Last week we talked about the differences between sunscreen and sunblock, concerns, and misunderstandings. Today we dig deeper and offer solutions.
Sunscreen works because of a chemical reaction. Those chemicals can now be found in most of our blood and most of the breastmilk tested. Some of those chemicals are hormone receptors. Not good news.
Also, sunscreens and sunblocks contribute to our already low levels of vitamin D. If used properly, sunscreens and sunblocks reduce vitamin D absorption by as much as 99%, which is especially problematic for:
- people with autism. Their symptoms can increase when vitamin D deficient. Or
- women when they are pregnant. There is evidence that if the mom is vitamin D deficient during pregnancy, there’s a higher risk of the child having autism.
So, why are we wearing sunscreen or sunblock? Let me remind you: To prevent a burn and reduce damage to the skin which contributes to skin cancer and wrinkles.
So, what’s the answer? If we wear it, there could be problems. If we don’t wear it, there could be problems.
Today, let’s summarize the pros, cons, and alternatives.
There is no decision that we can make that doesn't come with some sort of balance or sacrifice.
Action Ideas for safer sun-time
- If using sunscreen, go with an SPF of 30-50. Anything higher than 50 increases the active ingredients and often doesn’t increase the protection by as much as we have been led to believe.
- You don’t need a separate children’s version. The ingredients are about the same and in the same ratio.
- We get a false sense of security by wearing sunscreen or sunblock. We think we can stay out for a much, much longer time in the sun if we have put on any protection.
The scary bits
- Because of our indoor lifestyle, even those who live in the sunbelts can be deficient in Vit D.
- As mentioned in the intro, vitamin D deficiency of the pregnant woman has been linked to the child later developing autism. Also, vitamin D deficiency appears to the increase in severity of symptoms of those with autism.
- Sunscreen, especially, has a negative impact on some living creatures. For example, coral begins to die within 96 hours of exposure to low levels of sunscreen. What is it doing to us that we don’t know about?
1. If you want to use sunscreen/sunblock
- For tactile defensive kids, talk a lot about sunscreen prior to needing it. The reasons why it’s needed, the options (spray, stick, lotion), how it gets put on, the need to reapply and when is it not needed.
- Is it better if the child puts it on themselves? Or does certain parts?
- Make a game out of it – apply by making someone a stripy tiger or a spotted giraffe.
- If decision fatigue isn’t a problem, allow choices along the way: which type of sunblock, which hat, which clothing, which water bottle, etc.
- If your child burns very easily, you might want to use a sunscreen lip balm on the lips and around the eyes instead of the regular sunblock. Regular sunblock can burn if it gets into the eyes.
- Go here for healthier product options.
2. If you want an alternative to using sunscreen/sunblock
- Mainly, avoid being in the midday sun: 11 a.m.-1 p.m., or to ensure more safety, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- Give options for other skin protection, such as hats, long sleeve shirts versus short sleeve shirts, pants versus shorts. For someone who is tactile sensitive, a breeze can cause problems and there is a preference for the body to be covered.
- Discuss activities that could be done in the shade during midday and activities during non-midday hours.
- Initially limit the time outside, especially if it’s a new season with the sun.
- Buy sunscreen clothing with SPF 50 (Sunclothes) or make regular clothing into sun-protected clothing with Rit Sun Guard Laundry Treatment UV Protectant (I’ve never used this treatment and haven’t investigated it. Use at your own discretion. If you have used it or something similar, please share your experience below).
- There are natural oils that provide some sunblock and might be tolerated better than the manufactured products. Oils can be mixed with non-nano zinc oxide for better protection. The difficulty with choosing an oil is two-fold: the quality of the oil and the quality of the tests that have been done to determine the SPF. Some of the testings are suspect.
Regardless of what you put on/don’t put on, when you go our/don’t go out, eat healthy fats and a wide variety of whole food to give you body the building blocks to maintain or repair your skin.
If all of this feels like not-good pressure on your and your kids, maybe some feel-good pressure would help? Check out our pressure vests. They’re convenient and can be worn with or without the shoulder straps.
Regardless of how you deal with the sun, get outside for a bit each day. It does us so much good, physically, and emotionally, and it's free.
Providing calmness & comfort, learning & laughter,
P.S. What has been your experience with the sun? Any suggestions?
I have the very good fortune of tanning easily so I seldom burn. I also try to schedule my day so I'm not out in the midday sun in the summer. I might plan to be indoors or do something in the shade (like having to relax and read a book😄). That still gives me lots of time to be out in the sun
I'd love to hear more about what you do for the summer sun, if anything, but if you can’t think of anything to say, then please tell me if you now have a new summer hairdo (courtesy of covid), and how you're liking it.
For me, it was good timing. I had my hair cut in February and it was a tad too short. Now I will have flexibility at my next cut.😊