12 Jul 2018
How to Handle Sun Care When Your Hormones Are Out of Balance
A few years ago, I got a big wake-up call.
It all started very innocently as a routine “get-to-know you” visit with a new dermatologist. I’d just moved to Asheville and since I’m at very high risk for skin cancer, I wanted get established with someone.
I grew up in the era of iodine and baby oil, but God bypassed me when it came to tanning genes. So, I’ve had more than my share of severe sunburns. I also had an uncle who died of melanoma, and a dad who’s had his face carved on more than a few times.
So, at my first visit, my new dermatologist got up-close-and-personal with her magnifying glass. She pointed to a spot under my left eye that looked like 5 other spots on my face and asked, “How long has that been there?”
“Not too long,” I said. Next thing I knew, I was having a biopsy that turned out to be basal cell skin cancer. Not the news I was looking for. And it all turned out fine, although I ‘ve had another one removed since then.
I’m careful in the sun now, but it can be tricky when you’re struggling with the hormone imbalances perimenopause creates.
Here are few tips that can help you avoid the estrogen-like effects of sunscreens:
1) Avoid chemicals that act like estrogen in your body, especially oxybenzone.
Oxybenzone acts like estrogen in the body and binds to receptors, thus worsening issues with estrogen dominance. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), America’s leading environmental health research and advocacy organization, nearly half of all beach and sport sunscreens contain the chemical oxybenzone. It acts like estrogen in your body. Other estrogenic chemicals that are used extensively in sunscreens are octyl-methoxycinnamate, which is found in over 800 sunscreens and homosalate, which is found in over 400 sunscreens.
My preference is a zinc or titanium dioxide based product that is a physical (vs. chemical) sunscreen. No hormone disruptors there! One of my new favorites is this. As a bonus, it’s not harmful to coral reefs! Other good brands include Blue Lizard, Badger, and Aubrey Organics.
2) Try astaxanthin.
Astaxanthin (pronounced asta-zan-thin) is carotenoid and one of the most potent antioxidants available. It has been widely studied and is beneficial in may different ways. One of the main reasons I started taking Astaxanthin is because my genetic testing shows I am a poor converter of Vitamin A. Astaxanthin gets around the need for conversion to retinoids, but as a bonus, it also protects against sunburn. It works as an internal sunscreen of sorts since it reduces inflammation and helps reduce UVA damage to skin cells. Use a product that is naturally sourced from the algae Haematococcus pluvialis. I would not use this solely as a means for sun protection, rather as an add-on.
Tweet: According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), America’s leading environmental health research and advocacy organization, nearly half of all beach and sport sunscreens contain the chemical oxybenzone.
The safest sun protection solution is to cover up (which as a bonus, disrupts no hormones), but when that isn’t practical, make sure to consider what you’re putting on your skin. Your skin is like a big mouth. Anything you put on it may absorbed into your body. Do your research to keep those hormones well balanced so you feel your best this summer.
Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim parts of themselves they thought were gone forever.
Find out more about working with her at https://www.drannagarrett.com/work-with-me/.