Your Sunscreen Is Probably Making You Sick. Switch To These.

The best non-toxic sunscreens, and why you should probably throw yours in the trash.


An Expert Shares Her Tips

Urbanette held a brief interview with Dr Marina Peredo, founder of the Marina Peredo, MD, PC Dermatology and Spatique Medical Spa in Smithtown, New York. Marina, who has an incredibly impressive resume, told us about skin cancer, common skincare problems, and how to protect ourselves.

Your Sunscreen Is Probably Making You Sick. Switch To These.

Urbanette Magazine (Hilary): What are the most common skin problems that often lead to skin cancer? What are the easiest and most basic ways to prevent these problems?

Your Sunscreen Is Probably Making You Sick. Switch To These.

Dr. Marina Peredo: Actinic Keratosis is a rough dry scaly patch or growth that forms on the skin. These usually form when the skin is badly damaged from ultraviolet rays (UV rays). AK’s may turn into a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma, or they can run the risk of getting other types of skin cancer. This condition can be prevented by wearing a zinc oxide sunscreen daily and being seen by a board-certified dermatologist on a regular basis.

Urbanette: What increases our risk for this?

Marina: Patients who have multiple moles, (dysplastic nevus syndrome), patients with type-one skin type (never tans, always burns), patients who use tanning salons and patients who had several blistering sunburns before age 18 are all at much higher risk for skin cancer.

“Ways to prevent aging and skin cancer include use zinc oxide sunblock, avoid tanning beds and have your skin checked by a dermatologist.”

Urbanette: Yikes! That sounds like me! The sun turns my skin from white to red (usually with blisters) then back to white. How do you know you already have early stages of skin cancer; how do you detect it?

Marina: Recognition of changes in the skin is the best way to detect early melanoma. Follow the ABCDE rule (Asymmetry of a mole, Border irregularity of a mole, Color is not uniform, Diameter or change in size, Evolving of a mole that looks different from the rest). If patient sees any of the above, have it checked right away.

Urbanette: How often do I have to apply sunblock? What SPF should I use?

Marina: Make sure to use the right amount of sunblock — a shot glass full for each application. Apply sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes before going outdoors every day. When outdoors, reapply every 30 minutes. I recommend SPF 15 or 30. Always reapply after swimming or sweating. The sun emits harmful UV rays year round, plus you have to look out for secondary sun exposure, so sunscreen needs to be applied even when it snows or when it’s cloudy. Wearing protective clothing (like Coolibar) helps and always avoid the sun between the hours of 11am to 3pm.

Urbanette: What is secondary sun exposure, and can it really hurt me?

Marina: Secondary sun exposure is the UV rays your skin is exposed to when sitting near a window on the sunny day, in a car, from a reflection on water, and even on a cloudy day. And yes, while you may not get burned, it’s still rays hitting your skin, so you still need to wear sunscreen even when you’re not directly exposed.

Urbanette: How do you teach your patients about sun protection and what advice do you give them?

Marina: Pictures tell a thousand words and are a useful tool when trying to show my patients what can happen if they do not take precautions when out in the sun. I always encourage all of my patients, teens included, to wear a zinc oxide sunscreen every day, wear sun protective clothing, avoid tanning beds, and get a spray tan or use self-tanner if you really want color.

Really, the best and simplest advice I could give you is simply to avoid the sun between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

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A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she lives in Monte Carlo, but spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always traveling, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 161 Comments

  1. Frederica Pellman

    Maybe we need to go back to the days when having unblemished white skin was considered a real beauty asset for Caucasian women. Having a tan meant you were poor and had to work in the fields. Now we see a tan as sexy and healthy, which it clearly is not. Skin cancer isn’t sexy or healthy, and as you get older you won’t be going to your dermatologist for fillers and Botox, you will be going so he/she can burn off the cancerous or pre-cancerous lesions that mar your lovely face. In 60’s London it was fashionable to have the “pale and interesting” look. let’s bring it back!!!

  2. Arlene Davis

    This is why I’m never fond of using chemical made products. Even if it’s quite expensive, I’d still rather use organic products. It’s better to be safe than sorry

  3. Andrea Jones

    Does it necessarily have to re-apply the sunscreen every 30 minutes? Even if you’re inside of the office or at the house, you have to re-apply? Such a hassle

  4. Carmen Griffin

    Whenever I go out, I easily got red skin and face! I didn’t mind that at first. But after reading this, I got conscious about it and thought twice about what I’m doing with my skin.

  5. Henriett Bond

    As a single Dad, I read articles like this so that I know what my daughter needs and how I can take care of her better.

  6. Zoe Martin

    Woah. Sunscreens are that harmful?! I guess I better switch to organic products now that you made me aware that chemical-based products are so bad for my health and the coral reefs! 🙁

  7. It’s a hassle to always re-applying sunscreen. Just always bring an umbrella with you

  8. Artur Piterson

    I don’t use sunscreen. I’d rather use my cap. I don’t want to have any silly stuff on me

    • Cristina Joseff

      If it’s good for your health, there’s no harm in trying right?

  9. Della Martin

    I guess I should choose organic sunscreens over chemical-made products. And when if I need to buy chemical-made products, I should be careful with the ingredients and made a research about it first.

  10. Rosalia Russell

    Please, do more post like this one, about skin care products. I always follow your tips, and I’ve proven them all 😀

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