Prevention tips against sun-damaged skin with Goddess Garden safe sunscreens that do not get absorbed and by creating a safe barrier.
After this past long and brutally cold Winter, Spring couldn't come fast enough. But I have a feeling we are skipping Spring and heading right into Summer. That means, daily dread of smearing white chalky mess on my skin as I head outside to a hot, hazy, and humid Summer day in NY.
But truth be told, when I used to drive my kids to and from school or after-school activities, I skipped wearing sunscreens. I'd figured, I'm not going to be outside; I'm inside the car!
It turns out, I'm not the only one who didn't think about skin's sun damage from riding in a car.
Can You Get Sun Damaged Skin from Driving?
According to New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Jennifer Gordon, a dermatologist, treated a 69-year-old truck driver for an unusual case of Unilateral Dermatoheliosis. The patient had driven a delivery truck for 28 years that caused sun damage to his left side cheek from being exposed to the sun through the left side window. See the dramatic image of his face HERE.
As stated in the article, Ultraviolet-A (UVA) rays transmit through window glass, penetrating the epidermis and upper layers of the dermis, causing thickening of the epidermis as well as the destruction of elastic fibers. And car windows have filters to block out Ultraviolet-B (UVB) - responsible for photocarcinogenesis - they do not block UVA, which is responsible for wrinkles and changes to the collagen and elastin fibers in the skin. But in some incidences, UVA has shown to cause DNA mutations, direct toxicity, and skin cancer as well.
I emailed Dr. Jennifer Gordon and asked why he didn't get cancer if his skin was this vulnerable? She said, "You are absolutely correct, normally most people receive a combination of UVA and UVB rays (the sun shining down has both). So typically you see both the effects of aging and carcinogenesis. However, with this case, he was a truck driver and received the majority of the sun rays through a window. Windows can block UVB but typically not UVA, so he likely got a much higher exposure to UVA over his many years. The other side of his face is like the control, so that is the UVA and UVB he received throughout his life."
After reading about this case, this article from NY Times, and Dr. Gordon's reply, I learned you CAN get sun damaged skin from driving. And wondered if I had sun damage from all the years of driving too.
My Sun Damaged Skin From Driving
As some of you might know, I "retired" from my Chiropractic practice to become a chauffeur for my kids. Jokes aside, I really DID drive more than 2 hours, averaging one hundred miles, a day, schlepping my kids to and from school and myriad of after-school activities. This was my job for the last nine years. Besides the huge amount of carbon print I logged on, all that driving had other unexpected consequences at my expense.
One morning last fall, I noticed my left cheek appeared to have many more "age" spots. A lot more. I was ghast. My maternal grandmother died of skin cancer so when I told my mom about my discovery, my mom was adamant about taking me - more like dragging me - to the dermatologist to remove the spots.
When I went to a dermatologist, he told me they were "benign" sun damaged spots. He advised a series of laser treatments to remove them and recommended regular visits to check and remove any new ones. He told me sun damaged spots can turn into cancer if not watched carefully and with my family history, he didn't want to take any chances. I didn't either.
Here is the magnified image he took before he began the treatments. I changed the photo to B & W so you can see the dark spots clearer. See the difference between my left and the right cheeks? I have deeper wrinkle around my mouth, under the eye droops more due to loss of elasticity and there are many more dark spots on the left cheek.
I was devastated. Not that I am one of those "Real Housewives from Wherever" type who denies aging as part of life and wants porcelain skin, but the contrast between the left and the right cheek shocked me. How could driving a car cause this type of skin damage? I don't stay out in the sun for a long period of time and when I occasionally have to, I always wear sunscreen. But not when I'm driving...
I asked my dermatologist what I could do to prevent this from getting worse and he simply said, "Use sunscreen whenever you walk out of your house." And he gave me a bag full of sunscreen samples, all of which, had chemicals I did not like. So while I was scared NOT to use them, I was reluctant to use them at the same time. I wondered if there were 'safer' but just as effective sunscreens that I can wear daily without worrying about the ingredients. While I did not want to end up like that truck driver, I also didn't want toxic chemicals affecting my health either. Remember endocrine disruptor Oxybenzone in sunscreens causing endometriosis?
So when Goddess Garden Organics sunscreens came in the mail, I was ecstatic!! But before I tell you about them, here are tips on preventing skin damage from the sun. If riding inside the car caused this much sun damage, imagine how it would be being outside!
Prevention Tips Against Sun Damage on the Skin
- Stay away from the sun. - sounds like a no brainer, right? If you can, stay indoors during the hottest time of the day - 10 AM to 4 PM when the sun's UV rays are the most intense.
- Wear sun protective clothing and hats. - if you can't be indoors, shield from the sun using long sleeves, wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and umbrella. In some countries, it's common to see women using a parasol to shield their faces from the sun when walking in the streets. Asian women are famous for carrying parasols in the summer. I may have to invest in one.
