premise is that the magazine interviews a dermatologist about what products she uses on a daily basis, and caps it off with a picture of pristine and organized medicine cabinet. I always read these articles with the thought that if the skin doctor uses it, surely it can’t be bad, and nine times out of ten, some type of mega-antioxidant sunscreen, usually Neutrogena, is in their arsenal.
Sprays, may not be such a hot idea, either. Apparently, I wasn’t crazy when I wondered what I was inhaling, as I stood immersed in a cloud of sunscreen spray in an effort to protect my skin. Of course, with only my children around (who haven’t proved to be very adept at sunscreen application), at the pool, this might be a hard habit to break, unless I want my back to be fried.
But the most disturbing fact, is in the last bullet (taken directly from the article):
■ Take endorsements and seals of approval with a grain of salt. The Skin Cancer Foundation gives a “seal of recommendation” to sunscreens, but only if their manufacturer has donated $10,000 to become a member of the organization.
Seriously? I know I said I was a skeptic, but if I saw the Skin Cancer Foundation’s seal of approval, I’d take it at face value, at least, I would have, until I read this. Something tells me that a ten thousand dollar buy in to get a seal of approval is chump change to most companies that manufacture sunscreen. I’m sorry, but it’s really hard to be a good consumer when you can’t trust the source.
And we wonder why we have so many conspiracy theorists in the world.
As for me, I think I’ll be skipping the Vitamin A thing this year, revisiting all my moisturizers that contain SPF, and consulting the EWG for a sunscreen recommendation. Something tells me that they won’t be easy to find, or cheap, but at least (I hope), they will do the job.