Has the act of choosing a "safe" sunscreen for your summer fun got you scared? Confused? Overwhelmed? You are not the only one. Reports are filling our news pages alerting us to the harmful effects these lotions we have all been lathering our bodies with since the hit song “Everyone’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen)” by Baz Lurhmann hit the airwaves in 1999. Although many statements in this popular song have remained true 20 years later, the wear sunscreen opener may need to be updated to, “Only wear non-nanoparticles, endocrine system disruptor free, coral reef safe sunscreen”. Not nearly as catchy as the original lyrics. So, what are you suppose to look for in your sunscreen? What should you be concerned about?
The go-to source in this matter, and all things regarding safety and skincare is the the EWG (Environmental Working Group) yearly Sunscreen report.
Some key points from the summary:
Unsafe ingredients in (some) sunscreens: PABA, Trolamine Salicylate
Generally considered safe ingredients used in (some) sunscreens: Titannium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide
Not know if safe of unsafe ingredients (insufficient data) used in sunscreen: Avonbenzone, Homosalate, Octinoxate, Octisalate, Octocrylene, Oxybenzone, Cinoxate, Dioxybenzone, Ensulizole, Meradimate, Padimate o, Sulisobenzone,
Use non-nanoparticle sunscreens- these will be less likely to be absorbed into your bloodstream.
For those that are environmentally concerned:
In 2018 Hawaii banned the use of certain sunscreens containing ingredients suspected in harming the coral reefs specifically and the environment as a whole.
Avoid sunscreens containing petrolatum, commonly known as mineral oil, which takes years to biodegrade, and are known to be harmful or fatal to aquatic life and waterfowl.
Avoid sunscreens with high content of Titanium Dioxide. This mineral does not biodegrade and is found to react in warm seawater to form hydrogen peroxide which is harmful to all sea life.
Oxybenzone and octinoxate, the two chemicals recently banned in Hawaii and are believed to cause coral bleaching.
Negatively Rated- Most Toxic Sunscreens by EWG 2019 report: