I’ve read a bunch of information about commercial sunscreens and I have decided that I don’t want to use them. I rarely (read: never) use them myself anyway, so this more than anything is me choosing to find an alternative that isn’t quite so gross for my children. Lots of sunscreens have ingredients that are hormone disruptors and are actually changing the genders of fish in the oceans. (They rinse off in the water from beach goers.) The environmental aspects aside, that’s just nasty to put on your skin. I don’t want my skin absorbing potentially harmful chemicals. So that leads me wondering what really are the dangers of sunlight itself.
Our skin produces vitamin D from the UV rays in the sun. This is fairly widely established. Sunscreens can inhibit vitamin D production. Not getting enough vitamin D causes rickets. Definitely don’t want to mess with that. In fact, because so high a percentage of the population was working only indoors during the industrial revolution, the rickets cases in Britain skyrocketed. During the first half of the 20th century, Britain added Vitamin D as a dietary supplement to foods and after a scary resurgence of rickets after 2000, Britain started adding it to more foods. It’s a common supplement found in milk in the US, as well as some cereals. The thing is, we aren’t completely sure how much vitamin D we really need, but our bodies do. They self-regulate. The darker the skin is, the less vitamin D it produces when exposed to sunlight. When a pale person tans, some of their vitamin D converters naturally shut down, preventing their body from creating more than they need. Vitamin D in high quantities can be toxic, and there is no way to know exactly how much that is. Scary huh? And our skin doesn’t naturally start to darken as we drink milk.
So here is my response to sunscreen:
I have started using instead aloe. I use it as a preventative measure as well as if a burn occurs. The great thing is, since I’ve started spritzing my kids with aloe, they’ve tanned but they haven’t burned. It’s been a fabulous experiment for all of us. And because they are tanning, I know they’re getting enough vitamin D, but they don’t have to deal with the discomfort of a sunburn.
As far as the skin cancer concern, I’m not totally sure that the sun is causing it and not the toxic chemicals in our sunscreens. Just one of those thoughts that will probably fester. Enjoy.