Active ingredients in sunscreens come in two forms, mineral and chemical filters. Each uses a different method of protecting skin and maintaining stability in sunlight. Either can be hazardous to your family's health.
The most common sunscreens we find on store shelves everywhere contain chemical filters. These products usually contain a combination of two, up to six, of these active ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. Mineral sunscreens use zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. Some products combine zinc oxide with chemical filters.
Now let's look at the ingredient toxicity in sunscreen:
We will outline the level of human exposure, and toxicity information for the top most toxic FDA-approved sunscreen chemicals.
The FDA information I have gathered has given the following results.
The highest toxicity UV filters listed one by one:
Oxybenzone: This has a very high level of toxicity. It's use is widespread in the sunscreens in United States, and is detected in nearly every American; found in mother’s milk; with skin penetration in lab studies that range from 1 to 9%.
It is an estorogen and endocrine disruptor (affects the reproductive and thyroid system) that alters sperm production in males and is associated with endometriosis in women. It also has been shown to cause permanent alteration in reproductive development and/or behavior.
It also causes skin allergies in a hight percentage of the population.
Octinoxate: Though this chemical scores slightly lower in toxicity, it still is found in mother's milk. It is a knkown hormone disruptor and it interferes with and alters thyroid funcion.
Homosalate: This is rated at yet a lower toxicity level than the previous two chemicals, however, it is far from harmless. This is also present in mother's milk, and can be passed to a nursing baby. This is another hormone disruptor that affect levels of estrogen, androgen, and progesterone; considerable cause for alarm in a developing fetus.
The most concerning thing about this is that it combines with other substances to create toxins inside the human body.
Titanium Dioxide: This chemical is usually found in the form of a spray or a powder. It is widely used in sunscreens in the USA. Though it doesn't affect hormone functions in the body, there is reason for concern if inhaled.
This is by no means, a complete list of chemicals in sunscreens. We make no attempt to list every ingredient. Our interest is in bringing forth the most dangerous, and pointing out the health concerns according to those with higher toxicity.
Two European studies have detected sunscreen chemicals in mothers’ milk, indicating that the developing fetus and newborns may be exposed to these substances (Schlumpf 2008, Schlumpf 2010). A 2010 study by Margaret Schlumpf of the University of Zurich found at least one sunscreen chemical in 85 percent of milk samples of lactating mothers.
The biggest concern surrounds the sunscreen chemical oxybenzone, found in nearly every chemical sunscreen sold in the United States. Consumers would be wise to avoid this chemical because it can penetrate the skin, cause allergic skin reactions and may disrupt hormones (Calafat 2008, Rodriguez 2006, Krause 2012). Preliminary investigations of human populations suggest a strong link between higher concentrations of oxybenzone and its metabolites in the body and increased risk of endometriosis and lower birthweight in female infants (Kunisue 2012, Wolff 2008).
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has detected oxybenzone in more than 96 percent of the American population, based on a sampling of more than 2,500 children and adults (Calafat 2008). Researchers found higher concentrations of oxybenzone in samples collected from participants during the summer months and concluded that sunscreen use may explain this seasonal difference.
A chemical called methylisothiazolinone, or MI, a preservative that is listed among the 'Inactive Ingredients' is found on the labels of 90 plus types of sunscreens, more than 10 of which are marketed specifically for use on children, and is also present in 54 SPF-rated daily moisturizers. It also is sumetimes found along with methylchloroisothiazolinone, or MCI, another related chemical preservative.
This 'inactive ingredient' seems to be very active at causing allergic reactions of the skin. It has been proven to be a skin allergen, and has been causing some very serious reactions, mainly in children.
So, think before spraying, or slathering on that sunscreen! It is emparative that we find the safest products to use for our families. We are all bombarded daily by chemicals in the air, food, and environment that have assailed our immune systems to the point of collapse. We need to at least not add to the problem by putting toxic substances on our bodies without looking at the consequences.