Happy 4th of July! Are you ready for the sun?

This 4th of July weekend in Southern California is shaping up to be sunny and gorgeous. Here are a few resources to help you have a safe-in-the-sun weekend.

Sun Protection

Sunscreens are touted as a must-use item for people who spend time in the sun. There is no doubt that sun exposure can damage your skin, but the experts disagree about the safety and effectiveness of sunscreens. According to an article published by the Environmental Working Group, skin cancer is on the rise despite the fact that more people use sunscreen than ever before. And while studies show that squamous-cell carcinoma risk is reduced by using sunscreen regularly, there has been no demonstrated influence on basal cell carcinoma. And more worrisome, sunscreen use may increase the risk of melanoma in prolonged exposure to the sun.

Recommendation: Until scientists have a better handle on the relationship between sunscreen and skin cancer, experts recommend using physical barriers to protect yourself from sun exposure. So avoid midday sun, put on your sunglasses and hats, wear SPF clothing and stay in the shade!

Safest Sunscreens

When you do choose to wear sunscreen, the EWG recommends using products that offer broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB radiation and don’t contain harmful ingredients that can penetrate the skin.  Ingredients to avoid include oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate and insect repellent.  Instead look for zinc, titanium dioxide or avobenzone in the ingredient list.

Also, be sure to avoid SPF above 50+ and sprays and powders.  Products with a high SPF (50+) are misleading.  They may suppress sunburn for a longer period of time but they won’t prevent other types of skin damage.  Sprays and powders expose the user to tiny particles that aren’t safe to breathe.  Instead look for creams, broad-spectrum protection, water-resistance and SPF 30+ for the beach and pool.

For the best beach and sport sunscreens, visit the EWG’s website:  Best Beach & Sport Sunscreens.

The EWG also provides an excellent database of sunscreens, updated just in time for the 4th of July, that allows you to search for your favorite sunscreens and see how they measure up:  EWG’s Sunscreen Database.

Beach Water Quality

For those of you who plan to hit the waves or play in the water this weekend, be sure to check out Heal the Bay’s Annual Beach Report Card.  Heal the Bay analyzes the water quality along the west coast of the United States and publishes a report card, updated weekly, grading over 500 beaches.  The A to F grades are based on bacteria analysis.  Search for your local beach here:  Heal the Bay Beach Report Card.

Have a fun, safe and sane 4th of July!

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