Are Popular Sunscreens Harming More than Helping?

For years now, we’ve be thoroughly educated on the importance of wearing sunscreen and the effects of what can happen if you don’t wear it. Additionally, we’ve all seen the numerous of commercials and ads for some of the most popular brands of sunscreen currently on the market. And with summer in full swing and Fourth of July just around the corner, I wanted to share an article I recently stumbled upon.

While relaxing on the beach last week, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and found an article that lists some of the worst sunscreens  of 2015, put together by the Environmental Working Group. As I clicked on the link and waited for the page to load, I wondered what types of things could make a sunscreen so bad. I love going to the pool and/ or the beach for the “fun in the sun” experience. I’ve previously used Banana Boat, Neutrogena, Coppertone, and Hawaiian Tropic sunscreens, all in spray form simply for convenience.

Upon reading the article, I was familiar with some of the topics in the article. First is that spray sunscreens are much less effective than lotion sunscreens. I’ve actually experienced this one first hand. Last summer, during a family trip to Hawaii, my dad and I got the worst sunburn at our first day on the beach because of a spray sunscreen. It was not good, we felt like crispy critters and didn’t want to step another foot on a beach for a while. Second was that SPF values above 50 try to trick you into believing they’ll prevent sun damage better than lower SPF values. This is a misconception because SPF protection tops out at 30 to 50.

There were also a couple things I was pretty surprised to learn. First is that oxybenzone, a common active ingredient in most sunscreens, can disrupt the hormone system. I was horrified to learn that it can get into the bloodstream and act like estrogen, triggering allergic skin reactions. The next thing I couldn’t believe was that retinyl palmitate, a common inactive ingredient in most sunscreens, may trigger damage and possibly cancer. Retinyl palmitate is a form of vitamin A and in night creams, this chemical may help skin look more youthful. However, on sun-exposed skin, retinyl palmitate may speed development of skin tumors and lesions, according to the EWG article. This was the most terrifying piece of information in the article. I couldn’t believe that one of the ingredients in sunscreen, something you apply to aid in the prevention skin cancer, can contain an ingredient that can cause cancer. It seems so backwards that the FDA could allow this.

This article has opened my eyes to all the things that go unnoticed in today’s product market. Hopefully, you take this information to heart and get on track towards living a healthier lifestyle.

Until next time,

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