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Why you shouldn’t use sunscreen

Lori Wilson is a SheKnows.com Home & Living columnist, as well as a freelance writer in Los Angeles, who after a lifetime of enduring harsh Michigan winters, relishes the warmth year round.

Let it shine

We've been told for years that outdoor living, especially during the summer months, should always involve sunscreen. However, experts, like osteopathic physician, Dr. Joseph Mercola, are now saying that direct exposure to sunlight is actually good for you. Of course you should always take precautions when spending long periods of time in the sun, but the next time you go outside, you just might want to leave your sun block in the bottle.

Woman Outdoors

Who is Dr. Mercola?

Dr. Mercola is dedicated to finding long-term solutions for patients who suffer from chronic illnesses by treating the whole person, not just the symptoms. As an osteopathic physician, he focuses on preventative health care and helps patients develop attitudes and lifestyles that don't just fight illness, but also prevent it. Dr. Mercola is a fully licensed physician with degrees from the University of Illinois and the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine. He has been published in several publications including the British Medical Journal, The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association and The Journal of the American Medical. In addition, Dr. Mercola has been interviewed on his use of both traditional and natural medicine on "The Today Show," "CNN" and "ABC's World News Tonight with Peter Jennings," among others.

The case against sunscreen

Many sunscreens contain chemicals that can cause serious health problems, increasing the risk of disease. Dr. Mercola cites butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane and octyl methoxycinnamate in particular, as toxic man-made chemicals used to filter out ultraviolet A and B light respectively. These rays can be absorbed through the skin and circulate in our blood streams.

Sun block also prohibits our skin from naturally absorbing the much-needed vitamin D we receive from the sun's rays, which is imperative to our well-being.

Benefits of sun exposure

As agreed upon by Dr. Mercola and other experts in the field, the best way to reap the benefits of vitamin D is through natural sunlight. Not only does direct sunlight provide us with vitamin D, it also triggers our skin to naturally produce it ourselves. This in turn supports cardiovascular health, promotes optimal cholesterol levels, enhances muscle strength, produces optimal blood pressure levels, helps maintain healthy immune systems, supports healthy kidney function, promotes healthy teeth, and keeps our bones strong and healthy. Safe sun exposure has also been shown to protect against several types of cancer and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Natural sunscreen

While Dr. Mercola prefers you stay clear of sunscreen, he does suggest that you use it when you are out in the sun for longer than is considered safe. You are exposed to intense sunlight without the opportunity to gradually build up to it, or you can't block the sun with strategic clothing or sunshades.

If you must use sunscreen, Dr. Mercola suggests using sunblock that does not contain the following:

  • Para amino benzoic acid
  • Octyl salicyclate
  • Avobenzone
  • Oxybenzone
  • Cinoxate
  • Padimate O
  • Dioxybenzone
  • Phenylbenzimidazole
  • Homosalate
  • Sulisobenzone
  • Menthyl anthranilate
  • Trolamine salicyclate
  • Octocrylene
  • Dioxybenzone
  • Oxybenzone

One product he recommends is called Natural Sunscreen. It is 100% all natural and each ingredient serves its own special purpose to nourish, protect and moisturize your skin. Natural Sunscreen is water resistant, hypoallergenic, free of chemical fragrances, free of parabens (harsh chemical preservatives), reflects UV rays away from your skin, and is free of nanoparticles, which is what makes standard sunscreens less visible on your skin.

Sun safety

While too much sun can cause damage, your sunscreen can as well. So the next time you bask in the sun's rays, trade your run of the mill sunscreen in for a more natural alternative, or don't use any at all. Just don't stay out too long!

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