The Best Sunscreen May NOT be 'The One I'll Actually Use'

I saw someone post a while back that the best type of sunscreen is one that they will actually use. Made perfect sense at the time. (They were referring to why they still use some of those terrible aerosol spray sunscreens, which haven't been proven safe.) But, as I researched sunscreens and ingredients more in depth, I realized how wrong that statement was.

Here's why:

Sunscreens are not all created equal and many are often hiding behind false claims. The one that may be easiest to use may not actually be keeping your family safe or protected from the sun. Many sunscreens are NOT actually blocking those dangerous UVA & UVB rays at all. These chemical-based sunscreens contain chemical ingredients to simply prevent a burn. As consumers, we mistakenly believe we are being protected...because, well, "No burn, no problem, right? Wrong."


What you apply to your skin can affect your health because those ingredients can enter your body. Those products that you put on your skin that don't have safety data...yeah, you are basically agreeing to be a lab rat. (And if you don't think that what you put on your body could actually penetrate the skin...think about this...Why do you think the Nicorette patch works….what you put on your skin is absorbed into your body.)

So what should you do?

Sunscreen is important...really important to protecting you against cancer. Just make sure the sunscreen you choose doesn’t have ingredients that are linked to cancer...the disease we are all trying to prevent in the first place.

What should you look for in a Sunscreen?

  • Look for sunscreens that are “non-nano” (that don’t use nanoparticles), which have tiny particles that can absorb into your skin and have virtually no safety data on them.

  • Look for Zinc Oxide based sunscreens.

  • NO Fragrance. Run...if the word Fragrance is listed in any of your products, throw it in the nearest trash can.

  • No Retinyl Palmitate. Mixing Retinyl & the sun is NOT a good thing.

  • No super high SPF.

  • No Oxybenzone and Other Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

What is all this talk of Nanoparticles?

This is the best explanation I have come across. Article can be found here.

“Many products proudly boast their use of nanotechnology on labels and unsurprisingly so: The terms sound scientific and impressive. But here’s the rub: There’s virtually no safety data on the use of these infinitesimally small particles, but some studies indicate that they are absorbed into the blood stream and may pass right through cell walls. So why are companies employing nanotechnology in the formulas used our skin? They may be relying on these microscopic particles for their assumed ability to speed up product penetration into skin—for example, many sunscreens contain nanoparticle zinc oxide in order to prevent a white film from forming. (Scarily enough, some studies have shown that exposure to light may potentially make nanoparticles toxic, meaning those who are slathering on nanoparticle zinc oxide sunscreen may be further putting themselves in harm’s way.)

These microscopic particles are one billionth of a meter. Hard to imagine something so tiny, isn’t it? To put this in perspective, a sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick. The use of nanotechnology in personal care products are grossly understudied. As stated in EWG’s study on nanoparticles, “safety cannot be substantiated in the absence of data.” In fact, the European Union’s Scientific Committee on cosmetics denied the use of micronized zinc oxide as a sunscreen in 2003, due to the lack of data on skin absorption and inhalation. We simply don’t know if they harmful; we could find out later that they are linked to cancer or hormone disruption."

Why would I not want the highest SPF possible?

Here is a great article from EWG, "What's Wrong with High SPF?"

A quick summary...

“High-SPF products may have greater risks to health – High SPF products require higher concentrations of sun-filtering chemicals than low SPF sunscreens. Some of these ingredients may pose health risks when they penetrate the skin, where they have been linked to tissue damage and potential hormone disruption. Some may trigger allergic skin reactions.

If studies showed that high SPF products were better at reducing skin damage and skin cancer risk, that extra chemical exposure might be justified. But they don’t, so choosing sunscreens with lower concentrations of active ingredients – SPF 30 instead of SPF 70, for example – is prudent. ... The FDA has long contended that SPF higher than 50 is “inherently misleading” (FDA 2007). Australian authorities cap SPF values at 30…”

Now what? What sunscreens are safer?

Check out this video for some safer sunscreen options!