Concerns associated with typical sunscreens:
- Some sunscreen chemicals are readily absorbed through the skin and can enter the bloodstream. Once commonly used UV filters are absorbed into the skin and bloodstream, it can generate harmful components called reactive oxygen species, which are substances that can cause skin cancer. Thus, sunscreen soaked into the skin can form the very dangerous compound it was meant to block. This may be a particular concern for young kids who have less well-developed processes of elimination and a larger surface area per body weight than adults.
- Many sunscreen chemicals have strong estrogenic actions that can interfere with normal sexual development, cause reproductive problems, can increase cancers, and cause birth defects in children. Children's organs are more sensitive to estrogen exposure than adult's and can develop abnormalities at their early stages (including embryo, fetus, and toddler stages) if exposed.
- The chemicals in sunscreens can cause skin irritation and rashes.
- Common sunscreen ingredients are suspected or known carcinogens and/or hormone disrupters, including diethanolamine, triethanolamine (DEA, TEA), padimate-o, octyl dimethyl PABA, benzophenone, oxybenzone, homosalate, octyl-methoxycinnamate (octinoxate), salicylates, and parabens.
- A popular sunscreen chemical, called Benzophenone (Benzophenone-3, Oxybenzone) is a powerful free radical generator activated by ultraviolet light. Studies suggest that these free radicals could initiate reactions that may ultimately lead to melanoma and other skin cancers, conditions that sunscreen is supposed to prevent. Moreover, Benzophenone has been linked to allergies, hormone disruption, and low birth weight in infant girls whose mothers used the chemical during pregnancy. According to the CDC
97% of Americans are contaminated with this widely-used sunscreen ingredient.
- Triethanolamine (TEA) is a commonly found ingredient in sunscreen. However, this chemical can combine with nitrite (used as a preservative and often not labeled on cosmetic products, or present as an environmental contaminant) to cause formation of cancer-causing nitrosamines.
- Parabens (butyl-, ethyl-, methyl-, and propyl-)
are very commonly used in sunscreens. They are preservatives that have estrogenic qualities, which have been found to produce decreased testosterone levels and other abnormalities in laboratory rodents. In addition, parabens have been found to accumulate in the breast tissue of women with breast cancer.
- Padimate-O and Parsol 1789 (Avobenzone) can cause DNA damage when absorbed into the skin. Sunlight may cause these chemicals to become reactive and cause free-radical damage when absorbed.
Recommended Healthy and Safe Sunscreen
Given the concerning chemicals that is often found in sunscreen, it is important to seek out healthy sunscreen that adequately protects from the sun, but does not contain dangerous ingredients. Most green sunscreens are made from zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
Zinc oxide is a mineral providing complete UVB/UVA protection, has anti-inflammatory properties and is considered to be a safe sunscreen ingredient. Zinc oxide is the only FDA approved sunscreen to be used on children under 6 months of age.
The typical formulation of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide leaves a white residue on the skin and is not absorbed into the skin or blood stream. To create a clear skin product, these ingredients are sometimes made in the form of nano-size particles. However, there is some concern that nano-particles have higher photo-reactivity than coarser particles and may generate free radicals that can cause cell damage. At this point the safety of nano-particles has not been proven and I therefore included sunscreen without these particles in my recommendations.
This is the sunscreen I use on my son and I highly recommend it. It is chemical free and uses non-penetrating titanium dioxide (no nano particles) to protect against the sun. It is made with organic and sustainably ingredients. This sunscreen is often highly recommended by pediatricians for kids with allergies and for infants under 6 months of age (always ask your pediatrician before using sunscreen on your infant younger than 6 months of age). Skin Deep Rating: 1.
This is a safe sunscreen that is 100% chemical free and is made with all natural ingredients. It is known to be one of the safest sunscreens out there. Skin Deep Rating:1.
A safe and affordable sunscreen. Made from micronized Titanium Dioxide 10%. Nice citrus scent. Skin Deep Rating: 1.
Jason Natural Sunbrellas
Chemical Free Sun Block SPF 30+
A chemical, fragrance and paraben free complete UVA & UVB protection. This sunscreen is ideal for sensitive skin. We used this sunscreen last year and I really liked it. It has a very nice smell to it and goes on well. Skin Deep Rating: 1.
You can also visit Carisa's blog, Lil' Ladybug to see her post about safer suncreen here.