and the Dangers of Chemical Sunscreens

Dangerous UV Rays

We get two kinds of rays from the sun. One is UVB, and the other is UVA. UVB rays can cause sunburn and cancer. UVA can cause skin cancer, and early wrinkling and skin aging. This ray is also what the body is exposed to in a tanning bed.

Most brands of sunscreen (or sunblock) will protect from sunburn (UVB). A brand that offers "broad spectrum" protection is supposed to protect you from both UVA and UVB rays. "Only 15% of 952 products analyzed met [Environmental Working Group's] EWG's criteria for safety and effectiveness, blocking both UVA and UVB radiation, remaining stable in sunlight, and containing few if any ingredients with significant known or suspected health hazards." (1)

Ingredients Proven to Be Safe in Sunscreens

Only brands whose active ingredient is zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (or both) have been proven to be safe. Either of these will block harmful sun rays. These are also natural elements. Other ingredients used in sunscreens are chemicals that absorb the harmful rays and the skin absorbs the chemicals because they break down in the sun, and some may also build up in the body.

"Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are stable compounds that provide broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection, while the available studies consistently show very little or zero penetration of intact skin by these compounds ..." (1)

Ingredients Not Proven to Be Safe in Sunscreens

The safety of those with different active ingredients (especially those containing oxybenzone, micronized titanium dioxide, nano titanium dioxide, micronized zinc oxide, or nano zinc oxide) has not been proven. When zinc oxide or titanium dioxide is micronized or reduced to nano scale, it no longer blocks the bad rays but instead is absorbed by the body. When sunscreen is offered as a spray or pump, the ingredients have been micronized or nanonized and are then able to be inhaled.

The Possible Dangers of Sunscreen and Actual Dangers

An EWG study shows that "consumers who use sunscreens without zinc and titanium are likely exposed to more UV radiation and greater numbers of hazardous ingredients than consumers relying on zinc and titanium products for sun protection. We found that consumers using sunscreens without zinc and titanium would be exposed to an average of 20% more UVA radiation with increased risks for UVA-induced skin damage, premature aging, wrinkling, and UV-induced immune system damage than consumers using zinc- and titanium-based products. They contain four times as many high hazard ingredients known or strongly suspected to cause cancer or birth defects, to disrupt human reproduction or damage the growing brain of a child. They also contain more toxins on average in every major category of health harm considered: cancer (10% more), birth defects and reproductive harm (40% more), neurotoxins (20% more), endocrine system disruptors (70% more), and chemicals that can damage the immune system (70% more)." (1)


According to Dr. Cameron Hayden (University of Queensland, Australia), "It would be prudent not to apply oxybenzone to large surface areas of skin for extended and repeated periods of time, unless no alternative protection is available. There may be additional concern for young children who have less well-developed processes of elimination and have a larger [skin] surface area per body weight than adults, with respect to systemic availability of a topically applied dose." But this is exactly how sunscreen is used. (2)

The Safest Sunscreen Products

Products whose active ingredient is zinc oxide or titanium oxide appear to be the safest for use by adults, males and females alike, and children. Below is a list of the safest sunscreens, in alphabetical order, and links to some (many of which probably not in every store) are provided.

List of the Safest Sunscreens

  • Alba Botanica Fragrance Free Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 18 (not all Alba products)
  • Alba Botanica Kids Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 18 (not all Alba products)
  • Alba Botanica Facial Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 10 (not all Alba products)
  • Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen, SPF 30
  • BabyGanics Cover Up Baby Sunscreen for Face & Body SPF 50+, Fragrance Free
  • Banana Boat Natural Reflect Baby Sunscreen, SPF 50
  • Blue Lizard Australian Suncream, SPF 30, Baby (not all Blue Lizard products)
  • Blue Lizard Australian Suncream, SPF 30+, Sensitive (not all Blue Lizard products)
  • Burt's Bees, SPF 30
  • Burt's Bees Sunscreen with Hemp Seed Oil, Chemical Free
  • Episencial Sunny Sunscreen, Unscented
  • Fallene Cotz Sunscreen, Water Resistant, SPF 58
  • Jason Natural Cosmetics Chemical Free Sunblock, SPF 30+ (not all Jason products)
  • Jason Natural Cosmetics Earth's Best Organic Sunblock, Chemical Free, SPF 30+ (not all Jason products)
  • Kiss My Face Non-Chemical Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 18 (not all Kiss My Face products)
  • Mustela Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen Lotion
  • Nature's Gate Mineral Sportblock, SPF 20 (not all Nature's Gate products)
  • Nature's Gate Mineral Kid'sblock, SPF 20 (not all Nature's Gate products)
  • Nature's Gate Mineral Sunblock, SPF 20 (not all Nature's Gate products)
  • Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunblock SPF 60+ (not all Neutrogena products)
  • PreSun Sunblock, Sensitive, SPF 28, Cream (not all PreSun products)
  • ProCyte Ti-Silc Sheer Sunblock, SPF 45
  • Safe Sea Sunblock with Jellyfish Sting Protective Lotion, SPF 15
  • Vanicream Sunscreen, Sensitive Skin, SPF 60
  • Vanicream Sunscreen, Sensitive Skin, SPF 30


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