Sunscreen Ingredients To Avoid

(4 minute read)

Protecting your skin from the damaging effects of the sun is important but some of the chemicals found in popular brand sunscreens come with their own set of potential risks. So it pays to know what to look out for when choosing a sunscreen - in particular, which sunscreen ingredients to avoid.

Sunscreen ingredients to avoid and why

  • oxybenzone - a suspected endocrine disruptor, i.e. it interferes with our hormones1
  • octinoxate/octylmethoxycinnamate - another endocrine disruptor that mimics oestrogen & may disrupt thyroid function2
  • homosalate - a hormone disruptor3
  • octocrylene - linked to high rates of skin allergy4
  • avobenzone - breaks down into toxic compounds when exposed to sun and water - here's the news article

What does the EWG say about sunscreen ingredients?

The following article from the EWG (Environmental Working Group) website gives a more detailed insight into commonly used sunscreen ingredients, including information on skin penetration, hormone disruption and skin allergies:


 Do you know which sunscreen ingredients to avoid? (image credit: iStock)

How can you avoid potentially harmful sunscreen ingredients?

The best way to avoid sunscreen chemicals, while still getting effective protection from sunburn and reducing the risk of skin cancer, is to use a natural sunscreen - also known as a 'physical sunscreen' or 'mineral sunscreen'.

Chemical Sunscreen versus Natural Sunscreen

There are basically two types of sunscreen: chemical sunscreen and natural sunscreen, although some can be a combination of both.

  • Chemical sunscreen contains UV absorbers - ingredients that absorb UV radiation, preventing it from penetrating into the deeper layers of your skin and causing sunburn. Unfortunately, the molecular nature of the chemicals potentially allows them to be absorbed into your bloodstream - not really what you want when tests have shown that these chemicals themselves can cause health issues. At the very least, chemical sunscreens are often the cause of rashes and skin irritations, especially for people with sensitive skin.
  • Natural sunscreen uses a mineral ingredient as the active ingredient, for example, zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. They sit on the surface of the skin and act as a physical barrier to block and deflect UVA and UVB rays - hence the name 'physical sunscreens'. Unlike chemical sunscreens, they are not designed to penetrate the skin.

Recommended natural sunscreens

Recommended tinted natural sunscreens

Recommended SPF50+ natural sunscreens

Recommended natural sunscreens for face

Protecting your face from the damaging effects of the sun on a daily basis is a good idea, both in terms of the health of your skin and from an anti-ageing viewpoint. Wearing a facial sunscreen or moisturiser with in-built sun protection every day can help protect your skin even if it's just from incidental sun exposure, e.g. driving to work, walking to the bus stop or train station, popping outside during your lunch break, hanging out the washing - you get the idea.

Technically, all of the sunscreens available at Naturally Safe Cosmetics can be used on both the body and face but here's a few options created for use on the face:

Other ways to protect your skin from the sun

Apart from applying natural sunscreen, other measures to protect your skin from sun damage include wearing protective clothing (T-shirt), wearing n appropriate hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes. Of course, you should also try to avoid sun exposure when the UV is at its highest.

Is it possible to get a safe tan?

And, finally, if you're after a tan - remember, the only safe tan is a fake tan and the best fake tan is an organic fake tan. Naturally Safe Cosmetics has quite a few options when it comes to a safe, fake tan. They're suitable for all skin types and tones. Check out our range from the likes of respected Australian brands Eco Tan , Wotnot and Aussie Bronze. These are not sunscreens - simply a great way to give your skin a gorgeous, sun-kissed glow without risking sun damage.