Sunscreen is very important to help protect our skin from damage and skin cancer but some sunscreens may have unsafe side effects. Choosing safe sunscreen is important but can be difficult, this list will help.
Sunscreen is a very useful product that helps to prevent skin damage and skin cancer. The problem is not all sunscreens are equal and some have ingredients that may be harmful.
Sunscreen is applied in a thick coat over large areas of the body and reapplied often. Because of this, you don’t want harmful ingredients that could cause irritation or even be harmful, especially when inhaled or ingested. Since sunscreen is often applied to lips and spray sunscreens are becoming more popular, this risk is becoming higher. Plus many sunscreens have ingredients that are designed to help the ingredients penetrate your skin. And this has lead to sunscreen chemicals showing up in blood, urine, and breast milk.
There are safe sunscreen options that still work but use mineral-based ingredients to protect you from the sun. These options are usually better.
Ingredients to Avoid in Sunscreen
Oxybenzone: This chemical has high rates of skin allergies. It also is suspected of disrupting your hormones. Meaning it may mimic, block, and/or alter hormone levels. This can cause problems with your endocrine system. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found 97% of Americans have this chemical in their bodies.
Octinoxate: One of the most common sunscreen ingredients, it’s readily absorbed by our skin and also can cause other ingredients to be absorbed more easily. It is also a hormone disruptor. The chemical has an effect on estrogen and can be harmful to humans and wildlife. It also produces free radicals and can damage skin and cells, causing premature aging.
Octocrylene: This is another hormone disrupter and can also be toxic to the environment.
Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A Palmitate): You may see this ingredient and think it’s a vitamin so it must be good for you. The problem is certain forms of vitamin A found in sunscreen, namely retinyl palmitate, can produce free radicals that can damage DNA and lead to cancer.
Paraben: You will find this ingredient in a lot of personal care products. It can cause allergic reactions, hormone disruption, development, and reproductive toxicity. Some parabens are even linked to breast cancer.
Phthalates: Found often in fragrance, phthalates are an endocrine disrupter. Some studies have also linked phthalates to liver cancer. There have also been links to asthma.
Safe Sunscreen Options
EWG has a great sunscreen guide that will give you a complete list of the best safe sunscreens. We’ve collected a list of some of our favorites. Many of these are available at natural food stores.
Best Adult & Sport Sunscreen
Best Kids Sunscreen
Looking for summer skin care ideas? Check out Summer Skin Care from the Kitchen.
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