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Choose your sunscreen carefully

By Terri Bennett
Terri Bennett
Terri Bennett has been providing weather forecasts in the Charlotte area for more than 16 years. In September 2007, she launched Terribennett.com to serve as the single source of Terri's knowledge and expertise. She is also promoting green technology in her 'Do Your Part' campaign.

Summer is for hitting the lake with family and friends. It also has come to mean jumping through hurdles to find a sunscreen that’s safe to use.

It should be a little this year because new guidelines from the Federal Drug Administration are forcing manufacturers to remove wording that says these products are waterproof or sweat proof. Those claims might discourage consumers from reapply sunscreen after getting in the water.

Also, products labeled as broad spectrum must now protect against both types of ultraviolet rays: UVA and UVB. Antiaging products will also have to be broad spectrum with a sun protection factor, or SPF, of at least 15.

Still, consumers will have plenty of homework to do, because the FDA is not requiring changes to deal with the potentially dangerous ingredients found inside the bottle. That worries me because most sunscreens include oxybenzone as an active ingredient.

Once absorbed into the skin, oxybenzone can be converted to free radicals when exposed to sunlight. Those free radicals are being linked to problems from wrinkles to cancer.

Mineral-based sunscreens containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are an alternative that can provide powerful protection without those health concerns.

And don’t be tempted by the new spray and powder sunscreen options. As you apply these, particles can get into your lungs.

So, how can you find the right sunscreen for you? The Environmental Working Group has published a list at www.ewg.org.

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