Burning questions: How to pick the right sunscreen — and which ones to avoid
Star Tribune June 13, 2016
Watch out for two common — and potentially toxic — ingredients: oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate. Oxybenzone is a hormone disrupter that mimics estrogen.
Retinyl palmitate, a form of Vitamin A, is said to bolster the body’s defense system against ultraviolet A rays. But, Lunder cautioned, a federal study found that animals exposed to this ingredient and UV light had more skin tumors and lesions than other animals whose skin was not treated with it.
“No sunscreen can reliably protect you for more than two hours,” Lunder said, “so nobody needs an SPF value of higher than 50.”
lotions offer better coverage than sprays, which provide only a light coating of protection. He also warned that with spray cans, it’s easy for you or your child to accidentally inhale the chemicals emitted as you apply it.
Think of sunscreen as a last resort.
Seeking shade and staying out of the direct sun during peak hours — 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — offers the best protection. Another foolproof method: Cover up. Wear a hat, sunglasses and lightweight clothing.
“Wearing a light shirt offers better and more stable protection from UV rays than sunscreen,” Lunder said. “Our goal is for people to have a more realistic expectation of what kind of protection sunscreen offers — to not rely on it as a first line of defense.”
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