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The dangers of Sunscreen

I have been waiting to do this post for a while now!  Sunscreen is quickly becoming a very controversial subject that is worth discussing.  Facts aside, I HATE sunscreen.  I hate the smell, I hate how it burns my skin and I always was confused about those SPF numbers.  When it started becoming clear there were “iffy” ingredients in sunscreens, I started looking for possible alternatives.  This post will clear up the confusion an provide the info. you need to move safely forward into SUMMER!!!

Ok, so you know me by now-I wouldn’t be doing a post on a product if it didn’t really suck-No, just kidding-there are products I plan to tell you about in the near future that I absolutely love, but so far I’ve been the bearer of bad news for a lot of our beauty necessities.  Sunscreen is no exception.  In fact, I hate sunscreen so much that I have not worn a chemical sunscreen for over 5 years now!  The rate of skin cancer continues to rise while the sunscreen industries worth has sky rocketed into the billions-something is not right with this picture!  Sunscreens are meant to prevent skin cancer!!

First, let’s address how beneficial sunshine is for you.  20 minutes a day of sun is a healthy habit.  Blocking the sun in those 20 minutes is not necessary for most of us.

Benefits of Vitamin D

  • Helps fight off infections like colds and the flu
  • Fights depression, aches and pains and fatigue.  Helps you produce serotonin-the “happy hormone”.
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Actually helps you lose weight-Low vitamin D triggers a hormone which makes you never feel full, interesting huh?!

Dangerous Ingredients in Most Sunscreens-

  • Oxybenzone  This is the most common ingredient in sunscreen.  It causes hormone issues including acting similar to estrogen and reducing sperm count.
  • Homosalate – Messes with hormone production
  • Octocrylene – Causes skin allergies.
  • Avobenzone – Linked to cancer
  • Octisalate – Environmental toxin
  • Vitamin A also known as Retinyl Palmitate. Linked to cancer
  • Fragrance can cause skin sensitivities and allergies as well as hormone disruptions.
  • Spray sunscreens are full of extra chemicals that have to be added in order to create this consistency and coverage.  Sprays easily can be inhaled, causing dangerous side effects in the lungs.

As you can see, many sunscreens can cause major hormonal issues.  You might be aware that drinking regular cow’s milk can cause little kids to hit puberty sooner then what is natural?  Well, this is the same deal.

Good to know….

*The Environmental Working Group’s Sunscreen Guide is a great resource if you are questioning a particular brand of sunscreen.  You want your product to score between a 0-2.

*There are 2 types of rays UVA and UVB.  UVA cause premature aging by producing free radicals in the skin.  UVB cause your skin to burn.

*The FDA does not regulate SPF higher than 50.  As far as I know, there is no proof that sunscreens higher than 50 are more effective.

*There are 2 types of sunscreens, mineral and chemical.  Mineral means it contains Titanium Dioxide and/or Zinc Oxide.  These minerals are used in mineral make up (mineral make up recipe HERE) and actually sit on top of the skin without being absorbed.  They reflect UVA and UVB rays.  Chemical sunscreens penetrate the skin and help dissipate the rays.

*Using as little as 15 SPF blocks your body’s ability to convert the sun’s rays to Vitamin D by 99%.

What SPF really means-

A popular misconception of SPF numbers is that the higher the number, the more protection you are getting.  I used to think that if I used SPF 50 I was getting maximum protection.  This is not so.  SPF numbers determine how long you can be in the sun before burning, not how strong your lotion is.

To determine the amount of time you can be in the sun and be protected you must find out how long it takes you to burn before getting a sunburn.  Take that number and multiply it by the SPF you are using.  For example-If it takes you 20 minutes to start burning after being in the sun and you are using SPF 30 multiply 20 x 30=600.  You have 600 minutes in the sun before you are no longer protected.

>>Minutes to burn without sunscreen x SPF number = maximum sun exposure time<<

I don’t recommend you stay in the sun for more than 3 hours without reapplying sun screen.  Lots of factors can influence the effectiveness of your cream.  Read HERE for more info. on how often you should re-apply your sunscreen.

My Healthy Sunscreen Recommendations….

There are actually completely natural carrier oils and even essential oils that provide great protection from the sun.  I really prefer mineral sunblocks because they do not penetrate the skin.  Most of the brands below are mineral sunblocks that I have used.   I personally use Mychelle Dermaceuticals and Coola for myself and Badger for my girls.

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Jennifer Phillips

Jennifer Phillips

Jennifer Phillips worked as a licensed aesthetician for over 8 years before creating the green beauty blog, Jenni Raincloud and her natural skin care line, J. Raincloud Organics. Jennifer has been blogging full time for 9 years and loves to gain and share knowledge on how to achieve beautiful skin the natural way.

14 thoughts on “Is Sunscreen Dangerous?”

  1. Jenni,
    I love your blogs…very helpful information! Thanks so much for taking the time to do them. The message of using less chemicals in all areas of our life is so important!

  2. Does your example above mean that I can be in the sun for 600 minutes (10 hours) without reapplying and without burning? I read somewhere that sunscreen stops working after 3 hours and needs to be reapplied. Did you find anything about that in your research? I spend a lot of time on a motorcycle and I’m not always able to just stop and reapply. Thanks!

    1. Jennifer K-Thanks for bringing that up-that is a great question that should’ve been included in my post. I have revised the post to include my recommendation on re-applying. I like this article on re applying. Basically you are right-you really should re apply every 3 hours. Factors like sweat and humidity can effect your sunblock.

  3. You can’t say “this is bad and this isn’t!” without telling us de proven goods of the non-chemical SPF..

    1. Jennifer K-I usually don’t-If I’m going to be out in the sun I usually don’t wear make up but, if you are using a mineral make up you could just dust on another layer. It contains titanium dioxide and zinc oxide which will protect your skin. Hope this helps!

      1. Thanks for the response. I rarely wear makeup, but if I do and happen to be on the motorcycle, this would be useful to know!

  4. Hi Jenni,
    I was wondering if you have any recommendations for a DIY sunblock. I was looking at the COOLA sunblock that you use but some of the comments say that it leaves a white film behind- and i don’t really think that will work for me because my skin is a bit darker.
    thanks in advance!

    1. Maria-You might need to look into a sunblock that is not mineral based. Mineral based means that it will contain zinc oxide which is thick and white. It soaks in and blends with most skin types but I could see that it might be an issue for darker skin. Try coola’s regular sunblock that is chemical based.
      It is still paraben free and way safer, plus it’s great for the skin. I haven’t used this one but it does say it is very thin and light. Good luck!

    2. Hi Maria! I would like to make a quick suggestion for you! A friend of mine, with darker skin, adds some of her bronzer powder to her sunblock to tint it for her skin. We make our own mineral cosmetics and this works really well for her skin and it is not costly. In a pinch, she will add some brown oxide to it with some bronze mica for a “glow.” like a tinted moisturizer perhaps, that way she can still use the mineral sunscreen. I hope that helps!

  5. Hi Jenni,
    I have been following your blog and its awesome! Many blogs say how important it is to use sunblock everyday. What are your thoughts on that? I currently use a moisturizer that has spf but its aboit to run out and will be making changes to my skincare routine to be more natural.

  6. I realize this is several years old but I was looking for sunscreen alternatives for my father (I choose not to use it) and found this page. However the main ingredient in coola (avobenzone) is one you have listed as “known to cause cancer” when discussing chemical sunscreens. Just a little confused by this…

    1. Amanda-What!? Thanks for letting me know-I’m looking into it right now! However, I now use MyChelle Dermaceuticals Sun Care-they’re great and 25% off today for July 4th!

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