A new study has found that an overwhelming amount of sunscreens on the market contain an ingredient that speeds cancerous cell growth. That’s right: sunscreen might cause cancer, the very thing people lather it on to protect themselves from.

 These results come from the EWG Sunscreen Guide 2010. It is kind of scary to think that what we use to “protect” us from the harmful uv rays of the sun is actually causing and speeding up cancerous cell growth. That is why it is so important as consumers to stay educated on the products we buy for ourselves and our families.

According to that study, nearly half of the 500 most popular sunscreens may actually increase the speed at which malignant cells develop and spread skin cancer such as melanoma.

Why? Because they contain Vitamin A, an ingredient that was added to sunscreen formulations because it’s an antioxidant that slows skin aging.

Check the product label. Make sure your sunscreen includes zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which act as physical barriers and keep ultraviolet light out best.

Don’t worry about SPF. Sun protection factor is not regulated by the FDA, and as it turns out, sunscreens with a high SPF — like 70, 80, or 100+ — really don’t work any better than those half its count. “The difference between SPF 30 and SPF 60 is maybe five percent,” Rendon says. “Those with lighter complexion, freckles, or red hair should use SPF 45 to 50 with good UVA and UVB blockage. For normal complexions, SPF 30 is just fine.”

Don’t under-do it.A shot glass is the right amount, and reapply every two hours,” she says, adding that you can’t really ever put on too much.

Remember that sunscreen isn’t the only armor against sun damage. “You have to be conscious of sun exposure,” Rendon warns. “Wear hats and sun-protective clothing.”

Look for European brands.It’s true that Europe has better sunscreens because they process ingredients faster than we do,” she admits.

The above from, Dr. Marta Rendon, a board-certified dermatologist and global spokesperson for Procter & Gamble’s Head and Shoulders division, is definitely great advice. I have done some research and even though European Brand sunscreens are better they are a bit pricey; between $20 and $30 for a 50ml bottle of sunscreen.  

That is the average price of a UV Skinz swim shirt that will last a growing child one to two years and an adult at least 5 or more. Making the decision to purchase a couple of swim shirts that provide chemical-free and broad-spectrum uv protection is called being smart about your money and your health!

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