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It’s summertime — which means warm (okay, hot) weather, sunshine and outdoor pickleball! Can’t beat that — unless, of course, you’re not appropriately protecting yourself from the harmful rays! Although limited dosages of the sun (perhaps 10 minutes at midday) is beneficial as it gives us essential Vitamin D — a vitamin that helps absorb calcium and promotes bone growth and helps regulate the immune and neuromuscular systems — over-exposure may be harmful and even cause premature skin aging, eye damage (including cataracts) and skin cancers.
Are you one of those players who is also out on the pickleball courts for hours on end? If you are, please arm yourself with the following information and recommendations so that you stay safe on the courts.
How Are You Protecting Yourself From The Sun?
In addition to using sunscreen, there are additional measures you can take to protect yourself from excessive exposure to the sun:
- Wear a hat with a wide brim, or a neck cover
- Wear protective clothing
- Wear UV blocking sunglasses
- Stay in the shade
- Eat a healthy diet — Yes, what you put in your body can help protect you from the sun! By choosing the right essential fatty acids, increasing your consumption of raw vegetables, and avoiding processed foods and sugars, you can protect your skin.
Chemicals Found in Commercial Sunscreens
My husband, Todd, spends a lot of time outside in the sun playing pickleball. In addition to seemingly countless hours playing, he also coaches pickleball and gives lessons. Needless to say, he’s exposed to a lot of sun. He wears a hat and he also applies sunscreen — but not just any sunscreen. We use sunscreen that isn’t filled with toxic chemicals.
What type of sunscreen do you use? It’s unfortunate, but sunscreens loaded with chemicals can also harm you.
Before buying sunscreen, I do my research. I know how harmful the chemicals in products can be. I am very sensitive to chemicals. My body just doesn’t like them!
Two of the harmful chemicals found in many commercial sunscreens are oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate.
Oxybenzone is a hormone disruptor that is absorbed through our skin. It was found in nearly 2/3 of the sunscreens that the Environmental Working Group (EWG) — a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment — examined. Oxybenzone poses such a threat to us and the environment that action has been taken in Hawaii and at the outdoor retailer, REI to not offer products with the ingredient.
Another common ingredient found in commercial sunscreen is retinyl palmitate, a form of Vitamin A. You might think that’s a good thing since Vitamin A is an anti-oxidant that can slow skin aging. However, when it’s used on skin exposed to sunlight, it can form free radicals and speed up the development of skin cancer. (Ladies, be sure to check your cosmetics for this ingredient if you wear it while being in the sun for long periods of time).
The Environmental Working Group’s List of Safe Sunscreens
It may seem overwhelming to select a safe sunscreen. Fortunately, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) comes out with a list of “safe” sunscreens every year.
If you’re unfamiliar with the EWG, I highly recommend checking out all of the valuable information they provide on their website. In addition to sunscreens, they evaluate the toxicity and safety of cosmetics, detergents, laundry products, soaps and so much more.
The EWG recommends many sunscreens which are mineral-based instead of chemical-based. Mineral sunscreens are typically made with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These minerals stay on the surface of your skin. They deflect sunlight away from your skin.
With chemical sunscreens, the chemicals absorb the UV radiation into your skin and then dissipate it via a chemical reaction under the skin.
Recommended Sunscreens Without All of the Added Chemicals
For your convenience, shown below are a few recommended sunscreens per the Environmental Working Group that are found on Amazon. If you would rather, you should also be able to find them at your local retailers, such as Target, Walmart, CVS, etc. All of these recommended sunscreens received a “1” rating in the EWG sunscreen guide. A score of 1 means that the product is low-hazard (the best score). When rating a product, the EWG considers 6 criteria, including ‘UV Protection’, ‘Health Concerns’ and ‘Other Concerns.’
For a complete listing of the recommended safe sunscreens in addition to ingredient information, check out the EWG sunscreen guide.
Be sure to have a safe sunscreen on hand while having fun on the pickleball courts! See you on the courts!