- Use sunscreens with 30 SPF DAILY even when you are driving. And beware of sunscreens higher than 50 SPF. Higher SPF does not provide additional protection but creates a false sense of security. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends broad-spectrum sunscreens, which protect against UVA and UVB rays, with an SPF of at least 30. Apply sunscreen generously every two to three hours.
- Use appropriate sunscreens with safe ingredients - Use broad-spectrum sunscreens that block UVA and UVB. This is very important since sun damage occurs with UVA and cancer with UVB. You want to protect yourself from both. Avoid sunscreens with vitamin A, which may speed up the development of cancer on skin exposed to sunlight. Data show that tumors and lesions develop sooner on skin coated with creams laced with vitamin A, also called retinyl palmitate or retinol. Also, avoid oxybenzone. Oxybenzone is a hormone disruptor, a synthetic estrogen that penetrates the skin and can cause health problems when absorbed.
- Look for mineral-based natural sunscreens with zinc and titanium dioxide listed as active ingredients. Although there are some concerns, EWG favors mineral sunscreens because of their superior UVA protection. See below picture about mineral versus chemical formulas.
- Don't use sunscreens that have other combined functions - Sunscreens should be applied liberally and often. But it sunscreens contain chemicals for other functions, like insect repellents, you'd be applying insect repellents often as well. Applying insect repellents on your skin is toxic - applying it often is even more toxic and unnecessary.
- Shield the glass windows in cars. I have a tinted glass on my car but since my trip to the Dermatologist, I now use a thin opaque paper to shield the top portion of the window on my side and wear long sleeve shirt when driving so my arm does not get damaged. I wonder if I need to get driving gloves next.
- Stay away from tanning beds. Tanning beds expose skin to UV rays 15 times more than the sun. Tanning beds are not recommended for children since their skin is especially sensitive to UV rays.
Goddess Garden's Safe Sunscreen Review
With Summer approaching fast, I was desperate to find safe sunscreens and lotions that I can use daily. I really needed to take care of my skin before it got worse. So when I had the opportunity to review Goddess Garden Organics' mineral sunscreens, I honestly thought it was act of God. Seriously.
There are lots of natural and organic sunscreens out there. But Goddess Garden has had rave reviews from many satisfied customers. So when I received a box full of sunscreens to last me this entire season for my family, being ecstatic doesn't even come close to describing how I felt.
Here are some facts about Goddess Garden safe sunscreens:
- The ingredients are mostly certified organic, the highest organic content on the market today.
- Their active ingredients zinc and titanium oxide are the safest and very effective broad-spectrum ingredients, according to EWG's Skin Deep.
- The minerals, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, act as a physical barrier, reflecting the sun’s rays, and are not absorbed into the skin so they are safer. Despite some concerns over nanoparticles in other brands, you can be rest assured that Goddess Garden Sport Sprays are NOT NANO since the particles are between 100-130 nanometers (nm), larger than 100 nm which are considered nanoparticles. If you are spraying near kids (or even on your own skin), just make sure to turn the face away so not to inhale the mist. Even though it's not nano, the spray just doesn't taste good.
- The Goddess Garden sunscreens are water-resistant, biodegradable (reef safe) and vegan.
- All their packaging is recyclable.
- Read this impressive non-toxic and safe ingredients list that includes, Sunflower Seed Oil, lavender, shea butter and more.
- They support charitable organizations including The Nature Conservancy and Emergency Family Assistance Association.
- Many ingredients (sunflower and soybean oil) are sourced locally in the U.S. Others like the shea butter are sourced from fair trade farms.
My thoughts on Goddess Garden Sunscreens:
I received a variety of sunscreens from Goddess Garden. The company was founded by a mom so it has an awesome selection of sunscreens for babies and kids but its adult line is just as impressive in its effectiveness and of course, safety. I wanted to try mostly adult products so I received its latest continuous spray Sunny Body for Sport, Lavender Lotion and Sunny Face. But the company also sent a couple of kids products too.
Sunny Face is what I've been using daily since I received it and again, it's lighter than commercial sunscreens that goes on white, caked-on, clown-makeup-like cream. It 'feels' like it's going to leave a thick white film but it does not. The texture is a bit sticky at first but it disappears. You can put on makeup afterward and it does not streak. I was pleased with the consistency and how it didn't make me feel like I was wearing "sunscreen". I have a small travel sized Sunny Kids tube in my purse so I can reapply every two hours if I'm out and about.
Face the Day Moisturizer and Firming Primer 30 SPF - I love this lotion since I don't have to even think about adding sunscreen to my morning routine.
Sunny Body for Sport is a convenient continuous spray that makes it easy to use with one hand to apply on large areas like legs and arms. It's scent free so there is no cheap tropical beachy smell. Again, the spray goes on light, sheer and non-greasy. It goes on smooth and not blotchy. You still have to rub it in once it's sprayed to make sure you are covered evenly.
While I am no longer driving 2 hours a day but when I make my long trips to see my kids in college, I will be absolutely protected while driving long hours in the car.
My sunscreen of choice is Goddess Garden and they will be in my arsenal against sun damage from now on.
Don't be a fool like me. Protect your skin against sun damage at all times. Even when you are in a car.