When I was small, the only thing that people used sunscreen for was to help them get a better tan. They even sold oils that you slathered all over and laid in the sun to get a darker tan. How crazy was that? Now we know better, and should realize that any tan is really skin damage, so shouldn’t be encouraged.
Now we’ve got all kinds of sunscreens to prevent your skin from being damaged from the sun. But, we’ve got to ask ourselves the question – how harmful are the ingredients in our sunscreens?
Turns out that some of these ingredients are so troublesome that they can only be sold in the E.U. if they are clearly labeled on the product so that anyone who has concerns regarding them can steer clear if they want to. Not so in the U.S.
The ingredient in sunscreen that has caused the largest concern is Oxybenzone. This chemical has been proven to have several detrimental effects on humans: it has been found in mother’s breast milk; it acts like estrogen in the body and has been linked to altering sperm in lab animals, while a troubling link has occurred in increasing endometriosis in women; and it is also associated with skin rashes. It has also been linked to low birth-weight in female babies.
Another ingredient often found in sunscreen is methylisothiazolineone. The problem with this chemical is a preservative, and is linked to extreme allergy reactions in children. The American Contact Dermatitis Society named this chemical, also called MI, its allergen of the year.
Many sunscreens are made with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide nanoparticles. These are added to the sunscreen to help the zinc (which is added to sunscreen to add protection against the sun) to be less chalky; remember the lifeguard with the white nose?; this helps to eliminate the “white nose effect”. However, there is no evidence on whether these nanoparticles enter the skin, and if they do so what effect do they have?
Of course being nanoparticles, there are other environmental concerns about them.
As of right now there has been little research into the effects that these materials may have on the environment, however the researchers showed a concern regarding their use.
So, as you can see, the use of sunscreens can be a little troubling. As an extremely fair person (light blue eyes, blond hair, Swedish heritage), I was more than a little upset to find out that there are these harmful chemicals in the sunscreens that I had been using so often. If you go here,
there is a list of non-toxic sunscreens.
So, before heading out to enjoy your day in the sun, please be careful of what is in your sunscreen.