How Toxic is your Sunscreen?

23 Jul

barrier sunscreen close up

Being a pale skinned girl living in the land of sunshine, sunscreen & I have been in a long-term relationship.

Sometimes it has been a little bit of a love/hate relationship – sunscreen can be sticky, smell bad & irritate my skin. But getting sunburned sucks!! Red & peeling is not necessarily my best look!

According to the Environmental Working Groups 2013 survey of over 800 sunscreen brands, 75% of the sunscreens tested contained potentially harmful ingredients linked to hormone disruption & even cell damage that may lead to skin cancer. Yikes, that does not sound good.

Your skin is your largest organ. Anything  you put on your body is absorbed into your blood stream within 20 minutes. Now that is a very scary thought when the majority of our sunscreen brands contain potentially harmful chemicals.

During the past 50 years, we have increased the number of synthetic sunscreen chemicals that we use. We have done this with virtually no consideration of how vulnerable we are to these chemicals – or how little we know about their subtle and cumulative toxic effects. We assume that because they are so easily purchased at the store, they must be safe to use. Wrong! Many of these chemicals are known to be toxic; very few are carefully studied before they are put on the shelf . There is no doubt that the products in everyday sunscreens are toxic. The only real question is: what effects are they having on us and our families?

The unknown long-term consequences of the chemicals in sunscreen are just starting to be revealed and the results are shockingly horrific, going far beyond the common skin rash.

Sunscreen is supposed to protect us from harmful UV radiation from the sun, but as more people use sunscreen, the incidence of skin cancer continues to rise. This fact alone has to make you think – do sunscreens really provide skin cancer protection? Or could the chemicals in them actually be contributing to causing skin cancer?

So what do you do??

First off Read your labels & avoid all products that don’t list their full ingredient’s or any products that contain the below ingredients

Oxybenzone – 
This is a hormone disruptor which penetrates the skin and enters the bloodstream. It is the most popular ingredient in chemical based sunscreens and only blocks UVB ray (sun’s good rays that provide vitamin D production), not UVA which are the most free radical damaging rays.  Avoid any sunscreen that has this chemical at all costs, especially for children.
Octyl- mrthoxycinnamate –
Reported to cause photosensitization & photoallergic effects. It is a hormone disruptor that increases endocrine activity and has been linked to cancer in several studies by the Danish EPA
Methylbenzylidende camphor (4 MBC)
Linked to sperm anomalies, testicular & breast cancer. It is thought that it is especially harmful for children as it is a hormone disruptor & can cause troubles in pre-pubescent children.
Benzophenones
A potent free radical generator that can cause dermatitis, rosacea, burning & itching.
PABA
Was the most widely used active ingredients until the mid-1980’s when it almost completely disappeared because of the high incidence of adverse skin effects. It is banned in Canada & only allowed at 5% concentrations in Europe but we still continue to use it here in Australia.
Padimate O
Forms free radicals that cause DNA disruptions.
Dibenxoylmethanes
Is used as a UVA absorber but can cause photo allergy  & contact allergy.           Parsol 1789 –                                                      
DNA damaging.
Psolaren
A known carcinogenic.
Vitamin A (Retinyl Palmitate) –
A 2009 study by U.S. government scientists released by the National Toxicology Program found when this is applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight, it may speed the development of skin cancers & lesions.
Fragrance – 
Sure it may make the product smell nice, but this is a petroleum based product that is linked to toxicity & allergy.
Sprays or Powders –
Generally speaking, sprays and powders have additional chemicals added to them for performance purposes. These additional chemicals are usually not something you want to be spraying on your body and can be toxic to the lungs.
Titanium Dioxide
This mineral is often touted as a safe sun barrier but research has shown that the particles are not photo safe & that on exposure to the sun the titanium dioxide creates singlet oxygen, superoxide anions & hydroxyl radicals all of which are potent free radicals which can lead to mutant skin cells, skin cancers & premature ageing of your skin – who the heck wants that???

Barrier Sunscreen

So what should you look for?

  • Zinc Oxide is your safest option for a barrier sunscreen as unlike titanium dioxide it is photo stable.
  • Buy Organic where possible
  • Buy only from companies that list ALL ingredients on their packaging not just the “active” sun barrier ingredients.
  • Look for fragrance free or products scented by essential oils
  • Look for products that use oils that are naturally high in SPF, Carrot seed, Raspberry seed, wheat germ, coconut oil etc.

Going sunscreen free is not always an option, neither is covering up. Sunscreen is a necessity in my part of the world, so instead of trusting & hoping the big companies are delivering me a safe & natural product I have chosen to make my own sunscreen -that I know is 100% safe for my family and yours.

You can purchase my 100% Natural, Organic sunscreen from  Etsy or direct from
our Shop
Stay Sun Safe
Mama-going-natural-signature

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