Do you think you are sunscreen savvy?

Are you wearing safe sunscreen?  Many years ago, there was a lack of education regarding the damaging effects of too much sun, and most of us over a certain age remember (all too painfully) burned backs and noses, because we were not made to wear sunscreen.  As a result of this, the majority of us today have freckles, liver spots and other types of skin damage, the worst being skin cancer.  Since then, thankfully, parents are all too aware of the damage that the sun can cause and many children can be heard whining as their parents smear various concoctions on them!

With continuing environmental education regarding the world we live in there is now a movement to ban certain sunscreens, because they contain potentially harmful chemicals which could be the cause of damage to our delicate reefs.  So, what should we do?

Continue to wear sunscreen!  Especially, when staying in a vacation rental in Florida!  Orlando summer temperatures can reach over 100degF.  Couple that with playing in the sea, sunbathing and swimming – the chance of getting sunburned is extremely likely.  Plus, wearing a biodegradable sun screen will helpt to keep your rental villa pool crystal clear.  How do you find a safe sun screen when there are so many to choose from?

Example of reef bleaching

Things to be wary of are:

  • Price:  Of course price matters, but a greater cost doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy.  The handy spray cans are great but are usually more expensive (for ease and convenience), they don’t last very long and they are terrible for our Earth’s atmosphere.  Plus, some of them contain toxins and chemicals you shouldn’t put on your garden, let alone your skin!!  If you have to pay a little extra for a sunscreen that is healthy for you AND the planet; that sounds like a good investment.
  • BOGO!  Don’t let the idea of “two for the price of one” lure you into purchasing something that you ordinarily wouldn’t buy and might not be good for you, or the ecosystem.
  • Always Read The Label!  Try not to buy anything containing oxybenzone, butylparaben, octinoxate or 4-methylbenzylidine camphor, as these chemicals may be linked with coral bleaching in Florida, and around the world, and have also been potentially linked with various skin cancers.
  • Confusing jargon: Just because an item is identified as biodegradable does not mean it is “non-toxic.  Look for the Non-GMO sticker.  Non-GMO means non-genetically modified organisms. GMOs, are new organisms created in a laboratory using genetic modification/engineering techniques.  Buying products certified as Non-GMO gives you better assurance that the item you are buying does not use banned substances.  Organic products are also a good way to avoid GMOs, but buying organic, primarily, means the substances used to make the product have no harmful pesticides or other nasty ingredients.
  • Size does matter!  When you are talking sunscreens.  The higher the number, the better it is – for you.  Generally, the closer to 100 SPF stated, the better the level of protection.
  • Effectiveness:  Sun protection wouldn’t be much use if it washed off immediately upon contact with water.  Always ensure that the sunscreen you buy is “water resistant”. To provide maximum absorption, always apply sun cream at least 15 minutes before entering the water.
  • Packaging:  Everyone loves a product that is easy to use.  The aerosol sprays have a convenient “lock” feature on the nozzle, so it doesn’t go off in your bag.  They distribute a wide, fine spray of product that surely means no rubbing in and good coverage?  In fact, the majority of the spray misses the skin it’s aimed at and vanishes into thin air and what does land on the skin is of a lighter consistency than required for safe sun protection.  A pump action spray bottle is a good option.  Doesn’t get too hot to handle in the sun, has a lockable trigger for less waste and is clearly visible when on the skin.
  • Vacation rental screens keep out the sun!!:  MYTH!!  Don’t believe this common misconception.  Many rental villas in Florida have these screens and they will keep out about 18% of the sun’s rays, but they are definitely not a total block.  The main reason for the cage/screen over a pool, is to keep bugs and other unwanted critters out.

If you have forgotten sunscreen, Walt Disney World® sell it in all their parks and Universal Orlando/Islands of Adventure® have smalls bottles for sale at various shops.  Discovery Cove® strongly discourage you bringing your own sunscreen.  They provide their own ‘eco-friendly’ product that has been deemed safe for the park and animals.  Plus, there are plenty of pharmacies and grocery stores around that all have a wide selection.  Of course there are stores that may have a greater selection of organic products, such as Whole Foods®, but Publix® also has a small selection of organic and/or non-GMO products.  Of course, for the greatest selection, it’s best to use a reputable, non-GMO, organic, on-line company.

All that being said, there is no better protection for a body than wearing cover up clothes*, a hat, sunglasses and sitting in the shade.  Plus, provided you don’t lose your sunglasses in the sea, this option doesn’t hurt the planet.

* Of course, we know this isn’t going to happen!  So, think green and be sunscreen savvy