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Yay!! Summer is here and I am beyond thrilled. Winter can be pretty tough living up here on the mountain. We get tons of snow, lots of cold, and quite a few sunless days. But now, as I look out at the beautiful clear sky and see the sun warming up the earth around me, I smile but I also know that I have to be careful and diligent about protecting my skin and implement sun safety tactics in order to keep my skin and my health happy. And so should you.
Yes, the sun feels amazing. There is even something therapeutic about those golden rays. We all know it’s important to wear sunscreen every day, not only to help prevent skin cancer (which I had a fight with not too long ago) but also because, sadly, sun exposure is the number one cause of premature aging. As you slather on that sunscreen you should also be aware that there are some skin care ingredients that you should avoid when heading out on a beautiful day.
Vitamin A derivatives:
Retinol is a phenomenal anti aging ingredient but should only be used at night. Studies have shown that when retinol is applied to the skin and then exposed to sunlight the chances of developing melanoma (a type of skin cancer) increase.
Retinyl Palmitate is another vitamin A derivative that has some great benefits for the skin, but once again should not be worn during the day. You will find many sunscreens that contain this ingredient due to it’s antioxidant properties. However, a study conducted by the NTP (National Toxicology Program) in 2009 found that when retinyl palmitate is exposed to sunlight there is a higher risk of skin cancer.
Please check out this article at EWG (Environmental Working Group): The Problem with Vitamin A
Phototoxic Essential Oils:
Essential oils can be amazing for your skin and offer an incredible number of benefits such as diminishing wrinkles, decreasing acne, firming the skin, etc. But there are a number of essential oils that should be avoided when heading out into the sun. Some essential oils are phototoxic and can cause photosensitization. They can cause redness, swelling, rashes, and more. The following oils should be left out of your skin care routine if you plan on spending any time in the sun. If you do apply any of these phototoxic oils, you should avoid being out in the sun for 48 hours.
- Bergamot Essential Oil
- Grapefruit Essential Oil
- Bitter Orange Essential Oil
- Cold Pressed Lemon Essential Oil
- Cold Pressed Lime Essential Oil
I recommend checking out these two great articles on phototoxic essential oils – Phototoxic Essential Oils, How to Stay Safe in the Sun and Essential Oil and the Sun
Chemical Sunscreen Ingredients:
Synthetic chemicals often used in sunscreens can get into your bloodstream and can cause toxic side effects not only to your skin, but to your health as well.
Some of the guilty chemicals to look for are listed below:
- OMC (Octyl methoxycinnamate)
Getting out in the sun not only lifts your spirits, improves your mood, and just plain feels good, but it is also necessary for getting your vitamin D (actually a hormone and not a vitamin.) You just need to arm yourself with the facts and protect your skin the “safe” way.