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Skin care expert Helena Lane weighs in on the best sunscreens

Yes, conventional sunscreens are a health hazard. Boo.

So this summer I switched to an organic  brand called Goddess Garden and phoned up my go to expert on skin care Helena Lane to get more clarity on this issue.

What is the problem with conventional sunscreens?

1. As with most conventional cosmetic products, the base of the sunscreen creams or lotions likely contain ingredients that irritate the skin or are toxic.

I’m extra wary of these ingredients in sunscreens because we apply them numerous times a day and many of the ingredients can become increasingly toxic in the light and heat of the sun.

2. Many of the active ingredients in the sunscreen have been linked with cancer formation and other issues. One of the most widely used sunscreen ingredients is oxybenzone.

According to Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database oxybenzone can cause biochemical or cellular level changes, developmental/reproductive toxicity and endocrine disruption. It is a nasty product that is also found in many baby products as well.

2. There appears to be some confusion as to whether sunscreen is necessary or not. What are your thoughts?

In my opinion sunscreen may not be the best way to prevent skin cancer but it is the best way to stop your skin from burning.

Burning and therefore damaging your skin is also not a good idea. The safest thing to do is stay out of the sun from about 10am to 5pm or stay completely covered with tightly woven fabrics. This however is not entirely practical so sometimes sunscreen is definitely necessary.

I also believe in eating the right foods to boost your skin’s natural sunscreen potential – lots of the brightly coloured fruits and vegetables that are available in the summer months.

3. If we do choose to use sunscreen, how can we look for efficient natural products?

There are some pretty tight rules in North America about what can be sold as a natural sunscreen so as long as it is for sale it should work. The key is to use it properly. Most people get burned not because they don’t use sunscreen but because they don’t use enough and don’t reapply regularly enough.

Choose products with short ingredient lists and with the active ingredient zinc oxide. I like the brands Green Beaver (their spray is currently my favourite as its so easy to use), Badger, Goddess Garden, and Aubrey. Some are now available at London Drugs, and all are available at Whole Foods Market.

** the smart foodie recommendation: The Goddess Garden cream leaves an undesirable white film on my skin so please keep this in mind when choosing your products and perhaps consider the spray instead.

4. Will you be creating a sun screen for your product line?

Yes I will! I have it almost complete but it’s a tricky one to get 100%. Expect it next year.

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