Why (Most) Sunscreens are Harmful
Sunscreens are harmful?
Sunscreen use has risen in past decades, as media outlets and doctors tout the benefits of sunscreen for protecting against skin cancer and sunburn. The problem with this billion dollar a year market: not all sunscreens are created equal and in many cases sunscreen is harmful, not helpful.
There are two ways that a sunscreen can protect the skin from sun damage: with a mineral barrier or a chemical one.
Mineral sunscreens typically include ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which create a physical barrier to protect the skin from the sun.
Chemical sunscreens use one or more chemicals including oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate.
If you’ve been around my blog before, you’ve probably seen my stance that if you can’t eat it, you shouldn’t put it on your skin, but these sunscreen chemicals raise some special concerns because many are able to cross into skin and other tissue.
With these chemicals, it is important to ask questions such as:
Will this cross the skin and get into other tissue in the body?
Does this chemical have the potential to disrupt hormones, especially in children?
Are there long-term or allergy reactions to these chemicals.
This new research by the EWG reveals that the chemicals commonly used in sunscreen are endocrine disruptors, estrogenic and may interfere with thyroid and other hormone processes in the body.
The most common sunscreen chemical, Oxybenzone, was found in 96% of the population by a recent study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This is especially alarming since oxybenzone is considered an endocrine disruptor, can reduce sperm count in men and may contribute to endometriosis in women.
The EWG warns against using oxybenzone, especially on children or pregnant/breastfeeding women.
Spray sunscreens have become increasingly popular in recent years, but have additional dangers, especially if inhaled. Consumer Reports warns that spray sunscreens should not be used on children and that adults should exercise caution and make sure not to use on the face or inhale them.
Many sunscreens also contain methylisothiazolinone, which the American Contact Dermatitis Society named as its “allergen of the year”
The EWG’s most recent report listed Neutrogena as the #1 sunscreen brand to avoid, citing high concentrations of oxybenzone and other hormone disrupting chemicals, and misleading claims about their SPF levels.
Vitamin D Dilemma
We’ve already established that some sunscreen is harmful and may do more harm than good, but another important consideration that is often ignored: Vitamin D.
Most sunscreens completely block the body’s ability to manufacture Vitamin D. Statistically, 75% of us are deficient in Vitamin D and Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to higher risk of cancer and heart disease (which kill more people than skin cancer per year
We might literally be cutting off our noses to spite our faces when it comes to sun exposure. We lather up with chemical sunscreens that have the potential to greatly increase skin cancer risk and reduce Vitamin D production in the name of avoiding skin cancer, and increase our risk of more widespread diseases related to Vitamin D deficiency.
A Safer Option: Mineral Sunscreens
Mineral sunscreens are typically considered a safer option, but with a few caveats…
Some mineral sunscreens also contain some of the chemical ingredients above and have the same risks.
Pure sun protection cream use non-nano zinc oxide for a safe and natural sun protection.
The Safest Option: Cover Up
If sun exposure is a big concern for you or you have a family history of skin cancers, the safest form of sun protection: covering up.
With all the information and mis-information about sunscreen out there, the easiest and safest way to avoid sun damage is to stay in the shade, wear a hat or long sleeves.
Internal Sun Protection:
Another important step to protecting the skin from sun damage is supporting the body internally.
Here you can read about minerals and vitamins to help you protect your body from the inside.
Together with a safe and effective sun protection you are ready to go!