There are two main types of sunscreen: chemical sunscreens and physical sunscreens. Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing ultraviolet (UV) radiation and converting it into heat, while physical sunscreens work by reflecting or blocking UV radiation. Both types are effective at protecting against UV damage, but chemical sunscreens have come under scrutiny in recent years for their potential health risks.
These active ingredients in chemical sunscreen can be problematic for a number of reasons. Oxybenzone and octinoxate are both endocrine disruptors, meaning they can interfere with the body's hormone production. Octisalate, octocrylene and avobenzone are all photo-sensitizers, meaning they can increase the skin's sensitivity to sunlight. And finally, homosalate has been shown to disrupt the body's natural production of vitamin D.
Oxybenzone is an endocrine disruptor, meaning it can interfere with the body's hormone production. It's been shown to mimic the hormone estrogen in the body and can also act as The UV radiation before it can damage the skin.
Homosalate is a UV filter that absorbs UV radiation. It has been shown to disrupt the body's natural production of vitamin D and may also act as an endocrine disruptor, meaning it can interfere with the body's hormone production.
The proposed concentration limit of 2.2 percent for oxybenzone and 1.4 percent for homosalate is based on the fact that these ingredients are not safe in the current amounts used.
U.S. sunscreen manufacturers are legally allowed to use these two chemicals at concentrations up to 6 and 15 percent, respectively, and hundreds of sunscreens manufactured in the U.S. use them at concentrations that far exceed the European Commission's recommendations. These ingredients are all systemically absorbed into the body after one use according to studies published by the FDA, (Matta 2019, Matta 2020), according to studies published by the FDA, which also found that they could be detected on the skin and in the blood weeks after no longer being used (Matta 2020). Previous studies detected many sunscreen ingredients in breast milk and urine samples (Schlumpf 2008, Schlumpf 2010). In addition, it's possible for sunscreen users to inhale ingredients in sunscreen sprays and ingest some of the ingredients they apply to their lips, so the ingredients must not be harmful to the lungs or internal organs.
Safe Alternatives- Physical sunscreen
Physical sunscreens work by reflecting or blocking UV radiation. They are typically made with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which are both effective at protecting against UV damage. However, physical sunscreens can be difficult to apply evenly and can leave a whitish cast on the skin. They also need to be reapplied more frequently than chemical sunscreens. But overall, physical sunscreens are considered to be more safe and effective than chemical sunscreens. So, if you're looking for a sunscreen that will protect you from UV damage without any potential health risks, a physical sunscreen is your best bet.
So, what's the bottom line? When it comes to sunscreen, be choosy about the ingredients and don't overdo it. Your health—and the health of the planet—will thank you.