In a positive turn of events, the Food and Drug Administration has recently released a ‘rule’ to declare mineral sunscreen ingredients as safe, specifically zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. The FDA said 12 other chemicals used in common sunscreens need more research to determine if they can be officially listed as safe. If these chemicals are deemed unsafe by the FDA, our U.S. regulations will be more in line with European rules about sunscreen, which would ban about 90% of the sunscreen products available here.
The EWG assessed over 13,000 SPF products and found that two-thirds contain potentially toxic ingredients or offer inferior protection. 84% of the over 800 sunscreens the EWG studied did not pass health and environmental testing. Many contained potentially harmful chemicals like oxybenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate, which are known to copy naturally occurring bodily hormones, throwing the body’s systems off balance. Some sunscreens also contained Padimate-0 and parsol 1789 (also known as avobenzone), which are linked to DNA damage when exposed to sunlight. The EWG also discovered that over half of the sunscreens available in the U.S. are potentially lying about their product claims on longevity, water resistance, and UV protection.
Two of the twelve chemicals being called into question include oxybenzone and octinoxate, which many of us have known for years to be unsafe and actually dangerous to our bodies and the environment. There have been people championing the fight against these chemicals for over a decade now. However, a recent study has found that the chemicals in sunscreen can be absorbed not only into the skin, but through to the bloodstream. The most common of these two sunscreen chemicals, oxybenzone, was found in 96% of the population by a recent study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This is especially alarming since oxybenzone is considered an endocrine disruptor, can reduce sperm count in men, and may contribute to endometriosis in women. It’s scary to think that it is being rubbed on anyone’s body, especially a body belonging to a baby, toddler, child, or pregnant/breastfeeding woman.
These hormone disruptors, toxins, carcinogens, and preservatives can negatively impact people, corals, aquatic, and marine life. In fact, they are so dangerous to our ocean life that Hawaii passed a ban on sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate that goes into effect in 2021. Do you know what is frustrating though? The FDA is allowing these chemicals to still be available until more research has been performed. Instead of recalling these sunscreens and taking them from the shelves, they will still be sold to the masses for pennies.
Sunscreen use has risen in the past decade, as people are trying to protect themselves against sunburns and skin cancer. While usage is on the rise, so are skin cancer rates. These new reports are presenting the probable link between the two. Sunscreen increases risk of overexposure to the UV rays produced by the sun. Ultraviolet radiation is made up of 90% Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays that are not absorbed by the ozone layer and penetrate deep into our skin – and Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, which are partially absorbed by the ozone layer and stick to the top layers of our skin, causing sunburns. Both types of UV rays are thought to cause skin cancer. Most sunscreens claim to block some UVB radiation, but many don’t screen UVA rays at all.
A 2019 study has verified that “mineral-based skincare products provide environmental protection, are ecologically safe, and can replace chemical-based sunscreen ingredients.” The EWG has recognized only two ingredients as being adequately tested for safety and efficacy: zinc oxide and titanium oxide. It is vital to choose a mineral-based sunscreen when applying to yourself or your family.
Best Mineral Sunscreens According to EWG:
- Badger Mineral Sunscreen
- Babyganics Sunscreen
- All Terrain KidSport SPF30 Oxybenzone-Free Natural Sunscreen
- Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen
- Bull Frog Sunscreen
- Burt’s Bees Sunscreen Stick
- California Baby Hypoallergenic Sunscreen
- JASON Mineral Sunscreen
- Naked Turtle Mineral Sunscreen with Aloe
- Sunology Natural Sunscreen
- Raw Elements Sunscreen
- The Honest Company Sunscreen
- Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen
Something to consider:
Even though mineral-based sunscreens are safe to use, they (as well as chemical-based versions) prevent Vitamin D production, especially when used daily. I have previously discussed the importance of Vitamin D, and you understand the need for your body to naturally produce it. By creating a barrier, you prevent the one true benefit that the sun’s rays provide. This is one of the reasons our society has become completely deficient of Vitamin D, which in turn increases the risk of the most common cancers today. It can then be said that we are utilizing sunscreen in hopes of preventing one type cancer, while we are increasing our risks of developing numerous other types of cancer.
Perhaps instead of avoiding sun without being slathered in sunscreen, we should concentrate on non-burning sun exposure, granting us the benefits of the sun without the cancer risks. This can be done by being “sun smart” with our clothing, time of day exposed, consuming an anti-inflammatory diet, and staying in the shade.