If you spend any time on social media or watching the news, you’ve probably heard the latest
sunscreen news; “Baby Get Face Burned Off by Sunscreen”, “Sunscreen Now Causes More
Cancer Than the Sun Itself”, and so on. But it can be hard to know among all the fear-
mongering articles what the truth is about sunscreen. Although we have touched on sunscreen
before on this Northern Colorado natural skincare blog, we want to dig a little deeper into the
great sunscreen debate and throw in our two cents as well.
Why Wear It?
If you have fair skin, you already know sunscreen helps you avoid painful sunburns and
blisters. And it is widely believed sunscreen helps prevent skin cancer, even for those with dark
pigmented skin. The Skin Cancer Foundation reports a study from Australia showing those who
regularly applied sunscreen to their face, neck, arms, and hands were 50% less likely to have a
melanoma. If sunscreen is so vital to preventing skin cancer, where are we going wrong?
What are the Concerns with Wearing Sunscreen?
The Environmental Working Group points out sunscreen is a very complicated substance. It
must be strong enough to fight off the sun’s rays while being gentle enough to not cause rashes or irritations. It needs to bond with skin so it doesn’t rinse right off - but it needs to be non-toxic in case of absorption, or accidental consumption or inhalation.
The active ingredients in sunscreens are either mineral or chemical. Many of the common
chemical ingredients are oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and
octinoxate and usually there is a combination of at least two of these ingredients. Common
mineral sunscreens are zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide.
One of the main concerns raised by the EWG and many others is that 16 of the 19 FDA-
approved chemical active ingredients in sunscreen have no documented tests on if these
chemicals themselves cause cancer. Other concerns include skin allergies, rashes, and
unwanted hormonal effects.
While the Skin Cancer Foundation publishes articles like this, advocating that sunscreen does
not cause skin cancer and that everyone ought to wear sunscreen to avoid development of
cancerous and pre-cancerous cells, other sources post articles saying quite the contrary. Online
sources like The Truth About Cancer maintain sunscreen is not safe and should be avoided,
even providing recipes for homemade sunscreen that is safe with ingredients like cocoa butter
and vitamin E.
Other sources seek to explain the problems we are seeing. For example, if you have seen the
viral story going around on social media about the baby who had a sever burn from Banana
Boat sunscreen, WebMD explains it was probably a photo-allergy. This photo-allergy was an
allergic reaction caused by the interaction between the sun, the product, and an allergy the
young girl had to one of the ingredients. Dr. Alok Vij from the Cleveland Clinic explains:
“It’s not very common, but sunscreens are a common cause of that [photoallergic] reaction.
The thing that makes it harder to diagnose is that there are a lot of potential allergens in the
chemical sunscreens. Fragrances, preservatives -- a lot of ingredients that sunscreen companies use to make them spread more easily, absorb more quickly, essentially make them more elegant to put on the skin.”
Where Does That Leave Us?
Our opinion here at SkinDeep Naturals is always that a more natural product is better. Is it
possible for you to use chemical sunscreen your whole life and never have a bad allergic
reaction or have it lead to skin cancer? Maybe so. But will you have more peace of mind and
potentially healthier body systems using products that have natural ingredients? We tend to
lean in this direction.
When it comes to you and your family’s health, we think it’s best to go with your gut and of
course ask a medical provider you trust if you have questions. And if you are looking for a
natural sunscreen, we love Raw Elements Sunscreen and SPF 30 Sport Sunscreen by Juice Beauty.
If you have more questions about natural skincare we’d love to chat! Contact us today at