Conventional vs Natural Sunscreen

Woman wearing sunglasses and a hat. Summer vacation.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) just published their 2016 guide to safe sunscreens. This is their tenth annual guide where they reviewed over 750 sunscreens. They found more than 75% of the sunscreens contained toxic chemicals that can increase your risk of cancer and other health issues.

The Dangers of Conventional Sunscreens

According to research from the EWG: “many sunscreen chemicals are absorbed into the body and can be measured in blood, breast milk and urine samples. 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.

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.

Lab studies indicate that some chemical UV filters may mimic hormones or cause skin allergies, which raises important questions about unintended effects on human health from frequent sunscreen application. The most worrisome is oxybenzone, added to nearly 70 percent of the non-mineral sunscreens in EWG’s 2016 sunscreen database.”

Dangers of Chemical Filters [1]

  • Oxybenzone acts like estrogen in the body, alters sperm production in animals and is associated with endometriosis in women.
  • Octinoxate promotes hormone like activity, reproductive system, thyroid and behavioral alterations in animal studies
  • Homosolate disrupts estrogen and progesterone levels in the body

The Benefits of Natural Sunscreens

Natural sunscreens are made with minerals, which are naturally occurring elements found in the earth. Minerals are physical blockers of the sun, as they reflect and scatter UV rays. They also don’t get absorbed into the skin as the chemical filters do and therefore don’t have harmful effects on the body.

Minerals are also effective at blocking the sun as soon as they are applied, whereas it takes conventional sunscreens 20 minutes to be effective.

Before buying sunscreen, check out the guide here: EWG’s Guide to Sunscreens. My favourites on the list are Green Goddess & Kiss My Face.