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By: Dr. Eric Lewis, ND
Did you know that a recent consumer safety study showed that 4 out of 5 sunscreens on the market contains harmful chemicals? And that up to 70% of sunscreens contained questionable or misleading claims on the bottle? What if the very sunscreen you are putting on your body to protect yourself from cancer contains carcinogenic compounds?

Why Naturopathic Doctors Believe Healthy Skin Care Affects Holistic Medicine

The skin is the largest organ of the human body. The skin not only protects the muscles, ligaments, organs and bones, but also guards the rest of the body from microorganisms, eliminates toxins, insulates the body, regulates temperature, and synthesizes Vitamin D. In order to maintain good health, proper skin care is essential since the health of the skin reflects the health of the body.

Sunshine can be very healthy for our skin, as well as our mood.  But what about the dangers that comes along with too much sunshine?  Sunburn, skin cancer, wrinkles, premature aging…we’ve all been taught to protect our skin from the harsh rays of the sun or else suffer the consequences.  So for the past years, many of us have heeded these warning and have been lathering up, head to toe, with minimum SPF 970 sunscreen to stay safe from the dangers lurking from above.

Avoid Common Allergies and Symptoms of Toxicity with Natural and Organic Skin Care

In today’s modern world many people suffer from sensitivities to the harsh chemicals and preservatives found in lotions, make up, cleansers and other skin care products. Common allergies and symptoms of skin toxicity include acne, excessive dryness, rosascea, rashes, itchiness and more.  These kinds of skin problems can be treated with herbal medicine, homeopathy and a body detox program. Naturopathic medical physicians and alternative health practitioners al
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so recommend the use of chemical-free, organic skin care products.

A Naturopathic Doctor’s Opinion on the Importance of Wearing Healthy Sunscreen

The Environmental Working Group (, the same excellent organization responsible for researching and publishing resources such as The Shopper’s Guide to Organic Produce, has now created The Shopper’s Guide to Sunscreen. EWG has carefully studied more then 1100 sunscreens currently on the market and evaluated the products based on three major criteria:

1. How much protection the sunscreen offers against UVA and UVB rays

2. How quickly the sunscreen breaks down

3. How many toxic ingredients or harsh chemicals it contains.

According to EWG’s study, featured on, four out of five sunscreens on the market fail to properly protect the skin or contain harmful chemicals. Popular brands such as Banana Boat and Coppertone received poor ratings from EWG, as did brands like Almay and Neutrogena, which are advertised specifically for people with sensitive skin.

Most sunscreens fail to achieve high ratings from EWG for the following reasons:

1. The sunscreen does not provide UVA and UVB protection.  (The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is designed to measure UVB protection only).

2. The sunscreen breaks down too quickly and skin is not protected.

3. The sunscreen contains harsh chemicals that are absorbed into the blood and can lead to other health problems.

Naturopathic doctors and alternative health practitioners are concerned about problems with popular sunscreens because they do not do what they are supposed to: protect the skin from damage or aging.

UVA and UVB Rays

UVB rays, the ones that are considered for an SPF rating, are dangerous because they are absorbed by the superficial layer of skin and can cause sunburn and potentially skin cancer. UVA rays, the ones not considered for SPF, affect the deeper layers of skin but can also cause skin aging and skin cancer.  According to the EWG, 7% of sunscreens do not prevent UVA.

Rapid Breakdown and Limited Coverage

Additionally, 44% of analyzed sunscreens experience partial or total breakdown within minutes or hours, which means although the sunscreen offers some protection, the protection is not guaranteed over time.

Naturopathic Medicine Concerns About Sunscreen Chemicals

Naturopathic doctors and other professionals in the holistic health care field have many safety concerns in particular about the chemicals used in sunscreen. Some common ingredients have been linked to hormone disruption and the onset of allergic reactions. In addition there are no safety studies that evaluate the interaction of these chemicals and their effects when combined with many other chemicals we are exposed to in our environment like pesticides, herbicides and plastics.

Questionable Product Claims about Sunscreens

Due to the possible side effects of chemicals it is important to be aware of questionable product claims regarding sunscreen.  FDA regulations currently are not complete, therefore there is no oversight about common claims.  Statements like “All Day Protection,” “Broad Spectrum Protection,” “Waterproof,” “All Natural,” and “Chemical Free” must be carefully investigated.  According to EWG, 70% of the sunscreens studied contained a questionable or misleading claim on the bottle!

Lewis Family Natural Health is a husband and wife team of naturopathic physicians in Asheville, North Carolina. Drs. Kristina and Eric Lewis specialize in holistic women's health, homeopathy, herbal medicine, nutritional counseling, all natural weight loss and healthy lifestyle coaching. For more information visit

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