Summer is here and it’s time for some fun in the sun. But before you reach for that sunscreen, you may want to think twice. We’ve all been conditioned to slather it on. After all, it protects us from harmful sun rays and UVA and UVB damage right? And skin cancer, right? Right? Well… perhaps it’s time to reconsider the chemicals in that sunscreen you’re reaching for and whether it’s really a wise idea to use them without discretion.
Consider Oxybenzone. This chemical is widespread in the environment in the United States according to the FDA. It is detected in the bodies of nearly every American. It does not occur in nature, so how does it get there? Oxybenzone is detected in nearly every American, found in mother’s milk and acts like estrogen once in the body. It is associated with endometriosis in women and alters sperm production in animals. The FDA believes it is is absorbed through skin penetration and through mother’s milk. Oxybenzone has a relatively high rate of allergic skin reactivity, yet it is a common ingredient in skin products, like sunscreens.
Here is a list of products that contain this ingredient along with other ingredients of concern. What sunscreens have it? Are any aimed at children? The answers may surprise you.
Avoid painful sunburns which can be harmful, too. Conventional wisdom tells us that sunscreen is the way to go. But some sunscreens contain harmful ingredients themselves. Oxybenzone is detected in nearly every American, found in mother’s milk and acts like estrogen once in the body. It is associated with endometriosis in women and alters sperm production in animals. What sunscreens have it?
Anthelios 60 Shaka Ultra Light
At $18 an oz, this is easily the most expensive sunscreen on the list. That doesn’t guarantee you’ll find any protection from harmful chemicals, however. In fact, along with Oxybenzone, La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Shaka Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid in 1.7oz contains several ingredients of concern, like Octinoxate (Octylmethoxycinnamate), and Octisalate. Octinoxate is a known estrogen disruptor.
Avon’s Sunscreen, Sun +
Avon’s under pressure from the EWG to clean up their chemical act. This is not evidence that they’re paying attention. With an SPF of 25, Avon’s Sun+ Sunscreen Spray, has Oxybenzone, too. Oxybenzone is rated 8 out of a possible 10 on the Environmental Working Groups’ hazard database which lists ingredients of concern for cosmetics and personal care products. Zero is the target rating.
Blue Lizard Sport Sunscreen
Blue Lizard SPF 30+ Sport Sunscreen 3 oz has such a cool package and brand marketing that it’s hard to believe it’s ingredient list is one of the most troubling. Why? Because it’s packed with problematic ingredients like PEGs, parabens, EDTA, fragrances and castor oil among other things.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Liqud
Nearly every sunscreen product Neutrogena makes has the same formula and contains ingredients which are of concern. Here is one that contains at least three ingredients that watch dog groups have identified as problematic: Oxybenzone, Homosalate, and Octocrylene.
Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids
Think kids sunscreen products are safer? Think again. They often contain the identical ingredients that adult products contain, in the same proportions, despite evidence that childrens absorb chemicals at double, triple or higher rates then adults do. This sunscreen has Oxybenzone, Homosalate and Octocrylene, just like the versions made for Mom and Dad. Not great.
Hawaiian Tropic Shimmer SPF 20
Hawaiian Tropic products smell great. Just the scent is a harbinger of summer for a whole generation. But that scent is also a chemical brew consisting of Oxybenzone, Homosalate, and Octocrylene. And despite that yummy smell, no actual coconut. Too bad.
Hawaiin Tropic Tanning Oil SPF 10
Apparently there is precious little difference between Hawaiian Tropic Tanning Oil and Hawaiian Tropic Sunscreen. Same ingredients, just slightly lower SPF. Same chemicals too. Unfortunately.
Hawaiian Tropic Kids SPF 50`
Like other brands, Hawaiian Tropic hasn’t done much to consider the safety of children beyond higher SPF. Same chemicals as the products intended for adults. Again, unfortunately.
Summer Hat Is your best defense
Instead of questionable chemicals, your best sun defense may just be a stylish summer sunhat, like this little number from realsimple.com. No chemicals. No harmful side effects.