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Natural Sunscreen: Stay Sunburn-Free With Safer, Natural Sunscreens

4/29/2010 5:04:32 PM

Tags: natural sunscreen, natural sunscreens, daily beauty routine, beauty, sunscreen, zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, environmental working group, skin deep cosmetics safety database, american academy of dermatology, oxybenzone

Startling skin cancer stats keep sunscreen in my daily beauty routine. Doctors diagnose more than a million cases of skin cancer in the United States each year, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Unfortunately, not all sunscreens are created equal, and some sunscreens contain ingredients that can increase cancer risks! Keep your body healthy and sunburn-free by choosing natural sunscreens that don’t leach toxic chemicals into your body.

close-up on the beach
Protect delicate skin from sunburn and cancer by applying SPF 30 natural sunscreen every day. Photo By Evan Romine/Courtesy Flickr. 

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends SPF 30 or higher sunscreens that protect against UVA and UVB light. It lists the following ingredients as ones to look for on sunscreen labels.

• Avobenzone (2)

• Cinoxate (3)

• Ecamsule (2)

• Menthyl anthranilate (1)

• Octyl methoxycinnamate

• Octyl salicylate (6-8)

• Oxybenzone (9)

• Sulisobenzone (3-4)

• Titanium dioxide (1-4)

• Zinc oxide (2-5)

Seek natural sunscreens that have active ingredients that score low on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database. Avoid sunscreens that have active ingredients that score higher than 6, which means the ingredient can be a high hazard for cancer, developmental toxicity and other dangerous health consequences.

Most of the active ingredients the American Academy of Dermatology cites as effective sun protectants fall into the low to moderate hazard, but two common ingredients—octyl salicylate and oxybenzone—score on the higher end of the high-hazard list. Oxybenzone is linked to low birth weight in baby girls whose mothers are exposed during pregnancy, and oxybenzone also enhances other chemicals’ ability to penetrate the skin more invasively—something to definitely be aware of if you use conventional cosmetics in conjunction with oxybenzone-based sunscreens.

Want to know if your sunscreen contains oxybenzone? Check out the Environmental Working Group’s handy list of more than 800 products that contain oxybenzone.

Need to find safe, natural sunscreen? The Environmental Working Group has a list of more than 500 safer, natural sunscreens.

Stay tuned for a listing of some of my favorite natural sunscreens! Do you wear sunscreen every day? What sunscreen do you use?

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