Wearing sunscreen to prevent skin cancer is undoubtedly basic knowledge to anyone who lives where the sun touches. However, there is some evidence to support the opposite: that the risk of skin cancer may actually increase with sunscreen use. How can this be?

There was a study conducted with 1,600 Australian participants in which one group applied sunscreen daily, while another used it only occasionally. The results after 4.5 years indicated that there was no difference in the numbers of people who developed basal cell carcinoma (BCC) or cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (sSCC), the most common types of skin cancer.

Sunlight has multiple benefits to your health that continue to be uncovered. Thus you don’t always have to shield yourself from the sun to avoid cancer. However, you may want to avoid your sunscreen since it could be causing the cancer you’re trying to avoid in the first place.

What Sunscreen Can Be Damaging?

Around 16 percent of US manufactured sunscreens contain vitamin A, which of course sounds beneficial, but actually isn’t. This type of vitamin A present is called retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A that has been found to promote skin tumors and lesions when applied to the skin and exposed to sunlight. How is this known? A study on hairless mice revealed an accelerated formation in skin tumors when vitamin-A-laced cream was applied and they were exposed to ultraviolet light daily for one year.

Despite these known risks, the FDA has failed to take action in preventing manufacturers from using retinyl palmitate and has issued no mandatory warning labels. Additionally, oxybenzone, another popular sunscreen ingredient has been detected in almost every American, is believed to produce hormone disruptions and cell damage that can promote cancer. For more on how these alterations can affect your health, visit Dr. Mercola’s page, here.

How To Enjoy The Sun Safely

Though there’s a lot to be said and studied on how much sunlight one should receive, what products can sell, and what the possible effects are. There are a few general rules that you can follow to enjoy the sun safely.

  1. Wear a wide-brimmed hat.

The skin around your face and eyes are thinner and therefore more at risk for cosmetic damage and premature wrinkling. If you’ll be outside for a long period of time, use a natural mineral-based broad-spectrum sunscreen—these products normally contain zinc.

  1. Limit initial sun exposure.

Work your way up to sun exposure. People who have fairly light-skin should limit their time to a few minutes in the sun and work their way up as they tan.

  1. Build an internal sunscreen.

With antioxidants like astaxanthin, you can make your own topical protection for your skin. Just add organic coconut oil to make your own lotion. Moreover, you can eat healthy with fresh, unprocessed foods containing omega-6 and omega-3 oils will aid your skin from getting sunburn.

  1. Moisturize naturally.

Before sunbathing, apply coconut oil (and astaxanthin) to exposed skin for prevention in dryness and even metabolic benefits.

So before you buy sunscreen, be sure to check the label for harmful ingredients, and don’t rule out sun protection all together. There are great natural alternatives that can help you stay protected.