Dr Robyn Land Talks Sunscreen

July 11, 2016

If there is any complexion out there that learns to respect the power of the sun, it’s redheads. As a proud member of that 2% of the population, sun care is a topic near and dear to my heart.

Let's start with some sun care basics:

  • The sun releases ultraviolet rays (UV rays), which travel 149.6 million kilometers to reach the surface of your skin.
  • UVA rays penetrate deep into your skin, causing cellular damage and skin aging
  • UVB rays stop close to the surface of your skin and are responsible for sunburns.
  • To protect yourself be sure to choose a sunscreen that has a broad-spectrum or UVA and UVB protection.

What SPF is right for me?

SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, measures how much longer you can be in the sun with sunscreen compared to no sunscreen. For instance, with my pale skin, I can burn in a quick 10 minutes. An SPF 15 sunscreen would give me 15 x 10 minutes or 150 minutes in the sun before burning. That doesn’t mean that an SPF of 400 would give me 5 days of sun protection because we need to reapply sunscreen roughly every two hours.

That means, for most of us, an SPF of 30 applied every two hours is a great choice to protect against a full day in the sun. 


Choosing the right sunscreen for you

So now that you know what SPF to look for, how do you pick the right type of sunscreen to do the job? There are two main types of sunscreen out there:

  1. Mineral sunscreens are usually made with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Mineral sunscreens are a physical barrier that sits on top of the skin. The minerals in the sunscreen absorb or reflect the sun’s rays from the skin.
  2. Chemical sunscreens use a mixture of chemicals that are absorbed into the skin and facilitate chemical reactions to convert the UV rays into heat and then allow the heat to release from your skin.

If you look at the list of ingredients in a chemical sunscreen, you’ll see a lot of long chemical compounds. Many of these chemicals accumulate in the tissues of the body and act as hormone and cellular disrupters. One such chemical, Oxybenzone, was found in 97% of people’s systems in a test conducted by the CDC. It has also been found to be detrimental to the environment, particularly to fragile coral reefs.

natural sunscreen

Rocky Mountain Soaps Sunscreen – A Healthier Choice

In comes Rocky Mountain Soaps with a new sunscreen. This mineral sunscreen has been several years in the making as they have been seeking the perfect blend of all-natural, toxin-free ingredients that is easy to apply and wear.  I love how it goes on white so I can see if I missed a spot and quickly rubs in without making me any paler than I already am! With a base of 20.1% zinc oxide and a lovely vanilla-coconut scent, I am applying this sunscreen much more readily and frequently because I know it’s not harming me. The zinc, which is great for encourage tissue healing, is partnered up with shea butter to help moisturize and soothe skin…an added bonus of the lotion!

Of course, the best sun care is staying out of the sun, covering up, and avoiding the most direct rays of the day. However, after months of rain, snow, and dark in Canada, most of us are readily basking in the sunshine.

So make sure you slather on some all-natural sunscreen to keep your skin healthy and happy (and chemical free) this summer!

About Robyn

Dr. Robyn Land is a Naturopathic Physician, yoga teacher, and proud ginger, based in Vancouver, BC. Her company, Local Health & Corporate Wellness, brings in-office holistic healthcare and wellness lectures to workplaces, as well as clinic appointments at her Commercial Drive clinic location. You can find out more about Dr. Land at www.localhealthco.com


Dingle P. How Toxic Is Your Sunscreen?: Toxic Sunscreen Ingredients Exposed.Journal Of The Australasian College Of Nutritional And Environmental Medicine[serial online]. 2009;28(2):10.

Downs C, Kramarsky-Winter E, Loya Y, et al. Toxicopathological Effects of the Sunscreen UV Filter, Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3), on Coral Planulae and Cultured Primary Cells and Its Environmental Contamination in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Archives Of Environmental Contamination And Toxicology [serial online]. 2016;(2):265.

Is Your Sunscreen TOXIC? (cover story). Share Guide [serial online]. July 2008;(98):24-34.

CDC finds many Americans have sunscreen chemical in body. Pesticide & Toxic Chemical News . 2008:Available from: Academic OneFile, Ipswich, MA.


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