Real talk. Wearing sunscreen—summer or winter, rain or shine—is one of the most important things you can do for your skin. Not only does it protect your skin from tanning and sun burns but it also helps to slow down the signs of ageing by protecting against harmful UV rays.
That said, not all sunscreens are created equal. While some are truly helpful to your skin in a slew of ways, others are outright harmful. Advances in chemistry and dermatology have made it easy for harmful ingredients to infiltrate the sunscreen market. What's worse, many of you have no clue about the exact ingredients in your favorite SPF tubes, let alone whether they're harmful or not.
But we're here to help! We did some digging to uncover safe sunscreen ingredients out there as well as the ones you should avoid by all means. Read on to learn more.
Ingredients to avoid in sunscreen
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 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 in coral reefs and other sea life.
At this point, you've probably sworn never to apply oxybenzone on your face ever again. Is there an alternative, you wonder? Of course there is. Look for oxybenzone-free, low penetration sunscreen that can work wonders even on oily/acne-prone skin (thank us later).
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.
- Over the years, many people that didn't use PABA-free sunscreen reported allergic dermatitis rash, discolouration 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 favourite sunscreen could actually be killing sea life.
It's no secret that sunscreen is a must-have on 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?
A growing body of research shows that oxybenzone, the most commonly used UV blockers worldwide, is heavily contributing to the bleaching and eventual death of coral reefs around the world.
Oxybenzone, in particular, has been shown to damage young coral reefs and disrupt their normal development. This curtails their ability to reproduce healthily and causes physical deformities that make them even more susceptible to coral bleaching.
And Oxybenzone doesn't just stop at coral reefs; it's equally toxic to other marine wildlife species, like fish. So harmful is this chemical that in 2018, Hawaii banned it 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 labelled 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 ingredients lists are next to zero. Maybe they're chemicals? Maybe they're some kind of incantation or pig Latin?
Regardless of how you may perceive these ingredients, the truth is that they dictate the safety level of your sunscreen.
One chemically unstable ingredient could render the entire product unsafe and unhealthy. That's because it'll easily break down in the sun, putting you at serious risk of incurring skin damage or worse.
As such, it's crucial that you 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 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. Tris-Biphenyl Triazine (Nano)
Unlike many sunscreen ingredients, Tris-Biphenyl Triazine (nano) has an outstanding safety profile, meaning there are no side effects or any known side effects when used on facial skin. Like ZnO, Tris-Biphenyl Triazine remains photostable even in the harshest of sun rays and does not scar, itch, or irritate skin whatsoever.
For oily or acne-prone skin, check out Oxybenzone Free Sunscreen SPF 50.
Despite what you may have heard about Iscotrizinol in sunscreens, this compound is as safe as they come.
Plus, it readily absorbs UVA and UVB radiation, meaning it's just as potent as the other good ingredients on this list.
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. Use this blog to know which ingredients to avoid in sunscreen and which ones to keep close. Remember, what's good for your skin is good for the environment, so do your due diligence right now.
Are you looking for a potent, safe, eco-friendly sunscreen product? Look no further than Ultra Matte Dry-Touch Sunscreen Gel SPF 50. This formula offers UVA, UVB and IR protection in one powerful sweep, ensuring that you're wearing your best skin all day, every day. The best part? It's sweat-resistant, water-resistant, and never breaks down when exposed to UV rays—meaning you can use it for all your outdoor activities (yes, all of them!).
And if you're after smooth skin and light coverage, Sheer Zinc Tinted Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 is your best bet going forward.