I feel like I’m always quoting the same fact, but it is true that we absorb up to 60% of what we put on our skin. And that means it goes into our bodies, and sometimes the ingredients of products can have a lasting, damaging effect.
So, because we are basically living in the costa del Ireland at the moment, which has been A MAY ZING!! I have been getting a few questions about the danger of sunscreen and the benefits of maybe choosing a natural alternative!
The active ingredients in sunscreen can be mineral based or chemical based, chemical based means it has the potential to enter the blood stream (which makes me shudder even writing that). Mineral sunscreens contain things like zinc oxide (non-nano) and titanium dioxide and they create a physical barrier to protect the skin from the sun. You know when you see cricket players or surfers with their noses covered with a thick layer of “cream” – usually zinc oxide! It physically blocks/diverts the rays of the sun.
Chemical sunscreens do as they say on the tin, they use chemicals. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) say chemicals in sunscreen can be classified as endocrine disruptors, estrogenic and can interfere with thyroid and other hormone processes.
But we are lucky we live in Europe, as we have the Scientific Committee on Consumers Safety (SCCS) which provides recommendations on the safety of cosmetic products. As sunscreen is something that comes into contact with our skin it is considered a “cosmetic product” and falls under the SCCS. The committee makes some guidelines in relation to the standard of sunscreen and the UVA and UVB protection including the minimum allowed = SPF6, UVA protection must be 1/3 of UVB (Pirotta G, 2015) .
We now have good access to mineral sunscreen which protects against UVA and UVB and in the most do not penetrate the skin barrier or act as hormone disruptors. In the US they are still waiting for some of these less toxic options to be regulated and made available…. insert eye roll here!
I think what most people are concerned about is an ingredient called oxybenzone. Oxybenzone is one of the most common ingredients in chemical sunscreen available in the US – pretty worrying when it has been linked to hormone disruption and mentioned in links to endometriosis in women. Oxybenzone is one of the reasons you see warnings against children or pregnant breastfeeding women using sunscreens with it as an ingredient!
Overall, in my opinion, there are some great natural mineral based sunscreens out there and they really do work! Some don’t have it just right yet, they are very heavy in the physical barrier element and can be difficult to rub in and can leave that pasty look, others can split meaning the oil-based element comes apart from the other ingredients so make sure to give the tube a good shake before dispensing! Regular reapplication is also very important.
So, if it is a possible option for you then maybe give one a go! All sunscreen serves a purpose, a very important purpose, but sometimes we should really be aware of the consequences of that purpose. Asking questions like will It cross the skin barrier? Will it have hormone disrupting properties etc, are sometimes genuinely worth asking.
Hope this helps a little,
Be Kind to Yourself, Be Peachy! X