Toxic Sunscreens and Natural Ways to Protect Your Skin From UV Rays

As you slather sunscreen onto your skin before heading outside for a stroll in the park or day at the beach, do you consider the chemicals and toxins hidden in the ingredients? 

While Vitamin D is good for us, it’s crucial to protect ourselves from UVA and UVB rays to prevent skin cancer and aging. But what if these products applied to our skin are just as terrible for us? And are there better, healthier sunscreen products or alternatives?

More and more countries and states (like Hawaii and Florida’s Key West) are banning the use of sunscreens. At least, countries that are full of vibrant reefs they’re trying to protect. So it makes one wonder: If these ingredients are one of the many causes of dying reef ecosystems, what are these environmental toxins doing to our bodies?

Turns out, quite a lot. New research shows that some of these chemicals are disruptive to our endocrine system and thyroids, upsetting the balance of our hormones.

Let’s discuss some of these known chemicals:

Dangerous and Toxic Sunscreen Ingredients

Oxybenzone — In routine studies, the CDC found this chemical in 96%(1) of the population. Unfortunately, this chemical is known to reduce sperm count and possibly contribute to women’s endometriosis. And pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and children should stay clear of this nasty stuff!

Now, you may come across sunscreens that tout “Oxybenzone-free!” But don’t be fooled. This just means it’s been replaced by…

Avobenzone — This chemical is used mainly for UVA protection. And because this chemical only lasts 30 minutes in the sun, many manufacturers supplement this with a longer-lasting chemical cocktail, which may include these “stabilizers”:

  • Octocrylene — The most common alongside Avobenzone, this chemical is known to cause skin irritation and acne. 
  • Homosalate — An endocrine disruptor that mimics estrogen, androgen, and progesterone.
  • Octinoxate — Another endocrine disruptor, this chemical causes thyroid issues and also mimics hormones. But it also enters into our urine, bloodstream, and even breast milk. 
  • Octisalate — Is generally not too harmful, but known to give rashes and cause skin allergies. 

Replace Chemicals for Minerals

Instead of reaching for these chemical-based sunscreens, stick to mineral-based broad-spectrum sunscreens with ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide

Acting as a physical barrier over the skin, dermatologists have found that these are the best alternatives and are even safe for children. 

Keep in mind, though, that only some broad-spectrum brands are water-resistant. Additionally, you should be mindful of the ingredients and read the labels—not all guard against UVA and UVB rays. 

This is why we recommend other alternatives to accompany the mineral-based sunscreens of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. 

More Alternatives for Guarding Against the Sun’s Rays

  • Your diet — Certain foods with healthy fats and antioxidants can provide a sort of inside out UV sun protection. If you plan to be outdoors, stick to food rich in carotenoids like dark and colorful fruits and veggies, as well as nuts, seeds, and avocados. These internal sunblockers will reduce sunburns. 
  • Clothing — White clothing especially will reflect the sun and keep you cool in the sweltering summer heat. This can be anything from a rashguard with a built-in SPF and a broad-brimmed hat. 
  • Astaxanthin — Basically sunscreen in a pill form, Astaxanthin is a super powerful carotenoid and algae-based antioxidant that protects against UV rays. (Not to mention it’s stronger than Vitamin C, E, and CoQ10.) 
  • Seed oil-based sunscreens — Carrot seed oil (~40 SPF), red raspberry seed oil (~40 SPF), and wheat germ oil (~20 SPF) all offer fairly high SPF.

Sesame oil and coconut oil do not offer SPF, but do block 30% and 20% of sunlight respectively. The downside to these oils is that you have to reapply frequently on the hour.  

Let Your Skin Radiate Naturally

Grab your shades and head outside, but be sure to consider some of these all-natural sunscreens. Avoid harsh chemicals that damage our own bodies and our environment. Instead, allow your skin to glow naturally. 

Resources:

  1. https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/the-trouble-with-sunscreen-chemicals/

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