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I suppose it is a bit late in the season to spring this on you, but your sunscreen could be doing you as much harm as good. I have been reading the very helpful sunscreen related pages on the Environmental Working Group site. Typically for health and beauty products, you are usually being sold ineffective and dangerous products at high prices.

The first thing to look for on your sunscreen ingredient list is “retinyl palmitate” or “retinol.” These are forms of vitamin A, which are anti-oxidants. This is wonderful in a lotion that you might put on at bedtime, but exposure to UV light makes it a possible carcinogen. How counterproductive.

The other ingredient to look for is oxybenzone. It is an endocrine mimicking chemical that can disrupt your normal hormonal balance.

And of course there is the SPF number, boldly and proudly displayed on the front of the packaging. Any number above 50 is essentially meaningless. SPF 70 won’t allow you to stay out in the sun twice as long as SPF 35. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t buy it; just don’t pay extra for it or expect a proportional performance increase out of it.

I recommend that you read the product lists on the EWG site, both good and bad, and make an informed decision about the chemical mix you smear on your skin.

And wear a broad brimmed hat.

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