I have been doing ALOT of research into safe and natural sunscreens lately because I have recently become aware of the amount of chemical filled sunscreens that are on the market and how they can be doing more harm to us than good. I have learnt some valuable information ( i will try to keep this post simple tho 😉 .. I could go on and on!) that I had no idea about before hand so I thought it would be great to share with you all.
A few particularly scary facts I have learnt is that some sunscreens on the market are advertised as having high SPF’s when in actual fact they are much lower. Most sunscreens contain chemicals and 6 scary ingredients that are commonly found in them are-
Oxybenzone (over 40% of sunscreens on the market contain this!)- a chemical that may disrupt hormones, can cause eczema like skin reactions, can reduce sperm count in men and may contribute to endometriosis in women.
Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A Palmitate)– a chemical that can damage sun exposed skin, studies have shown that this chemical may speed the development of malignant cells and skin tumors by 21% when applied to the skin before sun exposure.
Octinoxate- a chemical that can cause hormone disruption, it can effect estrogen and can be harmful for humans and wildlife. It also contains free radicals that can damage skin and cells.
Homosalate- becomes toxic and also disrupts hormones.
Octocrylene- can damage cells and cause mutations, it can accumulate within your body in measurable amounts and it is toxic to the environment.
Paraben Preservatives- associated with acute and chronic side effects, causes allergic reactions, hormone disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, suspected that it may cause breast cancer.
EWG have tested over 1400 sunscreens- only 5% met their safety standards and over 40% were listed as potentially contributing to skin cancer!!
If you didn’t know, SPF stands for sun protection factor which protects us from UVB rays. Now there are two diffent types of UV rays- UVB rays which burn the layers of skin and is the leading cause of skin cancer and UVA rays which is also related to skin cancer, leads to premature skin aging, wrinkling and suppression of the immune system. To make sure we have protection from both UVA and UVB rays we need to use sunscreens that have an SPF of 15 or higher, plus some combination of the following UVA-screening ingredients- stabilized avobenzone, ecamsule (a.k.a. MexorylTM), oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide. These sunscreens may be labeled as- multi spectrum, broad spectrum or UVA/UVB protection.
There are two types of sunscreens- chemical and physical. Most ingredients found in mainstream sunscreens are chemicals that are absorbed into the skin and these chemicals can seep into our bloodstreams, they provide a thin protective film on the surface of the skin and absorb the UV radiation before it penetrates the skin. The physical sunscreens are made from minerals such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide and they sit on top of the skin like an extra layer and they physically block or reflect the suns UVA and UVB rays away from the skin, these are the better ones for us, they do however tend to leave a white cast since they contain zinc oxide (try to avoid the ones that contain NANO PARTICLES or MICRONIZED zinc oxide/titanium dioxide as these are teeny tiny particles that have been broken down which penetrate the skin and may also carry risks. Just normal zinc oxide particles do not penetrate the skin).
Aerosol scuncreens may be convenient to use but they aren’t good as they can expose lungs to potentially hazardous chemicals.
Before I started researching into this I couldn’t be bothered with having to read the ingredients to determine if I had to avoid it, I just wanted to know what the best ones where so I have found some good safer to use kids sunscreens (there will be more out there but these are few anyway) that are available in New Zealand or from trusted online stores with fast NZ shipping, some are on the pricey side but I have tried to find a range. –
1. Badger kids broad spectrum spf 30 sunscreen $27.95 from Vanilla Bloom – this has a score of 1 (1 is the best score 10 is the worst score) on the EWG website.
Please note- These types of sunscreens are notoriously more difficult to rub in and leave you looking pretty pasty! It is a different look but it is so much better for us!
The EWG (environmental working group) website contains lots of useful information about sunscreens, you can find the top and worst rated sunscreens and you can also search for others that aren’t mentioned. As well as sunscreen information there is also other guides about skincare, pecdicides in produce, healthy cleaning, bug repellents, food scores and much more, it is really worth checking out!
I hope you find this information useful, its quite scary when you think about the amount of chemicals that are used in so many everyday products and what they may be doing to our bodies. I am becoming more aware and I am slowly trying to weed them out of our home and find safer alternatives. I have plans to make lots of home made products this year, ones that contain no nasties only good stuff and I will be sharing it all with you guys!