Sunscreen isn’t exactly cheap, so you might be tempted to buy the store brand on sale and toss it in your beach bag, but you should stop to think twice. Your skin is your body’s largest organ and it covers nearly every inch of your body. Do you really want to slather any old combination of ingredients all over yourself and assume it won’t do you harm? Because the frightening fact is, many trusted sunscreen brands and their generic counterparts are full of toxic chemicals that can have a major impact on the body.
Since the FDA does not regulate cosmetics with the same stringency used on pharmaceuticals, it’s very easy for cosmetic companies to take the easy way out with dangerous chemicals that make their products cheaper to produce but more damaging to customers. This doesn’t mean you can’t use sunscreen at all, it simply means that you need to look carefully at the ingredients list before adding anything to your cart. Here’s what you should look for.
Buy Mineral-Based Sunscreen
Look for sunscreens made from zinc oxide, which is the safest active ingredient available in stores. If the zinc oxide level is above 18 percent, then you are using a sunscreen that won’t break down in the sun, enter the bloodstream, and disrupt your body. The ingredients in non-mineral sunscreens like oxybenzone quickly break down and penetrate the skin, enter the bloodstream, and disrupt hormone channels. It’s believed that this is leading to unwanted side effects in children, especially relating to puberty.
Stay Away from Spray
Spray sunscreens have become very popular recently because they make application so much easier, but they are bad news! The inhalation risks are still being researched, and even the FDA is showing concern because these forms contain extra chemicals in order to become a spray. Since sunscreen is formulated for the skin and not the lungs, spray forms can have major respiratory impacts.
A few other words of wisdom: avoid SPF over 50, since they aren’t regulated, and opt away from sunscreens with fragrances since they are often petroleum-based and linked to high toxicity. With these smart choices in mind, your sunscreen will not pose a threat to your health.