How Safe is Your Sunblock?

As a child, you figured your mom was paranoid. Every time you went outside in the summer, she slathered your skin with that smelly white stuff. As you got to be a teenager, perhaps you favored vanity over safety. You may have spent hours lounging in the sun without a care. You craved that toasted brown look that paired so well with your neon shorts.

Is your sunblock really all it's cracked up to be? Check out these harmful ingredients to avoid when choosing sun protection.

How about now? At the first sign of a wrinkle or a dark brown spot on your skin, you may have realized that your mother right after all. You may be even more fastidious about applying sunblock as you hear about friends who have had skin cancer, and you hope that your sunblock is doing all it can to protect you.

Is your sunblock really all it’s cracked up to be?

Shining the Light of Truth on Your Sunblock

While you might be concerned about what your sunblock is keeping out, you should also be concerned about what your sunblock is letting in. Your skin is your largest organ. It drinks in whatever you apply to it, including toxic compounds.

More than 80,000 sunblock and sunscreen products are on the market. How do you choose one that’s helpful and not harmful?

Let’s take a look at some common ingredients to avoid in your sunblock.

Vitamin A (Retinyl Palmitate)

You may not think of vitamin A as being harmful. However, when it’s applied directly to the skin and exposed to sunlight, it may actually speed up the growth of skin tumors.

Oxybenzone

This common ingredient is a hormone disruptor when it enters your bloodstream, as it will certainly do when applied to your skin. Additionally, it blocks only UVB rays, the kind that help you absorb vitamin D from the sun, and not the harmful UVA rays.

Fragrance

It may smell like summer to you, but the fragrance in sunblock is harmful. It is generally petroleum-based and filled with chemicals. If you don’t want those chemicals in your bloodstream (and we know you don’t), then stay away from any sunblock that lists fragrance as an ingredient.

What to Look for in a Sunblock

When you avoid the above ingredients, you’ve already narrowed down your choices quite a bit. Here are a few ingredients to look for when you go shopping for sunblock.

Mineral-Based Sunblocks

Sunblocks that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are your best bet. They provide protection from harmful rays and don’t release harmful ingredients into your bloodstream.

Fragrance-Free or Essential Oils

If you must have a fragrance in your sunblock, go for one that contains natural essential oils. Otherwise, skip the smelly stuff altogether.

Pre-approved Sunblocks

The Environmental Working Group has released its guide for the safest sunblocks. Check it out before you hit the drugstore.

Remember that getting a certain amount of sunlight each day is necessary for your health. It promotes production of vitamin D, an anti-inflammatory hormone necessary for good health. So you don’t want to ban the sun from your life. However, when you do need protection from intense exposure to the sun, make sure you choose something that is good for you and your family!

You don’t want to stop at just sunblock, though! What you put on your skin 365 days a year has a profound bearing on your health. Have you ever wondered what’s really in that miracle wrinkle cream and what it’s doing to your body? Check out our slide presentation: The Ugly Truth About Beauty Products to learn all about what your skin is really eating!