What You Should Know About Sunscreen

There are alternatives to sunscreen that may be more effective.

Sunscreen is important.

But there are recommended alternatives to sunscreen that may be more effective and less harmful.

We slather sunscreen on every morning before leaving the house, just like you do. But sunscreen is only effective if applied generously and reapplied (generously) every 1-2 hours.

Even if you are meticulous about applying and reapplying sunscreen (and who is?) you may be doing more harm than you know.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization in Washington D.C. dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. The EWG investigated sunscreens and has determined that sunscreens may pose hazards to human health. The EWG also recommends alternatives to sunscreen that may be less harmful.

According to EWG, sunscreen is important but shouldn’t be your only method of sun protection.

EWG suggests that the best line of defense against harmful UV radiation is to wear protective clothing, find or create shade (Get Your Persolé Now), and be conscious of sun strength at various times of day.

The following are excerpts from EWG reports on sunscreen:

Active ingredients in sunscreens come in two forms, mineral and chemical filters. Each uses a different mechanism for protecting skin and maintaining stability in sunlight. Each may pose hazards to human health.

  • The most common sunscreens on the market contain chemical filters. These products typically include a combination of two to six of these active ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. Mineral sunscreens use zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. A handful of products combine zinc oxide with chemical filters.
  • Laboratory studies of several sunscreen chemicals indicate that they may mimic hormones and disrupt the hormone system.
  • Some research on animals suggests that oxybenzone and other sunscreen chemicals can be toxic to reproductive systems or interfere with normal development. Another sunscreen chemical, 4-methylbenzidyl camphor, used in Europe and under petition for use in the United States is also a hormone disruptor.
  • Experts caution that the unintentional exposure to and toxicity of active ingredients erodes the benefits of sunscreens. Most conclude that more sensitive tests are needed to determine whether sunscreen chemicals ingredients pose risks to sunscreen users. Generally, chemical sunscreens deserve special scrutiny because most are known to permeate the skin to some degree.
  • The most problematic of the sunscreen chemicals used in the U.S. is oxybenzone, found in nearly every chemical sunscreen. EWG recommends that consumers avoid this chemical because it can penetrate the skin, cause allergic skin reactions and may disrupt hormones.
  • Preliminary investigations of human populations suggest a link between higher concentrations of oxybenzone and its metabolites in the body and increased risk of endometriosis and lower birthweight in daughters.

For more details and research citations, visit the  EWG site at http://www.ewg.org/2014sunscreen/the-trouble-with-sunscreen-chemicals/

Medical Disclaimer: The information and recommendations contained on this site are for educational purposes and are not intended as substitutes for professional medical diagnosis or treatment. Seek the advice of a qualified health provider for any medical conditions or advice.


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