The sunscreen substances that you simply actually wish to keep away from

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While sunscreens are an important part of any beauty kit, we now know that just walking into the store and getting an old sunscreen off the shelf isn’t that easy. There are many factors to consider when purchasing the safest, most effective sunscreen, and sunscreen ingredients are the best place to start.

If you’ve read anything about sunscreens in the past few years, you know that mineral sunscreens are the safest. They offer optimal protection against UVA and UVB rays and are safer than chemical sunscreens.

But what exactly is so bad about chemical sunscreens? We used them for years, right?

When we talk about synthetic ingredients in cosmetics, we usually just talk about the negative health effects they cause. From allergic reactions to cancer, there are many good reasons not to use toxic cosmetic ingredients.

The problem with chemical sunscreens is twofold. Yes, there are the bad things they can do for your health. Obviously not good. However, chemical sunscreens are nowhere near as effective in protecting against UV damage as mineral sunscreens.

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What’s Wrong With Chemical Sunscreens?

Let’s start with a little introduction to how UV rays can damage our skin and health. Ultraviolet (UV) rays carry ionizing radiation that causes a chemical reaction in the body. There are three types of UV rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVA rays penetrate the top layers of the skin and reach deeper layers, which can cause long-term damage such as premature aging and skin cancer. UVB rays act on the top layers of the skin and are responsible for sunburn. UVC rays are absorbed by the ozone layer before they reach the earth and do not pose a threat to our health.

Mineral and chemical sunscreens protect us differently from UV radiation. Chemical sunscreens penetrate the skin and absorb UV rays, preventing UVB rays from causing sunburn, while UVA rays can reach these deeper layers and cause their damage. Mineral sunscreens like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide create a barrier on the skin and reflect UV rays, preventing UVA rays from reaching deeper layers.

Add to this the negative health effects associated with commonly used chemical sunscreens. The main problems with chemical ingredients for sunscreens are hormonal imbalances and allergic reactions. Some widely used chemical sunscreens, such as estrogen, have been found to work in the body, causing hormonal imbalances, altering sperm, and playing a role in endometriosis.

The latest research by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shows that chemical sunscreens are absorbed by the body and can remain in the system for days and sometimes weeks. While the biological effects and the alleged risk of these chemicals being absorbed through the skin do not yet have to be proven, five applications over a period of two days showed elevated levels of the six most important chemical sunscreens (avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, octisalate and octinoxate) . ) in the bloodstream for up to three weeks. The values ​​ranged from three times the FDA threshold to 500 times.

While the FDA does not currently issue a warning against the use of these chemical sunscreens, it does recommend using other sun protection measures with sunscreens, such as B. Protective clothing.

How do I avoid those that are not good for your health or chemical skin protectants for the skin? First of all, you know that you cannot judge a cosmetic product by its front label. If a sunscreen says “mineral” on the front, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is free of chemical sunscreens. Yes, marketing back in action. Here is a breakdown of the most commonly used chemical sunscreens and why they should be avoided.

Common chemical sunscreen ingredients and why they should be avoided

Avoid sunscreen ingredients.

Avoid sunscreen ingredients.

Concerns about mineral sunscreens and nanoparticles

So, for all we know, why on earth would people still be using chemical sunscreens? Maybe because they can’t stand the greasy feeling and give off weird white sunscreens with a white glow?

Oh wait, that was totally the last decade. The new generation of mineral sunscreens offers this powerful UV protection and does not feel greasy or ghostly white on the skin. Win, win and win.

That means, no cosmetic is perfect. Mineral sunscreens present their own problems, primarily related to the particle size problem.

The particle size of zinc oxide and titanium determines how they look on the skin. This is where nanoparticles come into play. The smaller the particle size, the less likely the product will leave a white sheen on the skin.

The particle size also determines how mineral sun protection protects against UV rays. Smaller particles also offer a better sun protection factor or protection from UVB rays. However, tiny particles are less effective at protecting against UVA rays (usually zinc oxide offers better UVA protection than titanium dioxide due to the particle size). And there are some (as yet unfounded) concerns about whether these nanoparticles will be absorbed by the skin and the body. There are currently no studies that show that the skin absorbs nanoparticles to a significant extent. And they are certainly not capable of being absorbed at the level of sunscreen chemical ingredients, which are designed to be absorbed to be effective.

Another problem with nanoparticles is the use of powders and sprays. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) advises against the use of powder and spray sunscreens because of the inhalation risk, which they report has a more direct route to the system than skin absorption. The FDA has suggested further testing of sunscreen sprays for the presence of smaller particles that could penetrate and damage the lungs.

Because some research suggests that titanium dioxide and zinc oxide can be photoreactive when exposed to sunlight, potentially creating free radicals that could damage other cells in the body, some sunscreen manufacturers use coated nanoparticle-mineral sunscreen ingredients. Other manufacturers are opting for larger nanoparticles instead because of concerns about the substance used to coat the particles.

Whichever you choose, one thing is certain: using sunscreen is safer than not, and mineral sunscreens, whether nano or not, don’t seem to be absorbed by the body in the same amount as the chemical sunscreens in the table above .

If you are concerned about staying away from nanoparticle sunscreens, read the product labels to determine if a product you are buying contains nanos. Manufacturer websites often provide information on whether or not they include nanoparticles in their formulas and whether or not they use coated minerals. Our product recommendations in our sun protection manual contain details about Nanos and other useful information that should help you when buying sun protection.

Other ingredients that should be avoided in sunscreens

Chemical sunscreens aren’t the only toxins known in sunscreen products. As with all cosmetic and personal care products, it is important to read the labels and select items with safe, natural ingredients. When shopping for sunscreen, check the ingredient lists for the following.

Petrolatum, petroleum jelly and mineral oil show up in sunscreens to make them feel moisturizing, but these ingredients are often contaminated with carcinogens. They’re also occlusive, which means that they prevent pores from releasing toxins and absorbing moisture from the air. Petroleum ingredients often cause skin irritation and acne.

Silicones, like Dimethicone, are used in sunscreens to create a smooth feel and provide water repellent properties. Silicones are another group of occlusive ingredients that clog pores and sometimes cause skin irritation.

Many conventional sunscreens contain synthetic preservatives, such as Parabens and Methylisothiazolinone (MIT)which can lead to neurotoxicity, allergic reactions, fetal impairment and hormonal imbalances.

Is your sun protection full? synthetic fragrance ingredients? These toxins have been linked to headaches, nausea, dizziness, skin irritation, and have been linked to asthma and even cancer.

While Retinyl palmitate (a form of vitamin A) is not a toxic ingredient, it has been shown to be photosensitive which means that if exposed to sunlight it can increase the chance of developing skin cancer, skin damage, and aging of the skin. Accidental uptake of vitamin A by vegetable oils that contain it is less of a problem than using sunscreens that contain the more concentrated retinyl palmitate. Look for “retinyl palmitate” or “vitamin A palmitate” in the sunscreen ingredients.

So, for all we know, why on earth should people still be using chemical sunscreens? Maybe because they can’t stand the greasy feeling and give off strange, glowing white mineral sunscreens. Oh wait, that was totally the last decade. The new generation of mineral sunscreens offers this powerful UV protection and does not feel greasy or ghostly white on the skin. Win, win and win.

As with all cosmetics, the only way to make sure a product is safe is to read the list of ingredients. If it has chemical sunscreens from the list above, put it back on the shelf, step back, and buy yourself some super safe, highly effective sunscreen from our latest sunscreen guide.

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* This article was updated on August 12, 2020 with the latest research from the FDA.

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