Can Sunscreen Actually Be Bad for You?

Let’s dig a little deeper into this subject and think twice about what we’re putting all over our face and body. 

There are two ways we can protect ourselves with sunscreen- with a mineral barrier or a chemical barrier. A mineral sunscreen is usually made with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. In chemical sunscreens, you’ll see ingredients like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate.

I feel like this is such a debatable subject these days. Dermatologists tell A LOT of people to use brands like Cetaphil and Neutrogena. (If you’re one of the many people that use Neutrogena because it’s the only thing that’s worked for your skin that’s fine- keep using it) Many people are advised to use La Roche Posay. While you all know I say this all the time, (and mean it) I do not like to step on Dermatologist’s toes. They know so much more than I do! But, I have to say, they have their default go-to’s with skincare that are “safe” for them to recommend, non-irritating. Aren’t there alternatives out there that are just as calming and gentle, but not full of harmful chemicals?

Most people don’t like to use mineral sunscreens because it usually causes one to look white. Trust me, I’m with you on this. My husband and I are pretty much see-through and do not need help in this department. But with all of the new studies out there on skin cancer and sunscreens 9 times out of 10 I suck it up and use them anyway.

I’m not going to go all crazy on you with a bunch of these studies, but I want to get some people thinking and maybe open to trying a more natural approach.

Chemical vs Mineral

Something to note about mineral sunscreens: look for labels that say “non-nano particles” as it can be harmful if nanoparticles are used because they can cross over into the body. Also, some mineral sunscreens (as some of you know with the Pink Guava I carry in my spa) use such a small amount of SPF that they don’t even disclose the amount or it’s hard to be accurate of the amount. In cases like my Pink Guava Moisturizer, I advise clients to double up. I tell them to use the lotion under their makeup that contains sunscreen.

While studies are ever changing and one week this is good for you and the next it’s bad, I still think it’s important to be informed. Did you know that studies are now saying that chemical sunscreens can actually cause cancer? Or speed up the growth of cancer cells? What about all of the spray sunscreens? Please think about how those can be harmful to your lungs. There are also different studies saying some of the chemicals found in most sunscreens are messing with hormones.

I’ll be totally honest here…I usually do not wear sunscreen on my body. Yes, I said that and I’m an aesthetician. I will if I’m going to the pool, beach, or for a long walk in 80-degree weather, but I don’t like sunscreen. I’m thankful we have it and I wear it on my face every day, but I don’t like it on my body. I’m also Vitamin D deficient like a huge percent of the population. I would rather my body take in some sun. I’m not suggesting that’s what everyone should do, but I do think everyone should give themselves at least a little Vitamin D from the sun.  While I certainly don’t have all of the answers and I am biased in this area as I like natural products, I just wanted to give you some food for thought. Many of you cannot use sunscreens at all because it causes you such bad breakouts or reactions. I’ve definitely heard that through the years.

How do I know what’s good?

Here are some sunscreens that I have either used myself or the Environmental Working Group (EWG) have reported as being safe. A lot of these you can get on Amazon, at Target, Whole Body, or Sprouts.

~Alba Botanica Mineral Sunscreen

~Badger (I’ve used this and they make a tinted version now too)

~Babyganics Sunscreen

~Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen, Sensitive

~The Honest Company Sunscreen Lotion

~Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Sunscreen Stick

~Goddess Garden ( I have my hubby using this) Be aware some contain chemicals as well

~Derma-E and MyChelle are worth looking into as well

Final thoughts

Do some research and figure out what’s right for you. Please pay attention to labels. There are unfortunately many sunscreens out there that claim to be natural or look like they only have the mineral blockers, but still add the harmful chemicals as well. (This really irritates me) Limit your time in the sun. Just because you have sunscreen on doesn’t mean you should be out baking in the sun. With or without sunscreen on my body, I definitely limit my sun exposure and head for the shade. The best way to avoid skin cancer or sun damage is to stay out of the sun when you can, and wear hats, long sleeve shirts, and glasses. Enjoy yourself, but cover up and hit the shade!

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