What Ingredients to Avoid In Sunscreen + 4 Non-Toxic Sunscreens
The days are longer. The sun is shining bright. School is a distant memory for kids and the beaches and pools are calling our names! Summer is in full swing. Sunscreen is an end cap fixture in all stores and people aren't leaving the house without slathering themselves head to toe in the protective goo.
While we are all well meaning and simply trying to protect ourselves and our crew from the harmful effects of the sun, sometimes the terrible chemicals that are in many sunscreens might (dare I say it) be worse for our bodies than the sun itself.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a fair-skinned-sunscreen-wearing lady. I always have a tube of it in my bag in case we caught out in the sun for too long. But I also know that not all sunscreens are something I really want to smear all over my body. Our skin, after all, is our biggest organ! Whatever we put on our skin will go into our systems! So, if I don't want to eat some gnarly chemical, than I certainly want to think twice about putting it on my skin!
Okay, so I've caught your attention. You don't want to blindly apply sunscreen chock full of less-than-clean ingredients, so what chemicals DO you avoid when picking out a sunscreen? And which sunscreens do I recommend you use?
Breathe deep. I know it all feels overwhelming and even a bit baffling. But I have done the digging and here is the dirt on sunscreen ingredients to steer clear of.
Just a quick and friendly reminder that I am not a medical doctor or scientist. All of the information in this post comes from my own research.
A preservative in many sunscreens (as well as makeups), parabens are used to stop fungus and mold from growing in your skin care products. There has been a lot of question in the past few years about how safe they truly are and some research even suggests that paprabens may increase the risk of breast cancer in an individual. Yikes! No thanks! And, just to add to the fun, identifying if a product is paraben-free is not super easy, as companies love to give it all sorts of creative and hard to say names like:
This is the ingredient you want to make extra sure to steer clear of when picking out your family's summer sunscreen and is sadly in many of the options that are out there! Oxybenzone is in so many sunscreens because it is a UV filter and acts as a synthetic form estrogen that penetrates the skin. It can really mess with the hormone system. Something none of us needs...but especially not growing kids!
Sometimes called also called "Octyl methoxycinnamate," this is another popular UV filter found in many sunscreens (and other personal products, to boot) whose toxicity is unsettling! Many people like sunscreens with octinoxate because it quickly absorbs into the skin, but studies have found that it can mess with the endocrine system and thyroid big time.
Many cosmetics contain rentinyl, also commonly referred to as retinol, as it is a form of Vitamin A. While it has wonderful anti-aging properties, retinyl palmitate is harmful when used on skin exposed to sunlight....making it a concerning ingredient to have in sunscreen. When Retinyl palmitate comes in contact with sunlight, It breaks down and creates free radicals that are damaging to our skin. Retinyl palmitate is rumored to increase the likelihood of skin lesions and skin cancer. Just....no. Isn't that what we are trying to avoid with wearing sunscreen in the first place?
While not an ingredient, I would highly suggest avoiding spray sunscreens. While wonderfully convenient, spray sunscreens are often inhaled when being applied...so your body is getting a dose of chemicals from the inside and outside.
Now that you know what NOT to look for in a sunscreen, which ones ARE safe to slather yourself in for this sunny season? Here are some thatI have vetted, used and enjoy.
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