Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cheap Sunscreen- Or Don't

Summer's here (at least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere) and parents are looking for ways to stay safe from the sun. Sunscreen is the obvious solution for many, as the sun's ultra violet rays can cause lots of harm to your skin. Sunscreen is so expensive; frugal people have long tried to find out cheaper alternatives.

Sunscreen is a Scam

Would you trust a "scientific" study sponsored by a company who stands to benefit most from the findings? I know I sure wouldn't. I would highly doubt the impartiality of such a study.

Yet people take the recommendations of the Skin Cancer Foundation to use sunscreen without contemplating the fact this organization's main sponsors are sunscreen companies.
Even with the rampant advertising of the sunscreen industry and the prevalent usage of this product, the rate of malignant skin cancer caused by UVA rays has been increasing, not decreasing (sources below). Sunscreen simply doesn't do a decent job of preventing skin from harmful UV rays, but people are lulled into a false sense of protection because they slathered on some sun "block".
By using sunscreen, people feel that they're protected from harm's way, and end up spending too many hours under the dangerous cancer causing rays. Sunburn works as your body's warning to you that you've been in the sun too long- block the sunburn and you'll still be getting the cancer causing rays, only you don't realize it because you see no burn.
To top it all off, sunscreens are filled with all sorts of toxic chemicals which are detrimental to your health.

Sunscreen Alternative- Cover Up

I live in a hot country. Very hot with lots of sun. In the four years I've been here, we've never put on sunscreen even once, and among the 4 members of my family, we've had a grand total of 3 very mild sunburns (and no, we're not dark skinned).

Sunscreen is a waste. It doesn't work. Especially if you don't use it as per instructions- one shot glass of sunscreen per person, liberally applied every 2-3 hours and more frequently once wet or sweating. Using the required amount of sunscreen will be quite expensive, as you'll be going through that sun "protection" like water.
Don't use sunscreen. Simply stay out of the sun.
In hot countries, there often is a midday siesta, a break during the hottest, sunniest part of the day. The wisdom in this is that when the sun is beating down strongly, stay out of the sun as much as possible.
Sit in the shade. Go outside when the sun is not directly overhead; go to beaches, parks, and outdoor pools in the early morning or late afternoon.

When you must go outside during the heat of the day, cover up. Traditional dress in extra sunny regions tends to be a lot more modest than the standard revealing tank top and shorts that is the summer wear in the US. These people know what they're doing. Long sleeves, long pants, and a hat that shields both your neck and face from the sun is the ideal sun gear. Go with breezy and lightweight fabrics to keep cooler.
And skip tanning on the beach.

Sure, you might get a little hot. Better be a bit more uncomfortable now than die of skin cancer later.
Don't use sunscreen. Simply cover up. That's my simple solution for you this Saturday.


ETA: Environmental Working Group's scientific research.  http://www.ewg.org/node/26776 http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/sunscreens 
NY Times also shares issues with sunscreen. http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/05/what-we-still-dont-know-about-sunscreens/
I first read about this in the article- Sunscam. While the article is a bit old by now and is a drop out of date, read here how melanoma rates are still rising, despite new toxic chemicals being added to sunscreen to supposedly block UVA rays. Read more about improper use of sunscreen here.

This is not intended as medical advice; you should always consult your doctor in matters of skin protection.


  1. Just discovered your site. Wonderful ideas!

    I live in Arizona, and I don't like using sun screen as my skin is sensitive and I have vitiligo. Like you said, I cover up, and use an umbrella. We don't have rain too often, so I might as well use it for something!

  2. Just found your site. Keep up the wonderful work!

    I live in Arizona and I also don't like to use sun screen. My skin is sensitive and I have vitiligo. I make use of cover ups and my trusty umbrella. Don't need it for rain too much out here!


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