Sunscreen Ingredients To Avoid

(3 1/2 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 risks. So it pays to know what to look out for when choosing a sunscreen.

Chemical Sunscreen Vs Natural Sunscreen

There are basically two types of sunscreen: chemical sunscreen and natural sunscreen. Natural sunscreen is also sometimes referred to as physical or mineral sunscreen.

Chemical sunscreens contain UV absorbers - they 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 a good thing when tests have shown these chemicals themselves can cause health issues. Chemical sunscreens are often the cause of rashes and skin irritations, especially for people with sensitive skin - this has certainly been my own experience.

Physical sunscreens use a mineral ingredient as the active ingredient, for example, zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These natural sunscreens sit on the surface of the skin and act as a barrier to block and deflect UVA and UVB rays - they are not designed to penetrate the skin.

What to avoid in sunscreen

  1. oxybenzone - suspected endocrine disruptor: interferes with our hormones1
  2. octinoxate/octylmethoxycinnamate - another endocrine disruptor that mimics oestrogen & may disrupt thyroid function2
  3. homosalate - hormone disruptor3
  4. octocrylene - high rates of skin allergy4
  5. avobenzone - breaks down into toxic compounds when exposed to sun and water - here's the news article

The Trouble With Ingredients in Sunscreens according to the EWG

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:



Some sunscreen ingredients are best avoided (image credit: iStock)

How do you avoid chemical 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.

Recommended Natural Sunscreens:

Best Tinted Sunscreens:

Best 50+ Sunscreens:

Best sunscreens for use on the 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 when you're, say, driving to work, walking outside during your lunch break, hanging out the washing, etc.

All of our sunscreens can be used on both the body and face but, when it comes to the face, we especially like:

Don't forget to always take the usual sun care precautions

When spending time in the sun, always follow the usual measures to protect your skin: apply your natural sunscreen (and re-apply as necessary, e.g. after a couple of hours, swimming, exercising or sweating), wear appropriate protective clothing (T-shirt), plus a hat and don't forget to protect your eyes with sunglasses. Also, try to avoid sun exposure when the UV is at its highest.

Can you 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 get gorgeous colour without risking sun damage.