Is your sunscreen safe? 86% in the market are not!

April 13, 2008 Katja Presnal

Enjoy life more – naturally! Check out EnjoyLifeOils.com

ENJOY LIFE IN THE SUN MORE WITH SAFE SUN LOTION!

Enjoy life more in the sun – with safe sunscreen!

It’s that time of the year again! Time to really think about SUNSCREEN. Shocking news is that most sun lotions in the market contain chemicals, which are bad for you and your family, the good news is that I have a list of several products right here for you, and you can check how your sunscreen measures up.

Read more about the safety concerns and sun lotions, and then see is your sun lotion on the safe side – if not, consider changing, you can never be too safe, right?

I read a very interesting article (CDC Finds 97 Percent of Americans Contaminated by Sunscreens) at Natural News this morning. The article was written by Ellen Holder, co-founder of Caren, an online store for natural, organic and synthetic chemical free skin care products. One sentence in particular crabbed my attention “And interestingly, as sunscreen sales have risen, so has the rate of skin cancers.”

What? Shouldn’t sunscreen protect us from skin cancer?

Obviously not.

According to The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) recent study nearly all Americans are contaminated with with oxybenzone, a common ingredient in sunscreens. Environmental Working Group (EWG) identifies nearly 600 sunscreens sold in the U.S. that contain oxybenzone, including household brand names like Hawaiian Tropic, Coppertone, and Banana Boat. Oxybenzone has been linked to allergies, hormone disruption, and cell damage. Oxybenzone was also recently linked to low birth weight in baby girls whose mothers are exposed during pregnancy, according to a study from the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.

What? Shouldn’t Food and Drug Administration (FDA) protect us from harmful chemicals like this?

Obviously not.

Time to really think about SUNSCREEN. Shocking news is that most sun lotions in the market contain chemicals, which are bad for you and your family, the good news is that I have a list of twenty products right here for you, and you can check how your sunscreen measures up. Read more about the safety concerns and sun lotions, and then see is your sun lotion on the safe side – if not, consider changing, you can never be too safe, right?

The fact is that FDA last reviewed the safety of oxybenzone in the 1970s. At present, there aren’t any health-based standards for safe levels of oxybenzone in the body. Europe, Canada and Australia changed sunscreen regulations in 1997 though, and oxybenzone was banned and three other specific active sunscreen ingredients – avobenzone (also known as Parsol 1789), titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide – were recommended as the basis of sunscreens.

Doesn’t this make you wonder, why in the USA, the cosmetic companies are still using the chemicals banned in other countries?

EWG’s research shows that some sunscreens on the U.S. market:

– offer inadequate protection from the sun;

– may be less safe and effective than products offered in other countries;

– are labeled with misleading product claims;

– contain ingredients with significant safety concerns.

I had to investigate more and find out is there a way to be outdoors safely, with or without sun screen. On the bottom of this post I also gathered twenty sunscreens and their active ingredients. There are several safe ones to choose from!

There are also natural ways to protect yourself from sun, like adding more Vitamin D in your diet, or increasing your melanin production. Read more. In addition you can use natural products to protect your skin. For example coconut oil helps.

Keep also in mind other Sun Safety issues, like wearing a hat and sunglasses and read Sun Facts from Skin Cancer Foundation.

HOW DOES SUNBLOCK WORK?

Let’s get the terminology right first.

Sunscreen is a product with an SPF of 2 and higher.

SPF means Sun Protection Factor.

Sunblock is a barrier between your skin and sun, and there can be two kinds of barriers: physical and chemical. Products higher than SPF 12 are sunblock. Most products are mixtures of physical and chemical barriers.

Difference between physical and chemical barriers:

PHYSICAL BARRIER:

Physical barrier is not absobed by your skin, it just sits on the skin’s surface. Light is either absorbed into the sunblock material or reflected away from the body back into the atmosphere similar to a mirror or tin foil. Physical protectors, such as zinc oxide, reflect UVA rays.

