There are plenty of widely held beliefs about proper skin care. Turns out, they are dangerous myths that can prevent you and your children from reaching an optimal state of skin and health.
Some of the most flagrant myths about caring for your skin are the following:
1. MYTH: You Should Shun Sunlight
Contrary to the anti-sun propaganda that has spread over the last decades, getting safe sun exposure every day can benefit your overall health. Your body needs sunlight to produce vitamin D, which has been hailed for its protective effects against melanoma and other cancer. Vitamin D also supports bone and teeth health, your immune system, cardiovascular health, muscle strength, and more.
Sensible sun exposure is key to having good health. But you should also protect your child from getting sunburned. Protect the skin around his eyes and face, as it is usually much thinner than other areas on your body.
2. MYTH: You Should Avoid Tanning
Sensible tanning the “old-fashioned” way (meaning in the sun) is perfectly acceptable. However, limit your child’s exposure in the first few days to let her body’s melanocyte cells increase their ability to produce protective pigmentation for tanning and protection against sun overexposure.
Use skin color as a guide. As soon as your child’s skin turns the slightest pink, either cover your child up or cover your child in a safe sunscreen. It is at this point that your child no longer produces vitamin D from the sun. If your child is fairly light-skinned and tends to burn, limit her initial sun exposure to a few minutes, especially in midsummer. If dark-skinned and it is early or late in the season, about 30 minutes of exposure can be considered safe.
3. MYTH: Sunless Tanning Lotions or Sprays Are Safe
There is a lengthy list of chemical agents found in sunless tanners. In spray tanners, there may be as many as 45 of these pernicious ingredients! Among these is dihydroxyacetone, a color additive that darkens skin through reacting with amino acids in the surface layer of your skin.
Often known as DHA (not to be confused with the healthy omega-3 fat), dihydroxyacetone is not just a simple carbohydrate sugar, as spray tanner manufacturers claim. There’s evidence that DHA may be a mutagen that could induce breaks in DNA strands, which can lead to accelerated aging and even skin cancer.
4. MYTH: The Higher the Sunscreen SPF, the Better
Did you know that it’s generally unnecessary to buy sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of higher than 50? SPF works by absorbing, reflecting, or scattering the sun’s rays on your skin, but its protection is not linear and doesn’t provide greater protection at higher levels.
5. All Skin Care Products on the Market Have Been Tested and are Safe
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), fewer than 20 percent of the 10,500 ingredients used in personal care products have been reviewed for safety in the last three decades. Add this to the fact that many skin care products on the market contain chemicals (such as parabens, phthalates, and triclosan) that have been associated with cancer, hormone disruption, and other health issues.
This is a pressing concern, since whatever you put on your child’s skin may be absorbed into her body and enter her bloodstream. The gut helps protect against some of the toxins from food that your child ingests, but her skin doesn’t have the same filtering system!
Ideally, skin care regimens should be natural, and should address skin health both from the inside out and from the outside in. The first step would be addressing diet: consume vegetables and fruits that are high in carotenoids, which give red, orange, and yellow fruits their color.
The carotenoid astaxanthin, for instance, give salmon their reddish hue, and may also give you a natural pinkish glow when taken in abundance. The more red and yellow tones found in skin, the more attractive you or your child is found to be. In fact according to a study, when forced to choose between skin color created by tanning or skin color caused by carotenoids, people preferred the latter!
Cleansing your child’s body of dangerous substances is another radical step toward good skin. The liver and kidneys, for example, filter out impurities continuously, so your child is prone to breakouts and other skin problems when these organs are overtaxed.
Use natural skin care solutions, such as pure coconut oil and pure emu oil moisturize your child’s skin. Rubbing a drop of oregano oil on a breakout can also speed up the healing of acne and prevent scarring.
Katrina Pascual works for Mercola.com. She writes about simple nutrition and healthy living, such as using regularly astaxanthin and other antioxidants.