For years we have been told to apply sunscreen before going out in the sun and we have listened. And sunscreen manufacturers have been paying attention, coming up with all kinds of products ranging from waterproof, spray-on, greaseless and hypo-allergenic just to name a few. But are sunscreens really safe? Are they really better than they used to be? After agonizing over the right one in the pharmacy aisle, are you sure your sunscreen is all it claims to be?
Unfortunately, finding a sunscreen that won’t do more harm than good isn’t always easy. To help us along, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) issued its 5th annual guide to sunscreen products and the results are pretty astonishing: just one in five of more than 600 beach and sports sunscreens made the cut.
Of particular concern were sunscreen sprays. They were marketed as being safe and easy to apply but they could have serious health risks since chemicals in the sprays can be inhaled and have damaging effects.
Sunscreens with a form of vitamin A called retinyl palmitate should also be avoided, as there are concerns about it producing skin lesions when exposed to sun. Ironic that a product used to protect against skin cancer has been linked to producing skins lesions. Oxybenzone is another ingredient to be avoided since it is a hormone disrupter and it can interfere with hormone receptors in our bodies.
Unfortunately, the list doesn’t end there. Many of the ingredients found in common sunscreens pose health risks.
So what do you do? If you go out without sunscreen, you feel like you are putting yourself at risk for skin cancer. But if you apply the popular sunscreens on the market today, you may be putting yourself at risk for other types of cancers or health concerns.
Fortunately, there are some alternatives. Some companies are now introducing safer sunscreens made from plants and minerals and without chemical additives. When looking for a safe sunscreen, look for ingredients like zinc or titanium as the active ingredients. These ingredients are the most stable while providing protection from the sun. Although these sunscreens are not always as easy to apply, and can sometimes leave a residue, at least you know you are actually protecting yourself and not taking additional risks. To get more information on sunscreen safety and to find the names of safe brands for you and your family click here to see the Environmental Working Groups safe ratings list.