Summer is here! The stores are stocked with summer essentials, including sunscreen of coarse! I’m sure many of you may have seen, sunscreen has been all over the news lately having people question: is it really safe? To quickly answer that. YES it is safe, but not all sunscreens are safe. Just like anything else you put on your body, you NEED to read the labels, and research what is in your products. Especially sunscreen, as we generally use it head to toe, covering the body’s largest organ – the skin! I understand researching sunscreen can be too time consuming for many people. For that very reason convenience often times overrules our health. Most people will got to their local store and grab whatever sunscreen is on the self, checking the SPF, maybe the price, and call it a day. To make it easier, I have created this simple sunscreen guide for you to help you understand what ingredients should be avoided, what is safe in sunscreen, and a list of 5 non-toxic sunscreens for you to consider using this summer.
Ingredients to absolutely avoid:
- Retinyl palmitate
- Fragrance (unless you know it is fragranced with non-toxic ingredients)
- Octyl dimethyl
- P-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)
Avoiding any of these ingredients is a must for any of our personal care products!
Additional ingredients to avoid if possible:
- Avobenzon- Considered safe, rates a 2. Reacts with sunlight, and needs to be mixed with a chemical stabalizer. The stabilizers it is mixed with are often toxic, so it’s best to avoid.
- Sulisobenzone – Possible endocrine disrupter according to study (Kunz PY, Galicia HF, Fent K- Pubmed) Also known as BENZOPHENONE.
So, why should we avoid these ingredients?
Oxybenzone: EWG Rating: 8 Known to disrupt the endocrine system. According to research done by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention this ingredient contaminates the bodies of 97% of Americans. Yikes! It’s one of the most common ingredients we find in sunscreens, and one of the main ingredients we need to avoid!
Octinoxate: EWG Rating: 6 This ingredient is a known endocrine disrupter. Also, banned in Hawaii because it isn’t good for the coral reefs.
Retinyl Palmitate: EWG Rating: 9 This is a form of Vitamin A and palmitate acid. This ingredient reacts to UV rays, and a study from the FDA shows that this ingredient when applied to the skin, combined with sunlight can quicken the development of skin tumors. WAIT. Aren’t we trying to protect our skin and avoid skin tumors with sunscreen, yet this is a sunscreen ingredient we need avoid. I know what you’re thinking friends….what the heck right?!
Homosalate: EWG Rating: 4 Chemical filter. Endocrine disruptor. Disrupts estrogen, androgen, and progesterone.
Avobenzone: EWG Rating: 2 While this ingredient hasn’t been found to disrupt our hormones like many of the others, and it actually rates low as a 2 on EWG, it is not sun-stable for sunscreen. Meaning that it is intended to protect against UVA rays, but the sun can cause it to break down and lose it’s effectiveness, so it needs to be mixed with a stabilizer chemical. So, it’s not necessarily this ingredient you need to worry about, it’s some of the chemical stabilizers that are used.
Parabens: EWG Rating: 4,7,8 depending on specific paraben Parabens are added into many cosmetics and personal care products as a preservative, but majority are endocrine disruptors. There are multiple different parabens in then “paraben family”. Some that are known to be used in products are Isopropylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Butylparaben,Ethylparaben, Opylparaben…. ALL endocrine disruptors!
Fragrance: EWG Rating: 8 The label fragrance or “parfum” is something we should avoid in all products unless we are sure that is is fragranced with non-toxic ingredients. Fragrance is considered a companies “trade secret” in their product’s ingredients, rightfully so. But, the issue with this ingredient/ label is they can hide all sorts of hormone disrupting, toxic ingredients under their “fragrance umbrella” and we have no clue what hidden ingredients are in there. So, like I said, unless you know the ingredient is fragranced with non-toxic ingredients, this lable can’t be trusted.
Phthalates: EWG rating: many rate up to a 10 Just like parabens there is a “family” of phthalates. Phthalates are a a chemical compound that are generally used to make products more flexible. They are used in toys, plastics, flooring, etc. They are also commonly found in our personal care products. This chemical is a known endocrine disruptor and should be avoided.
Octyl dimethyl: EWG Rating: 5 Derivative of PABA. Research shows this to release free radicals, and cause damage to DNA. If you don’t know about free radicals, go research. They cause havoc on the body.
P-aminobenzoic acid (PABA): EWG Rating: 6 This ingredient is now commonly avoided, due to it’s harmful effects. Research shows that it is possibly carcinogenic. Now, PABA derivatives are used in it’s place, but those too cause issues and are not safe.
Ensulizole: EWG Rating: 3 According to EWG, this ingredient is known to create free radicals when exposed to sunlight. So, an ingredient in our sun protectants, creates free radicals, which in turn can cause havoc on the body and aid in the development of cancer and potentially cause cancer. That completely goes against what we want to protect and prevent.
Now that you’ve read what all this junk can do to your body are you ready to ditch and switch your suncreen? I hope so! Listed below is 5 non-toxic, safe sunscreens.
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SAFE NON-TOXIC sunscreens:
- Young Living Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 Broad Spectrum. This is not rated on EWG, but I have researched it’s active ingredient, and inactive ingredients for you. Below is a list of ingredients with the rating number next to it, showing it is a safe, non-toxic sunscreen. It is also recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation for daily use. Ordering instructions here.
Active Ingredient: Zinc Oxide 22% Rated -2
Inactive Ingredients: Grape seed-1, coconut oil-1, tapioca starch-1, octyldodecyl oleate-1, beeswax-1, hydrogenated vegetable oil-1, candelilla wax-1, cocoa butter-1, silica-1, tocopherol-1, jojoba oil-1, bisabolol-1, helichrysum italicum flower oil-1, lavender oil-1, commiphora myrrha oil-1, cistus ladaniferus oil-1, picea mariana leaf oil-1, cananga oil, carrot seed oil-1, sunflower oil-1, calendula officinalis flower-1, matricaria chamomilla-1, Boswellia sacra resin oil-1, raspberry seed oil-1, virola sebifera seed oil-1, Mauritia flexuosa fruit oil-1
So, with all inactive ingredients being individually rated a 1 on EWG and the active ingredient rated a 2, we can say this product is non-toxic and safe.
2. Beauty Counter Sunscreen 30 SPF
Favorite product: Counter Sun Sunscreen Mist
Doesn’t use aresol. It is air powered, which I like. Plus, super easy application. They have also recently come out with a tinted sunscreen mist, which is super exciting! I have yet to research all of the ingredients though.
EWG Rating- Rated a 3 for zinc oxide and lemon peel oil, which aren’t concerning to me. The other inactive ingredients in the product rate 1-2
3. Badger Sunscreen SPF
EWG Rating: 1
4. Earth Mama SPF 40
EWG Rating: 1
5. Juice Beauty Sport Sunscreen SPF 30
EWG Rating: 1
Not only are these sunscreens family safe, they are REEF SAFE.
If you’re still unsure about any of the ingredients you should be avoiding, you can research them on EWG. You can also find all resources under data resources to read articles, and studies. Another good source are peer reviewed articles from PUBMed. PLEASE do your research friends, and if you are ever unsure ask questions!