How aptly timed- we move into Fall and I’m posting about sunscreen! It may seem out of season, but in actuality, we should be wearing sunscreen every day. As it covers a significant portion of the skin and is worn frequently, the chemicals in sunscreen can have the largest propensity to affect our bodies.
As mentioned in the introduction post, my Exposure Analysis class and the research my group did on sunscreen sparked my interest in how chemicals, specifically cosmetics, can affect human health. Certain chemicals have the benefits of being UV-filters, which is why they are added to sunscreens. Unfortunately, many of those chemicals have endocrine disrupting characteristics and pose health concerns. As a brief anatomy review, the endocrine system is composed of glands that produce hormones. These hormones are responsible for many bodily functions including, but not limited to, regulating metabolism, sexual function, tissue function, growth and development, reproduction, sleep, and mood1. Additionally, some of the ingredients are more apt to cause allergic reactions.
After studying the various ingredients in sunscreen my group came up with this handy graphic to demonstrate which ingredients to steer clear of when purchasing sunscreen2:
- High toxicity concern : These chemicals are more readily absorbed into the body. Once absorbed, they act as endocrine disruptors and have hormone stimulating behavior. Additionally, they have the potential to be strong allergens.
- Medium toxicity concern : These chemicals have minimal skin penetration and are mild allergens. They have not been shown to have hormone or reproductive issues.
- Low toxicity concern: These chemicals have minimal to no skin penetration. They have not been shown to have hormone or reproductive issues and rarely cause allergic reactions.
Therefore, the ideal sunscreens are made with the chemicals in the green group.
Some sunscreens contain nanoparticles: nano-scale chemicals that allow the sunscreen to apply more smoothly. Unfortunately, chemicals act differently when they are nano-sized than they do when they are normal sized and the effects are still being researched. I took an Environmental Nanotechnology class at UCLA and learned that a lot of chemicals become harmful at nanoscale and thus am a proponent of avoiding them- especially in cosmetics and sunscreens that are directly applied to the skin.
I get a lot of my information from the Environmental Working Group (EWG). They rank their sunscreens from 1- least toxic to 10- most toxic. When we were researching for our sunscreen exposure project, EWG had a plethora of information that aligned with our Google Scholar articles, so I trust them as a source.
This has been my favorite find so far: DeVita Solar Protective Moisturizer
It is given the lowest toxicity score on the Environmental Working Group’s website and I have used it a lot. It can be a bit chalky, but I much prefer that to having the waxy residue of a sunscreen that will not rub in. I’m actually going to go purchase myself some more of this right now.
I’ve tried a couple others but can’t recommend them because they felt thick, waxy, and/or made me breakout (e.g. California Baby Super Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen and Banana Boat Baby). More recommendations can be found on the EWG link at the bottom of this post.
I’ll touch back on tinted products in my foundation post, but for now my recommendations are:
This one has a score of 3, but I’ve been using it for a couple months now and LOVE it. It has a nice smell, it goes on smoothly, and when used with a Beauty Blender it looks airbrushed. I highly recommend it.
Andalou Naturals Brightening SPF 30: This one was given a score of 1 by the EWG and although I haven’t tried it, I will probably give this one a try once my Burt’s Bees BB Cream has run out. It’s around the same price, has a better EWG rating, and comes highly recommended on Amazon.
Juice Beauty Tinted Mineral Moisturizer: Here’s another one to try if the previous ones don’t work for you. It’s also rated 1 by the EWG, but significantly more expensive than the previous two.
More 1 (sunscreens ranked as least toxic by the EWG) suggestions can be found here:
And you can check the score of your sunscreen here (by entering it into the search bar).
Let me know if you have any recommendations or comments!