The Chemicals In YOUR Sunscreen Could Be Harming Your Health And The Health Of Your Children

The Dangers of Sunscreen

With summer in full swing, I’m sure most of you are enjoying some much needed time outdoors.

Dangers of Toxic SunscreenIntending to protect yourself from sunburn and skin cancer, many of you slather up with sunscreen before heading outside. Although your intentions are good, what you may not know is that the very thing that is meant to protect you, may be causing you harm.

A Chemical Cocktail

Most people who use sunscreen have never questioned its safety. We are taught that sunscreen prevents wrinkles and skin cancer and we should never dare to step outside without it. Mom’s rub their children down and continue to reapply for fear that they might get some of the sun’s “terrible” rays. Sadly, the very ingredients in the sunscreen meant to prevent cancer are more cancer causing than the sun itself.

Research has shown that the chemicals in sunscreens meant to protect us from UVA and UVB rays are causing major free radical damage. This free radical damage leads to cellular damage within your DNA and skin cells, which can very easily lead to cancer.

But, that’s not all. Many of these chemicals have estrogenic properties. Once these chemicals are absorbed into the skin and into the bloodstream, it’s estrogen-like effects can wreak havoc on your hormones and endrocrine system. Estrogenic chemicals can interfere with normal sexual development, lower sperm count, cause birth defects, and increase the risk of cancer – just to name a few.

Here are the chemicals to look out for in your sunscreen:

  • Sunscreen ChemicalsBenzophenones (Dixoybenzone,oxybenzone)
  • PABA and PABA esters (ethyl dihydroxy propyl PAB, glyceryl PABA, p-aminobenzoic acid, padimate-O or octyl dimethyl PABA)
  • Cinnamates (cinoxate, ethylhexyl p-methoxycinnamate, octocrylene, octyl methoxycinnamate)
  • Salicylates (ethylhexyl salicylate, homosalate, octyl salicylate)
  • Menthyl anthranilate

Safe Sunscreen

Luckily, there are now safe non-toxic sunscreens on the market. They are a bit harder to find, but most health food stores will carry them or they are available online. The ingredients you want to look for in a safe sunscreen are:

  • Titanium Dioxide
  • Zinc Oxide

These minerals work by deflecting UVA and UVB rays, whereas the chemical sunscreens “work” by absorbing them. They do not cause free radical damage and do not penetrate the skin.

Most safe sunscreens will specify “mineral based” on the label.  Many so called “natural” sunscreens still contain chemicals, so be sure and read the ingredients.  A great reputable website that lists brands of the worst and best sunscreen is

Healthy Sun Exposure

Even with the availability of safe sunscreen, proper sun exposure is still necessary. The sun causes our body to produce Vitamin D, which is an essential vitamin important for bone strength and many other health needs. Just 30 minutes a day of sun exposure produces a whopping 25,000 IU of Vitamin D!

Tips on proper sun exposure:

  • Safe SunscreenIf you have fair skin, gradually build your time up in the sun.  Start with 5-10 minutes a day until you can be out 20-30 minutes without getting burned.
  • Once you’re satisfied with your exposure, cover up with light cotton clothing and some sort of brimmed sun hat.
  • If you are spending an extended amount of time outdoors, use a mineral based sunscreen.

Vitamin D is one of the healthiest things you can give your body and it has been shown to prevent cancer, not cause it.  So, don’t slather on the sunscreen right away. Get your daily dose of D first.

P.S. The same concern about sun safety for the skin can be applied to the lips. Most lip cancers develop on the bottom lip where sun strikes most directly. Look for broad-spectrum sun protection lip balms with the fewest ingredients that raise concerns when they’re swallowed. In addition to choosing a good lip balm, follow our sun safety tips to protect your skin for a lifetime.


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