Sunscreens what to avoid


When selecting a sunscreen, it’s just as important to know what to avoid as it is to know what to look for. Certain ingredients and product types can be less effective, harmful to your health, or detrimental to the environment. Here’s what you should consider steering clear of when choosing a sunscreen:

Sunscreen Ingredients to Avoid

1. Oxybenzone and Octinoxate:

These are common UV-filtering chemical compounds found in many sunscreens. They are known to be potentially hormone-disrupting chemicals and are not reef-safe, meaning they can contribute to coral bleaching and harm marine ecosystems. Due to these concerns, it’s wise to choose sunscreens without these ingredients.

2. Irritating sunscreens:

Sunscreens derived from salicylic acid, commonly known as salicylates, include homosalate, octisalate, and trolamine salicylate among others. These are organic compounds used in some sunscreen formulas for their ability to absorb ultraviolet (UV) light.

Octocrylene is an organic compound used to absorb UVB and short-wave UVA rays. It functions as a stabilizer for other photolabile (light-sensitive) sunscreen agents, particularly avobenzone, helping to maintain their effectiveness throughout exposure to sunlight. While it is generally considered safe for use in sunscreens and personal care products, there have been some concerns about its potential to cause skin irritation or allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Environmental concerns have also been raised about octocrylene’s potential impact on marine ecosystems, including coral reefs.

Avobenzone is a dibenzoylmethane derivative that provides broad-spectrum UVA protection by absorbing the full range of UVA rays. This helps to prevent skin aging and damage that can lead to skin cancer. Similar to octocrylene, there are some concerns about skin sensitivity and allergic reactions, as well as its effects on the environment.

3. Retinyl Palmitate:

Some sunscreens contain retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A, which may speed up the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight, according to some research.

4. High-SPF Products:

While it might seem like the higher the SPF, the better the protection, there’s a limit to this benefit. Very high SPFs can be misleading and might encourage people to stay in the sun longer than they should. Additionally, they can create a false sense of security and may not offer proportionately greater UVA protection. Stick to SPFs within the 30-50 range for adequate protection.

5. Sunscreen Sprays:

While convenient, sprays can be inhaled, which may pose risks to the lungs and makes it more challenging to determine if you have applied enough to cover all exposed skin. If you do use a spray, apply it to your hands first and then rub it onto your skin.

6. Powders or Towelettes:

The effectiveness of powder or towelette forms of sunscreen is questionable, and they may not provide a consistent layer of protection. It’s best to use creams or lotions to ensure proper coverage.

7. Sunscreens with Insect Repellent:

Combining sunscreen with an insect repellent can diminish the effectiveness of the sunscreen and may overexpose you to the repellent chemicals since sunscreen needs to be reapplied more frequently.

Other Factors to Consider

1. Water Resistance Claims:

Be skeptical of sunscreens claiming to be “waterproof” or “sweatproof” as no sunscreen is completely water or sweat resistant. They can still wash off and require reapplication, especially after swimming or sweating.

2. Alcohol:

Alcoholic content in sunscreen can dry out the skin, particularly for those with sensitive or already dry skin. Look for alcohol-free formulas if you have these skin concerns.

When choosing a sunscreen, read labels carefully and opt for products with safe, effective ingredients that provide broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection. Avoid potentially harmful chemicals, and consider the product’s impact on both your health and the environment. Always remember to reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more often if swimming or sweating, to ensure the best possible protection.

Related products: Meso Shield 50.