Is Your Sunscreen Safe?

Uncategorized Jun 18, 2018

If you’ve ever gotten a sunburn, then you know just how important a good, safe sunscreen can be. The problem is that not all sunscreens are created equal, and the consensus among scientists is that sunscreen alone will not prevent certain skin cancers.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use sunscreen. It just means that you shouldn’t rely solely on it.

To help you figure out which sunscreens are best and how you can best utilize them with other sun protective measures, check out these eight facts:

There’s no proof that sunscreens alone prevent most skin cancer.

Rates of melanoma have tripled over the past 35 years, and little evidence has been found by scientists and public health agencies that the use of sunscreen in isolation from other sun protective measures prevents most types of skin cancer.

Don’t be fooled by high SPF.

High-SPF products tempt people to apply too little sunscreen and stay in the sun too long. The FDA has proposed prohibiting the sale of sunscreens with SPF values greater than 50+ because they are “inherently misleading.”

The common sunscreen additive—vitamin A or retinyl palmitate—may speed development of skin cancer.

The sunscreen industry adds a form of vitamin A to a percentage of its sunscreens—beach and sport sunscreens, moisturizers, and even lip products. According to the federal government, this additive may trigger the development of skin tumors and lesions when used on skin in the presence of sunlight. Other governments too warn that cosmetics may contribute to unsafe amounts of vitamin A.

European sunscreens provide better UVA protection.

Nearly every sunscreen sold in the United States claims to offer “broad spectrum” protection, which suggests they shield against harmful UVA rays. Many are too weak to be sold in Europe. Sunscreen makers in Europe can formulate their products with chemicals that offer stronger protection from UVA rays.

Sunscreen doesn’t protect skin from all types of sun damage.

SPF measures protection from sunburn, but not other types of skin damage. The sun’s ultraviolet rays also generate free radicals that damage DNA and skin cells, accelerate skin aging and may cause skin cancer.

Some sunscreen ingredients disrupt hormones and cause skin allergies.

Sunscreen is designed to be applied to large portions of the body, several times per day. Sunscreen ingredients soak through skin and can be detected in people’s blood, urine and even mothers’ breast milk. Several commonly used ingredients appear to block or mimic hormones, and others cause allergic reactions on sensitive skin.

Mineral sunscreens contain nanoparticles.

Most zinc oxide and titanium dioxide-based sunscreens contain nanoparticles one-twentieth the width of a human hair, to reduce or eliminate the chalky white tint that larger particles leave on the skin.

If you avoid sun, check your vitamin D levels.

Sunshine causes the body to produce vitamin D, which strengthens bones and the immune system and reduces risks of breast, colon, kidney and ovarian cancers, and perhaps other disorders. Many people can’t or shouldn’t rely on the sun for vitamin D, but should have their vitamin D levels checked to know if they should take seasonal or year-round supplements.


Let’s go a bit further with these, specifically with #6, and discuss the trouble with ingredients in sunscreens.

Sunscreen is meant to be applied to large areas of the body and to be reapplied throughout the day. Because of that many sunscreen chemicals are absorbed into the body. The most common sunscreens on the market contain the following ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate.

Laboratory studies indicate that some chemical UV filters may mimic hormones, and physicians report sunscreen-related skin allergies, which raises important questions about their safety.

The Food and Drug Administration has not reviewed evidence of potential hazards of sunscreen filters – instead it grandfathered in ingredients used in the late 1970s when it began to consider sunscreen safety.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has reviewed the existing data about human exposure and toxicity for the nine most commonly used sunscreen chemicals. The most worrisome is oxybenzone. Nearly 65 percent of the non-mineral sunscreens in EWG’s 2018 sunscreen database contained oxybenzone. Oxybenzone can cause allergic skin reactions (Rodriguez 2006). In laboratory studies it is a weak estrogen and has potent anti-androgenic effects (Krause 2012, Ghazipura 2017).


Given all of this information, choosing your next sunscreen might seem like an overwhelming task. To help you, check out the top-rated sunscreens from the EWG.

Top Picks for Best Beach & Sport Sunscreens:

My personal recommendation:

Beautycounter Mineral Sunscreen Lotion and Stick – purchase here from my good friend, Dr. Christine Maren.

Check out the whole list here.

Top Pick for Best Moisturizers with SPF:

My personal recommendation:

DeVita Natural Solar Protective Moisturizer – I use this everyday!!!

Check out the whole list here.

Some of the Best Sunscreens for Kids:

Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Lotion Sunscreen, Sensitive Skin, SPF 50
Kiss My Face Organics Kids Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30

Check out the whole list here.

Now, I’d love to know what sunscreen you use and if you’ll be making a change to something safer. Please let me know in the comments below.


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