2 Sunscreen Ingredients To Avoid. Know Safer Alternatives

2 Sunscreen Ingredients To Avoid. Know Safer Alternatives

Khushboo is a self-care enthusiast who loves taking care of the overall health of her skin & hair with well-researched and scientifically formulated topical solutions.

Checking notifications on your phone too much? But did you check the label of the sunscreen you just ordered?

It's not always as safe as it claims… 

Certain ingredients in your sunscreen might be harmful not just to your skin but to sea life as well. 

Summer or winter, rain or shine while wearing sunscreen is one of the most important things you can do for your skin, but know that not all of them are formulated equally. Advances in chemistry and dermatology have made it easy for harmful ingredients to infiltrate the sunscreen market. I know many of us have no clue about the exact ingredients in our favorite SPF tubes, leave aside whether they're harmful or not.

But here’s some help. Read on to know the safe and unsafe ingredients in your sunscreen tube.  

Ingredients to avoid in sunscreen
1. Oxybenzone 

Oxybenzone has been enemy No.1 in sunscreens for a while now. However, it was not until 2019 that the ingredient was considered a serious threat to the skin and the human body in general. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), Oxybenzone -

  • Is easily absorbed by our skin in large amounts and has been known to stay in our system for long stretches of time
  • Is allergenic and has relatively high rates of skin reactions
  • Is a potential endocrine disruptor
  • Has been continuously detected in amniotic fluid, human breast milk, blood, and urine
  • Has been linked to damage to coral reefs and other sea life.

At this point, you'd probably feel that you have been cheated upon. Relax, there is an alternative. Look for oxybenzone-free, low-penetration sunscreen. It will keep skin protected without penetrating into your skin. Such a formulation without oxybenzone makes your sunscreen one of the safest organic/chemical sunscreens. 


Para-Aminobenzoic Acid (PABA) is a natural chemical found in vitamin folic acid and also in several foods, including milk, eggs, and meat. Since it's found right at the heart of nature, one would think PABA would be safe to use as a sunscreen ingredient. Unfortunately, some studies say otherwise.

In one such study conducted in the late 1990s by Dr. John Knowland of the University of Oxford, PABA was found to break down when exposed to sunlight, releasing free radicals that could damage the DNA. 

Research says that it is likely to contribute to the onset of sun-induced cancer despite protecting the skin through the absorption of UVB. 

Over the years, many people that didn't use PABA-free sunscreen reported allergic dermatitis rash, discoloration in clothing, and in worst-case scenarios, pigmentation of the skin. 

Beach and sunscreen—do you know that your sunscreen is killing sea life? 

Newsflash: Your favorite sunscreen could actually be killing sea life.

It's no secret that sunscreen is a must-have for any outdoor activity. But have you ever thought about what's in the sunscreen you cover yourself with before a dip at the beach, and how it might be impacting the environment around you as it washes off?

Research shows that oxybenzone, the most commonly used UV blocker worldwide, is heavily contributing to the bleaching and eventual death of coral reefs around the world.  

  • Oxybenzone has been shown to damage young coral reefs and disrupts their normal development. 
  • It curtails their ability to reproduce healthily.
  • It causes physical deformities that make them even more susceptible to coral bleaching.
  • It's equally toxic to other marine wildlife species, like fish. 

Did You Know - In 2018, Hawaii banned oxybenzone to protect its vast collection of coral reefs. Since then, other places like the Pacific Island nation of Palau and Aruba have followed suit. 

The good news is that there are comparable alternatives that work just as well to protect your skin without harming reefs. Eco-friendly sunscreen products, which utilize ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are of no threat to marine life and are typically labeled as such. 

How safe is your sunscreen? Find out what is the healthiest sunscreen for your face

Looking at the ingredients list on sunscreen lotions, you're likely to see things like octinoxate, oxybenzone, zinc oxide, salicylate, avobenzone, octisalate, titanium dioxide, and so on and so forth. Unless you're a dermatologist or chemist, chances of understanding most sunscreen ingredient lists are next to zero. 

Regardless of how you may perceive these ingredients, the truth is that they dictate the safety level of your sunscreen. Remain vigilant and mindful of the ingredients in your sunscreen. And there's no better way to do that than to understand all sunscreen ingredients—both the good and the bad—inside out. 

Good Sunscreen Ingredients
1. Zinc Oxide

One outstanding property of zinc oxide is that it's photostable, meaning that it resists change in the presence of light. So when it's used as an ingredient in sunscreen lotions, ZnO blocks a certain amount of radiant energy in the UV light waves. Plus, it protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

2. Titanium Dioxide

Next up is titanium dioxide. Unlike other compounds used in sunscreens, which may absorb only a part of the UV radiation, titanium dioxide is extremely efficient at absorbing both UVA and UVB rays—all without permeating or damaging the skin.

In fact, it never goes beyond the epidermis, making it one of the safest sunscreen ingredients there is today. 

3. Uvinul A Plus

Sunscreen ingredients with added anti-aging benefits have special appeal, and Uvinul A Plus leads the pack in this regard. It not only reliably filters the sun's dangerous UVA rays, but also provides outstanding protection from free radicals and skin damage. 

If your skin is overly sensitive, then you'll love Uvinul A Plus even more. It's 100% fragrance-free, alcohol-free, and essential oil-free, making it the perfect sunscreen ingredient for those whose skin breaks out at the slightest provocation.

4. Prunus Yedoensis Leaf Extract

As complex as it sounds, this ingredient is cherry blossom leaf extract!

This natural component exhibits amazing anti-inflammatory properties. Since sensitive and dry skin type is easily prone to allergic reactions to various things, it needs a calming agent. Research also shows that Prunus Yedoensis Leaf Extract has a soothing effect on the irritated skin and helps inhibit melanogenesis. 

5. Tinosorb® M

Most of the sunscreen filters can only protect you from either UVA or UVB rays. However, Tinosorb® M gives twice the effort and provides an advanced broad spectrum protection to sensitive skin against both UVA (both UVA-1 and UVA-2), UVB.

It is one of the most stable filters out there. It also possesses the qualities of mineral filters by absorbing the UV rays and converting them into the least damaging form of energy and later reflects them away. This is how it protects the sensitive skin.

The Key Takeaway

Sunscreen is a crucial component of your skincare routine. But if you're using one with unsafe ingredients, you could end up paying the ultimate price in the long run—scarred, itchy, flaky, wrinkled, or otherwise damaged skin. The key is to understand your sunscreen ingredients well and opt for the one with the safest ingredients. Remember, what's good for your skin is good for the environment, so do your due diligence right now.