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Sun, Screens and Summer Dreams

How to navigate the sunscreen aisle

We all dream of summer's arrival. This wonderful time of the year represents downtime, vacations, get-togethers, and fun in the sun. But is your skin loving summer as much as you are? UV light - those damaging invisible rays - are relentless whether the sun is out or not. Clouds won't protect you. Being indoors by a window won't protect you. Wherever summer takes you, the single-most important item you should take is not a swim suit, it's a sun suit - a protective shield for your skin. So, how do you choose the best shield in a world full of options - physical, chemical, tinted, spray, 30spf, 75spf? If you are having a hard time selecting the best sunscreen, you're not alone. Not even the experts agree on this. Here are some healthy skin tips for living the dream in the sun.

1. Natural protection: Keeping your skin healthy and strong is the foundation of good sun care. Your skin has a built-in defense mechanism. That lovely tan you develop in the sun - that's your bio shield. Melanocytes are specialized skin cells that produce melanin -a pigment layer that protects your skin by absorbing UV rays. Healthy melanin production depends in large part on healthy cells, and blood supply.

The bad & the ugly: Studies have shown that reduced levels or antioxidants lead to cellular oxidation (increased ROS), which results in melanocyte damage or death. In other words, your melanin protection will decrease.

The good: Supplement and massage your skin daily with Sheltered to prevent oxidation and increase blood flow to your skin. This liquid moisturizer is full of vital nutrients & antioxidants including anthocyanins, which are UV and neuroprotective pigments.

2. Surface shields: also known as physical or mineral sunscreens. These contain ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which sit on the surface of your skin and absorb, deflect and block UV rays.

The good: these ingredients are kinder (note: zinc is less irritating that titanium) to your skin and the environment. They get our vote!

The bad: because they sit on your skin, they can be wiped away easily so you have to reapply often, especially if you're going in the water.

The ugly: they are ghostly white so the key is to buy tinted options that best match your skin. On the plus side, you won't need a foundation.

3. Skin deep shield: also known as chemical sunscreens (though, this is redundant. All matter on earth is made up of chemicals. That includes you, me, water, zinc, air). A better name for this category would be synthetic sunscreens.

The good: these ingredients absorb quickly and do better in water.

The bad: they absorb into the skin and some may cause irritation and skin allergies. Do your research first.

The ugly: many of these ingredients - oxtynosate, oxybenzone, octocrylene avobenzone, etc., - have been linked to environmental and health concerns including coral reef damage and human reproductive health. According to the FDA, oxybenzone has been found in breast milk, urine and blood samples. Despite this, the FDA considers them safe.

Our aim is to inform and encourage you to do your own research. We're relying on research from the European Union, which has far more stringent standards when it comes to the health and safety of cosmetic ingredients. Regardless of which option you choose, always look for reef safe sunscreens and avoid ones that contain nanoparticles. Likewise, avoid spray and powder formats, which can be inhaled into your lungs.

Sheltered is the product of the month for August and as a thank you for taking the time to read this post, we're offering you a special savings of 15% through the end of summer. Use promo code: SummerSafe

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