Not too long ago, I went boating with some friends. As the day went on we forgot one of the cardinal rules of any water-filled sport: reapply sunscreen after you get out of the water. Unfortunately, one member of our group looked like a tomato before the day was through and it only got worse as the weekend drew to a close. The sun was kind to me that day and I escaped with only a slight rose-hue to my skin that quickly turned into a tan.

If you are anticipating a day of fun in the sun and want to ensure your escape from similar fate as my above mentioned friend, you are reading the right article. For a “green” solution to your sunscreen needs that is both healthy for your skin and the environment, you may be in luck.

I was recently introduced to a few articles that explore the possibility of a serum that has been found to work for 72 hours with just one slathering on your skin. Research has been performed at John Hopkins University and concluded that this all-natural suntan lotion is absorbed within your skin cells and works to help produce enzymes that protect your skin against UV damage.

So what is this miracle potion? You may be surprised to find out this magical mixture is broccoli juice extract! Interestingly enough, the protective compound that absorbs into your skin, sulforaphane, is the same cancer-fighting ingredient that is absorbed when you eat broccoli.

Several studies are surfacing that analyze many of the environmental and health effects of several sunscreens that are currently available on the market. For instance, many of the ingredients in sunscreens adverse affects on hard corals and symbiotic algae. Sunscreens have many of the same effects on aquatic environments as bacterial disease, temperature anomalies, pollution, and high irradiance. Even low concentrations, sunscreens cause rapid and complete bleaching of hard coral because they promote viral infections in coral.

Another drawback to traditional sunscreen is that many of the chemical ingredients; such as avobenzone, benzophenone, ethylhexyl p-methoxycinnimate, in popular sunscreens may not be 100% safe. Many of these chemicals are free radical generators. Benzophenone is one of the most powerful free-radical generators known, and is used in industrial processes to conduct chemical reactions. When UV rays reach, benophenone it can react with other free radicals and produce damage to fats, proteins and DNA of cells. One big problem is that these chemicals can often be absorbed into your bloodstream when used often and applied heavily. Many studies and reports have surfaced that link these chemicals used in sunscreens to cancer.

I don’t know about you, but broccoli extract as a sun-combatant is sounding pretty good right now. The only drawback is that scientists haven’t found a way to rid the extract of its green-hue. Personally, though, I would rather be a little green for a day instead of red and uncomfortable for days after sun exposure.

Even with the release of this study, remember there are still safe and eco-friendly alternatives.  Though broccoli may have helped protect better and longer than its conventional counterparts, if you are shy about how soaking your skin with vegetable juice feel free to check out this guide to Eco-Friendly Sunscreen. Remember to stay safe out there and have fun!

-Hannah Bybee

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