Dr. Lauren’s Guide To Safe Sunscreen
Updated: Feb 7
It’s the height of summer and with that comes beach days and pool days so it’s important to talk about skin safety and sun safety. But which sunscreen is best for you and your family?
The purpose of sunscreen is to filter out the harmful rays from the sun called UVA and UVB. It was found back in the 1970’s, that harmful effects on the immune system could occur with UV exposure. Interestingly enough, studies also found that the immune protection of sunscreens was not correlated to their SPF (sun protection factor) or the protection from UVB rays, but to the UVA protection!
So it’s really important to look for UVA protection in your sunscreen to safeguard the health of your immune system.
Sunscreen products then use either chemical or mineral filters to protect the skin from these harmful UV rays. Unfortunately, a lot of sunscreen products use health damaging chemicals in their formulas.
The 6 main chemicals in most sunscreens are oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and avobenzone (say that 6 times fast) and the big problem is that they are all systemically absorbed into the body after a single use . (Matta 2019, Matta 2020). It was also found that these sunscreen ingredients could be detected on the skin and in blood weeks after application ended. To top it all off, another troubling concern is that these ingredients also tend to be hormone disruptors. This means they can can cause disruptions in hormone status and cause negative effects on estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and thyroid hormones.
So instead, look for a mineral based sunscreen with either Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide as it main ingredient. These mineral based sunscreens with filter both UVA and UVB and have no known hormone disruption. They tend to heave less skin allergy reactions and are generally recognized as safe and effective.
So I challenge you to flip over your sunscreen and see what’s inside. Another awesome tool that you can use is from ewg.com
It’s a great resource to look up your current sunscreen and see its safety rating.
So wear your mineral sunscreen and think about adding in other sun safety tips:
Cover up with loose cool clothing and wear a hat and sunglasses
Seek out shade to enjoy the afternoon
Plan your walks and activities around the sun. Try going out in the early morning or later afternoon when the UV is less intense.