Physical sunblock ingredients

(UVA and UVB protection, non-irritating, non-allergenic)

ZINC OXIDE:

Recognized as a mild antimicrobial, wound healing and sunscreen agent. Primarily absorbs UVA light rather than scattering or reflecting, non-irritating, non-comedogenic, and micronized by forming many small micro particles for cosmetic use.

TITANIUM DIOXIDE:

Derived from Titanium, a highly reflective white chalky mineral, non-irritating, non-comedogenic, micronized by forming many small micro particles for cosmetic use, listed in the FDA monograph as one the top and most effective active ingredients for sun protection.

CHEMICAL BARRIER:

A chemical barrier has the ability to be absorbed by the skin, sunlight is invalid upon contact. Most chemical protectors absorb UVB rays. Meaning: the chemicals absorb the UVB rays, so your skin does not do it. None of the chemicals absord the whole spectrum of of UV rays (like physical barriers do), so several different chemicals are needed to make a protective chemical barrier.

Chemical sunblock ingredients

There are total of almost twenty different chemicals used in sunscreens. The problem with these chemicals: your skin absorbs them, and the chemical itself can be harmful for you.

OXYBENZONE and OCTINOXATE

Why they are so popular:

Not just blocking the UVA rays by reflecting them, but they are also penetration enhancers, chemicals that help other chemicals penetrate the skin better. It makes all those other chemicals in the sunscreen to work better.

Both are linked to developmental and reproductive toxicity, can harm skin in the cell level, which can lead to several health problems, which are not widely researched yet. Oxybenzone is also linked to cancer and harming the immune system.

AVOBENZONE, also known as also known as Parsol 1789

Avobenzone absorbs UVA rays. Recommended in Europe, but there are some safety concerns about its safety too.

HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT SUNBLOCK FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY?

There are over 900 sun lotions in the market in the United States at the moment, and 86% them offer inadequate protection from the sun, or contain chemicals which are harmful for you and your family. Seems like a mission impossible to try to find a sun lotion, which protects and fits in with your family’s needs. Luckily there are safe products, and I have the list of sun lotions right here for you. Some of them are well-known brands you should not use anymore and plenty of great safe choices.

DIY SUNLOTION WITH CARROT SEED ESSENTIAL OIL

Also consider making your own summer lotion with coconut oil and Carrot Seed and Lavender essential oil (instructions for the natural DIY summer lotion here). Note: this is not a sun block, but great every day summer lotion that has natural ingredients that will benefit your skin.

We recommend: sun lotion from Beautycounter

Safe sun lotions from Beautucounter

Protect All Over Sunscreen SPF 30 ($32) by Beautycounter was created with the entire family in mind. This lightweight, water-resistant sunscreen is formulated with non-nano zinc oxide, so it blends seamlessly into skin without leaving white streaks, protecting you against both UVA and UVB rays. Aloe helps hydrate skin, while antioxidant-rich green tea and blood orange extracts fight free radicals.
EWG’s Skin Deep Rating: 1

Active Ingredients:
Zinc Oxide 19% (Sunscreen)
Protect All Over uses non-nano zinc oxide, which is an effective, natural, and safe mineral sun blocker.

LIST OF POPULAR SUNSCREENS AND THEIR ACTIVE INGREDIENTS

LIST OF sun lotions not to use.
EWG has a “hall of shame” of sun lotions, and in addition here are a few examples of sun lotions that sounds great – but are not safe!

Alarming in these lotions: many of them are marketed for children, many have “Dermatologist recommended” text on the side of the bottle, many say “for sensitive skin” and “organic ingredients”. Don not let these marketing pitches fool you.

Alba Organic Lavender Sunscreen SPF 30
Octocrylene 10.0%,
Octinoxate 7.5%,
Oxybenzone 6.0%,
Octisalate 5.0%
EWG Rating: 5


Lubriderm Daily Moisturizer Lotion with Sunscreen SPF 15:
Octinoxate 7.5%
Octisalate 4%
Oxybenzone 3%
EWG Rating: 5


Neutrogena Sunblock, Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch SPF 30:
Avobenzone 3%
Homosalate 10%
Octisalate 5%
Octocrylene 2.8%
Oxybenzone 6%
EWG rating: 5


Mary Kay SPF 30 Sunscreen:
Homosalate 10%
Octinoxate 7.5%
Octisalate 5%
Oxybenzone 4%
Avobenzone 2%
EWG rating: 5

Aveeno Baby Sunblock Lotion, Continuous Protection, SPF 55:
Avobenzone
Homosalate
Octisalate
Octocrylene
Oxybenzone
EWG rating: 7

(This one: Pediatrician recommended… Do not buy!)


