Is Your Sunscreen Doing More Harm Than Good?

With summer here, it's time to think about how we treat the outside of our bodies, not just the inside. Skin is the largest organ in the body and will absorb whatever we put on it.  We've been told over and over that pesticides, herbicides, growth hormones and antibiotics are all toxic to the body and the mainstream sunscreens we all grew up using are loaded with chemicals.

Sunscreen is supposed to protect us from harmful UV radiation from the sun, but as more people use sunscreen, skin cancer incidences continue to increase. This fact alone has to make you wonder if sunscreen really provides skin cancer protection or if the chemicals in them are  actually contributing to causing skin cancer? Some studies have shown that sunscreens do in fact protect us from some types of skin cancers but other studies show that sunscreens have actually contributed to the risk of some of the worst forms of skin cancer. Despite the evidence going back and fourth about sunscreen, for me personally, I wouldn't eat toxic chemicals so why would I allow them on my skin? 

With all the hundreds of sunscreen products available today it can be confusing to know what to look for.

Below is a list of safe sunscreens

  • Badger
  • Seventh Generation
  • Think Sport
  • John Masters
  • Aubrey
  • Raw Elements
  • Sunology

How to pick a safe sunscreen

  • Look for titanium dioxide and zinc oxide based mineral sunscreens, which do not penetrate the skin and provide UVA protection against the sun’s most damaging rays.
  • Choose non-nano products that do not have small particles that can absorb into skin.
  • Choose sunscreens that are unscented or use essential oils as fragrance.
  • Pick lotion based sunscreens with water resistance vs spray or aerosol.
  • Pick broad spectrum sunscreens that protect against UVA and UVB rays.
  • Choose sunscreen products that are rated 0-2 in the Environmental Working Group’s Sunscreen Guide

What to watch out for with unsafe sunscreens

Oxybenzone - this is a hormone disrupting chemical which penetrates the skin and enters the bloodstream. It is the most popular ingredient in chemical based sunscreens and only blocks UVB ray (sun’s good rays that provide vitamin D production), not UVA which are the most free radical damaging rays.  Avoid any sunscreen that has this chemical at all costs, especially for children.
Vitamin A (Retinyl Palmitate) – A 2009 study by U.S. government scientists released by the National Toxicology Program found when this is applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight, it may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions.


Sure it may make the product smell nice, but this is a petroleum based product that is linked to organ toxicity and allergies.

High SPF

The FDA does not regulate SPF higher than 50 and there’s no scientific proof they work better than lower SPF. Many of the higher SPFs do not provide any additional protection and studies have suggested that users are exposed to as many or more ultraviolet rays as those who use lower-SPF products.

Sprays or Powders

Generally speaking, sprays and powders have additional chemicals added to them for performance purposes. These additional chemicals are usually not something you want to be spraying on your body and can be toxic to the lungs. Besides, remember sunscreen is formulated for your skin, not your lungs. Many of the side effects of sprays and powders on the lungs are not tested before being approved.

Popular Conventional Brands

Aveeno, Banana Boat, Coppertone Sport, Coppertone, Bull Frog, Neutragena, Storebrands (CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens), Hawaiian Tropic and many other popular brands are rated the worst in terms of safety in the Environmental Working Group’s Sunscreen Guide.