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Is Your Sunscreen Safe?

Last June I wrote a post about the dangers of using vitamin A and vitamin A derivatives in sunscreen, which many over-the-counter sunscreen brands are still using. There are, however, several other chemical ingredients posing threats to our bodies that everyone should be aware of before slathering on the sun protection.

There’s no question about it – UV protection is absolutely essential, but when a formula contains unhealthy doses and combinations of chemicals it fundamentally limits what it purports to do…protect the skin. In fact, many of the chemical-laden sunscreens on the market today actually proliferate the development of malignant cells due to their free-radical generating properties.

Chemicals and sunscreen

Today the vast majority of SPF (sun protection factor) formulas have a laundry list of chemicals. While these may promise higher SPFs, water resistance and all-day wear, they also subject the skin to dangerous ingredients that are absorbed by the body. The most common chemical ingredients in non-mineral sunscreens include octinoxate, oxybenzone (a form of benzophenone), octisalate, and avobenzone. Each of these is found in 40 to 60 percent of all sunscreens on the market.

In addition to increased cancer rates, these unstable chemicals have also been linked to hormone imbalance, dysfunctions in sexual development and function, as well as birth defects because of their estrogen-like effects. A closer look at a few of these harmful chemicals reveals the dangerous side effects:

  • Octinoxate (or octyl methoxycinnamate) – an estrogenic chemical, which according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an organization that evaluates U.S. sunscreen chemicals for their ability to block UV radiation and toxicity, is in 40 percent of U.S. sunscreen formulas. It’s been linked to hormonal imbalance and increased rates of cancer.
  • Oxybenzone (a derivative of benzophenone) – a chemical found in 60 percent of U.S. formulas, it is known for hormone disruption and attacking DNA when UV light is absorbed. In Europe, products with .5 percent or more of this chemical must have the warning label, “Contains Oxybenzone.”
  • Avobenzone – a powerful free-radical generator. It absorbs UV radiation energy and since it cannot destroy this energy it converts the light energy to chemical energy, which is typically released as free radicals in the body.
    When several of these chemicals are combined to form a broadband sunscreen, the formula actually degrades even faster, leaving the skin exposed.

Below the surface

Scientists have also been researching the ability of these chemicals to permeate the skin and enter the bloodstream, causing a slew of other damaging effects. Each of these chemicals – oxybenzone, octinoxate, avobenzone – work as penetration enhancers, meaning they are easily absorbed by the skin, and the longer they sit on the skin, the more threat they pose.

A study conducted in the U.S., using biomonitoring, detected oxybenzone (or benzophenone-3) in 96 percent of the population. In Europe a study found traces of four common sunscreen chemicals in breast milk, which is potentially exposing infants to these dangerous chemicals.

Our philosophy

We get a lot of inquiries about tinted sunscreens and why our sunscreen formulas have a different texture. We made the decision long ago to remain true to our philosophy, which is to create healthy skin first and foremost. Sacrificing healthy skin for an ideal feel or color was not an option to us. All of our formulas are mineral-based, using zinc, which acts as a natural reflective shield, blocking the sun’s damaging rays without injecting the body with harmful chemicals.

In response to many of the inquiries, we’ve created a number of ideas for achieving a desired texture, color or outcome. For instance, to eliminate dryness or create a creamier feel, blend the Daytime Defense or eZinc Protection Cream with a dab of the Amino Peptide Moisturizer, Exotica Rhodiola Cream, or your favorite moisturizer. For men, blend the EnviroProtect with the Complex VI hydrating serum. If you are looking for a tinted formula, combine foundation or concealer with the sunscreen before applying it to the skin.

Remember to always opt for an SPF30 and avoid chemical-based formulas. Instead seek out formulas with natural zinc barrier. Be sure to talk to your clients about this too, it could save them from a lot of dangerous side effects. For more information on zinc oxide download the white papers for Daytime Defense, eZinc Protection Cream or the EnviroProtect.

Question: What blends have you created with the Daytime Defense, eZinc Protection Cream or EnviroProtect?

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