November 25, 2015
Sunscreen has been in the news a lot lately, and there has been some concern over some of the harmful ingredients in conventional (non-natural) sunscreen formulas. So how can you tell if you're protecting or harming yourself; and what are the healthiest sunscreens available? Hopefully this post will answer these questions and help to make shopping for sunscreen a little easier in the summer months. Read on!
I hope this Cutie's wearing sun protection.
What do sunscreens do anyway?
Sunscreens protect us from sun damage through the use of ‘filters’ – ingredients which filter UV radiation. These can either be chemical filters or mineral filters. Most commercial sunscreens (the ones you buy at the chemist or supermarket) contain chemical filters, which usually includes one or more of these five ingredients:
Oxybenzone and octinoxate are particularly concerning, scoring an 8 and a 6 on the Environmental Working Group’s hazardous ingredients database. Studies have found oxybenzone to have high skin penetration – up to 9%. Octinoxate is lower at 1%, but they’ve both been linked to hormone disruption and skin allergies. Oxybenzone is thought to act like an estrogen in the body, and has been found to alter sperm production in animals. Octinoxate also has hormone-like activity, and has been found to cause thyroid issues in animal studies.
The latter two filters are a little less scary, but still don’t fall on the ‘good’ ingredients list. Homosalate accumulates in the body faster than it can be processed, and breaks down into toxic waste products over time. Octocrylene produces oxygen radicals when exposed to UV radiation, which can cause cell damage. It’s also been linked with skin allergies.
So what’s the good news..?
Well, there is less compelling evidence against chemical filters octisilate and avobenzone, which are often used in conjunction (octisilate stabilises avobenzone). If you must use a chemical sunscreen, look for one that contains these filters instead.
Even better news is that you don’t have to use products with chemical filters at all. There is now a wide range of mineral-based sunscreen products available, which use either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to filter the UV. These mineral ingredients have both demonstrated less than 0.01% skin penetration in human volunteers, and neither has been found to cause hormone disruption or allergy issues. Eco Tan’s Natural Coconut Sunscreens are one example; they contain zinc oxide to filter UV and offer SPF30+ protection.
I hope this has been helpful. Have you made the switch to natural sun protection? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Until next time x