By Jenny Everett, SELF magazine
Gisele Bundchen is at it again.
First, the supermodel caused controversy by saying there should be a worldwide law mandating that every woman must breastfeed.
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Now, she's angering dermatologists by referring to sunscreen as "poison."
Last week, while promoting her new "natural" skincare line at a press conference in Brazil, she reportedly said of SPF products, "I cannot put this poison on my skin. I do not use anything synthetic." News sources also quoted her as saying that she protects her skin by staying out of the sun when it's strongest.
Bundchen's rep is claiming the native Brazilian was misquoted because of the language barrier, and that she meant to say she prefers sunscreens that are free of harsh chemicals.
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Since Mrs. Tom Brady is no dermatologist, we checked in with an actual MD to find out if we should be concerned about our sunscreen's ingredients.
Whether or not Gisele's comments were lost in translation or not, the message that came across is "utterly wrong," says James Spencer, a dermatologist in St. Petersburg, Fla.
According to Spencer, Bundchen's comments were likely based on a controversial report released last year by the Environmental Working Group. In it, the EWG claimed that 41 percent of sunscreens contain a form of vitamin A (retinyl palmitate) that may speed the development of some skin tumors and lesions when exposed to sunlight.
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"The Environmental Working Group found one study from 10 years ago and used that to create this panic and that's what she's picking up on," says Spencer. "But there are 100 other studies that say the opposite -- that vitamin A and its derivatives can actually prevent cancer. That's why it's recommended for high-risk patients."
If you are still aren't convinced that retinyl palmitate is safe, you can take comfort in the fact that most sunscreens don't contain it at all, according to Spencer. Generally, those without the vitamin A derivative are made with zinc oxide or titanium oxide, long-lasting, proven ingredients for protecting your skin from UV rays.
And be skeptical about high-priced sunscreens that claim to be "natural."
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"I bet you dinner that they are made in a lab by a chemical company. They aren't getting zinc from a mine somewhere," says Spencer.
However, there is one au natural source of skin protection: Lycopene, which is found in foods such as watermelon, guava and tomatoes. Click here for more information on getting your daily dose of UV-blocking foods.
Of course, that doesn't get you off the hook: Sunscreen is a must, even in the winter.
How do you feel about Gisele's alleged remarks?
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Photo Credit: WWD