Banana Boat UltraMist Baby Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 50+
Homosalate 15%
Octinoxate 7.5%
Octisalate 5%
Titanium Dioxide 2.4%
EWG rating: 7

Supergoop! Sunlotion SPF50:
Avobenzone (Parsol 1789)
Octinoxate
Octisalate
Octocrylene
Padimate O
PRICE: $19
EWG rating: 5

CHOOSE FROM THESE SAFER SUN LOTIONS

Recommended: Our favorite sun lotions are from Beautycounter

Safe sun lotions from Beautucounter

Protect All Over Sunscreen SPF 30 by Beautycounter was created with the entire family in mind. This lightweight, water-resistant sunscreen is formulated with non-nano zinc oxide, so it blends seamlessly into skin without leaving white streaks, protecting you against both UVA and UVB rays. Aloe helps hydrate skin, while antioxidant-rich green tea and blood orange extracts fight free radicals.
EWG’s Skin Deep Rating: 1
Active Ingredients:
Zinc Oxide 19% (Sunscreen)
PRICE: $32

Protect All Over uses non-nano zinc oxide, which is an effective, natural, and safe mineral sun blocker.

Protect Stick Sunscreen ($18) is also formulated with non-nano zinc oxide. Beautycounter’s Stick Sunscreen provides sheer protection from UVA/UVB rays and glides on smoothly without leaving white residue. Compact and easy to use, the very kid-friendly stick is suitable for face and body and provides water-resistant sun protection for the entire family. Organic ingredients, including coconut oil and acai fruit oil, help to hydrate and protect your skin.

Comes in a limited-edition Sweet Tooth scent, a delicious aroma that comes from rich organic cocoa butter.
EWG’s Skin Deep Rating: 1
Active Ingredient: Zinc Oxide 15.4%.

Shop now at Beautycounter.

Is your sunscreen safe? Great info how to know if your sun lotion is safe, and a list of the best sun lotions to choose from https://www.skimbacolifestyle.com/2008/04/is-your-sunscreen-safe.html

Arbonne Baby Care Sunscreen SPF 30:
Zinc Oxide 14.4%
C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate,
PRICE: $31.99
EWG rating: 1

La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid for Face, Water Resistant with SPF 50 :
Avobenzone
Ecamsule
Octocrylene
PRICE: $25.13
EWG rating: 2

California Baby Water Resistant, Hypo-Allergenic Sunscreen, SPF 30+:
Micronized Titanium Dioxide
PRICE: $20.89
EWG rating: 1

TruKid Sunny Days™ SPF 30+ Natural Mineral Sunscreen:
Titanium dioxide 10%
PRICE: $17.29
EWG rating: 1

Vanicream Sunscreen, Sensitive Skin, SPF 30
Titanium Dioxide 5%
Zinc Oxide 5%
PRICE: $13.05
EWG rating: 1

Blue Lizard Sun lotion SPF 30 for Baby:
Titanium Dioxide 5%
Zinc Oxide 10%
PRICE: $22.50
EWG rating: 1

Keys Solar Rx:
Nano Zinc Oxide
PRICE: $26.95
EWG rating: 1

Badger Balm Spf25 Sunscreen Lotion – Unscented:
Zinc Oxide 20.5%
PRICE: $15.74
EWG rating: 1

WANT TO PROTECT YOURSELF MORE FROM CHEMICALS IN PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS?

 

The following ingredients have been linked to one or more of the following: cancer, neuro-damage, and developmental/reproductive toxicity. It’s a great idea to even print it out – who can remember these chemical names anyway!

(NOTE: THE FOLLOWING INGREDIENTS ARE IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER.)

1. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – Can be found in 90% of products that lather.

2. Avobenzone – Can be found in sunscreen.

3. PABA and PABA esters – Can be found in lipstick; products with SPF; lip balm; skin fading/lightener; conditioner; facial moisturizer/treatment; moisturizer; styling gel/lotion.

4. Cinnamates, also seen as Octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC) – Can be found in sunscreen.

5. Diethanolamine and Triethanolamine – Can be found in foundation; sunscreen SPF 15 and above; hair color and bleaching; moisturizer.

6. Paraben preservatives (Methyl, Propyl, Butyl, Ethyl, Isobutyl) – Can be found in facial moisturizer/treatment; anti-aging moisturizer; facial cleanser, sunscreen SPF 15 and above; conditioner; eye shadow; hair color and bleaching; foundation; shampoo.

7. Polyethylene glycol (also listed as PEG) – Can be found in facial moisturizer or treatment; hair color and bleaching; anti-aging moisturizer; facial cleanser; conditioner; shampoo; styling gel/lotion; body wash/cleanser; antiperspirant/deodorant.

8. Phthalates (listed under fragrance) – Can be found in most products in the fragrance.

9. Benzophone, more commonly known as Oxybenzone – Can be found in sunscreen.

10. Formaldehyde derivatives – can be found in nail polish

Start your path to wellness and ditch chemicals

Want to learn more how to ditch toxic chemicals in your skin care — and at home? Learn more about starting a wellness path with Young Living essential oils at EnjoyLifewithOils.com and switch toxic free cosmetics with BeautyCounter.

References:

CDC: Americans Carry Body Burden of Toxic Sunscreen Chemical, at EWG.

Oxybenzone, at 3Dchem.com

Sunblocks at 911skin.com

Sunscreen Summary — What Works and What’s Safe

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Katja Presnal

Katja Presnal shows how to live globally inspired life to the fullest and plan your dream life. Katja owns Presnal5 strategic marketing intelligence agency and wants to help marketing professionals to combine a dream career and dream life via freelance work.Katja is an award-winning marketing strategist, and a well-known speaker. Katja has lived in five different countries, and seven states in the USA. Her three children were all born in different countries within three years. When not working or jet-setting the world, Katja is at home cooking big family dinners.She has been featured in NY Times, Glamour, Redbook, Fodor's, Forbes and Woman's Day magazines among many other national and international publications and written for MTV3 and Lifetime TV networks.

Comments (27)

  1. nora

    I have a problem with all sunscreens I’ve tried. As soon as they get on my skin they develop a strong repulsive sunscreen odor that nauseates me, even if they are listed as fragrance free and appear to have to odor when in the tube or bottle.

    I’m going to test some of the ones you’ve listed and see if the “best” ones are ok. I suspect it is the chemicals that start with “O” that are the problem.

  2. sonia atias

    I’m glad somebody took time out of their life to research the truth for others’ quality of life and safety. I’d gladly pay more for a ‘safe’ product.

  3. Jamie

    Thanks so much for doing the research on this. I really had no idea (as I’m sure 99.9% of Americans feel) that this was something to be nervous about. I printed the list of “good” sunscreens to go get myself some! My family and I have been using Neutrogena Sunblock, Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch SPF 55 for years : /

  4. Hi,
    Great post! I’ve been checking out the EWG sunscreen site for the last 3 or 4 years. I’m so glad you’ve noted that some “safe” sounding sunscreens are even bad for you. Keep sharing the info. People look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them I will not use Oxybenzone or the likes of bad sunscreens.

  5. Yenson

    This is great info. Thanks a lot! However, I don’t understand why PEG is toxic. It’s known as the most biocompatible polymer that does not penetrate the skin. Please let me know the reason if any one knows. Thanks!

  6. Junaid

    This is the fine info about the sunscreen. Sunsreen is the very useful for skin care and protact us from many skin disease like lupus, vitiligo, and skin cancer ets. People suffering from Vitiligo use it for sunburn.
    I thing all the products you listed are fine. but I like Alba Organic Lavender Sunscreen because of its effectiveness.

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