Are Sun Screens Safe?

For the last 20-30 years, the American public has been made to fear the sun.

Medical research and the media have been reporting the dangers of sun exposure reflected in the rising skin cancer rates. Please note here that the key word is exposure. The effects of excessive sun is damaging to the skin for sure, but the body also needs vitamin D for health. The best way to raise vitamin D levels is to allow that conversion which takes place in the skin via direct sun exposure with UVB rays . So some natural sun exposure is GOOD! Just limit the amount of time to 15-25 minutes a day (depending on your skin tone). It is all about balance not complete avoidance.

Sun screens are important for longer outdoor exposures. Wearing hats and shirts is another protection, but if you are out on the beach, the golf course or on a boat, wear a good sun screen. Here are the important guidelines.

Your sun screen should:

  • Protect from both UVA & UVB sun rays.
  • Contain natural oils/crèmes as its base ingredient (not mineral oil).
  • Contain natural “mineral” based ingredients such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.
  • Not contain other chemical blockers such as oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate both chemicals known to be harmful (see list below).

Children are the most vulnerable when given unregulated and unnatural sun protection products. For example, oxybenzone is rapidly absorbed into the blood stream and can actually disrupt hormones. Not a good thing for a child.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a watchdog organization that pays close attention to harmful chemicals found in everyday life. See their site for greater details.

What makes me most concerned about sun screen ingredients is that this industry (cosmetic) is unregulated in what chemicals it can add to its products. In other words, manufacturers can put ingredients in these lotions that have not been well tested on humans. Here is a list of possible unsafe chemicals often found in sun screen products. Throw out your sun screen if it contains any of the following chemicals.

  • Octyl salicyclate
  • Avobenzone
  • Oxybenzone
  • Cinoxate
  • Padimate O
  • Dioxybenzone
  • Phenylbenzimidazole
  • Homosalate
  • Sulisobenzone
  • Menthyl anthranilate
  • Trolamine salicyclate
  • Octocrylene
  • Para amino benzoic acid

Here are a few companies you can rely on for natural safer ingredients:

Aubry Organics has the best natural ingredients. Alba Botanica is a brand that is a close second choice for a sunscreen. There are other safer sun screens available. Like the food we eat, we need to scrutinize these ingredient labels. Have a safe time in the sunshine and be aware of your exposure time.


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