True Cellular Formulas Team - April 2, 2023

Sunscreen Dangers

The Dark Side of Toxin Exposure

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The Need for Sunscreen

Sunscreen can be a vital tool in our fight against skin cancer and premature aging for those who spend a lot of time in the sun. However, as sunscreen use becomes more widespread, concerns about the safety of certain chemicals found in some sunscreens have arisen. In this article, we will delve into the dangers associated with toxins in sunscreen and discuss safer alternatives to protect your skin without putting your health at risk.

Understanding UV Radiation and Sunscreen

Sunlight contains ultraviolet radiation, which is divided into three types: UVA, UVB, and UVC.[1] While UVC is absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere and does not reach our skin, both UVA and UVB rays can cause skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer.[2] Sunscreens work by absorbing, reflecting, or scattering these harmful rays to protect our skin from damage.

There are two primary types of sunscreen: chemical and mineral.[3] Chemical sunscreens contain organic compounds that absorb UV radiation, while mineral sunscreens use inorganic compounds, like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, to physically block or reflect UV rays. It is the chemical sunscreens that have raised concerns about potential health risks due to the presence of certain toxins.

Toxic Ingredients in Chemical Sunscreens

Several ingredients commonly found in chemical sunscreens have been linked to potential health risks. Some of the most concerning toxic ingredients include:

  1. Oxybenzone: Oxybenzone is a widely used UV filter in chemical sunscreens. It has been found to cause skin irritation and allergies in some individuals.[4] More alarmingly, research has shown that oxybenzone can be absorbed through the skin, leading to hormone disruption and potential harm to coral reefs when washed off in the ocean.[5]
  2. Octinoxate: Octinoxate is another common UV filter that has been linked to hormone disruption, reproductive toxicity, and harm to marine life.[6] Like oxybenzone, octinoxate is readily absorbed through the skin and has been detected in human blood, urine, and breast milk.[7]
  3. Homosalate: Homosalate is a UV filter that has been shown to disrupt estrogen, androgen, and progesterone hormones.[8] This disruption can lead to developmental, reproductive, and metabolic issues, as well as concerns about the safety of long-term use.[9]
  4. Octocrylene: Octocrylene is another chemical sunscreen ingredient that has been associated with skin allergies and irritation.[10] It can also produce free radicals when exposed to sunlight, which can cause oxidative stress and potential DNA damage.[11]

Regulatory Scrutiny and Bans

In response to growing concerns about the safety of certain chemical sunscreen ingredients, regulatory agencies have begun to take action. In 2019, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a new rule to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of sunscreen ingredients.[12] Of the 16 active ingredients in sunscreens, the FDA recognized only zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (mineral sunscreens) as safe and effective, while the safety of 12 other ingredients, including oxybenzone and octinoxate, remained uncertain.[13]

Furthermore, some places have banned sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate due to their harmful impact on coral reefs.[14] Hawaii, for example, enacted a law in 2018 prohibiting the sale of sunscreens containing these ingredients.[15]

Safer Sunscreen Alternatives

With the potential risks associated with toxins in chemical sunscreens, many consumers are seeking safer alternatives. Mineral sunscreens, which use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to block UV rays, offer a safer and more environmentally friendly option. These ingredients are less likely to cause skin irritation and have not been linked to hormone disruption or environmental harm.[16]

When choosing a mineral sunscreen, it's important to look for one that provides broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Additionally, a water-resistant formula can help maintain effective sun protection during swimming or sweating.[17] 

The Naughty List

  • Banana Boat Ultra Sport Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
  • Coppertone WaterBabies Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
  • Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30
  • Neutrogena Beach Defense Sunscreen Lotion SPF 70
  • Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen Lotion SPF 55
  • NO-AD Sun Care Sport Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
  • Ocean Potion Protect & Nourish Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30
  • Sun Bum Original Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
  • Walgreens Sport Continuous Spray Sunscreen SPF 50
  • Equate (Walmart) Ultra Protection Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50

The Good List

  • Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen
  • Thinksport Safe Sunscreen
  • Badger Unscented Sunscreen
  • Sun Bum Mineral Sunscreen
  • Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen
  • Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Sunscreen
  • Alba Botanica Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen
  • La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Sunscreen
  • Goddess Garden Organics Mineral Sunscreen
  • COOLA Mineral Sunscreen

Additional Sun Protection Measures

While using a safer sunscreen is one way to prevent over-exposure to the sun, there are many other ways to engage with smart sun exposure.[18]

  1. Seek shade: Try to avoid direct sun exposure, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun's rays are the strongest.
  2. Wear protective clothing: Long sleeves, pants, and wide-brimmed hats can provide additional protection against UV radiation.
  3. Be mindful of reflective surfaces: Water, sand, and snow can reflect UV rays, increasing your exposure even when you're in the shade.
  4. Check the UV index: Keep an eye on the UV index in your area to understand the strength of the sun's rays and plan your outdoor activities accordingly.

The Importance of Sun Safety

While there are legitimate concerns about the potential dangers associated with toxins in some chemical sunscreens, it's crucial to remember that protecting your skin from the sun's harmful rays is an essential aspect of maintaining overall health. By choosing safer mineral sunscreens and practicing comprehensive sun protection measures, you can enjoy the outdoors without compromising your health or the environment.


Understanding the potential risks of toxins in chemical sunscreens is an important step toward making informed decisions about sun protection. By opting for safer mineral sunscreens and implementing a well-rounded sun safety strategy, you can minimize your exposure to harmful UV radiation and reduce your risk of skin cancer, premature aging, and other sun-related skin damage. Stay sun-savvy and protect yourself and your loved ones with safe and effective sun protection measures.

  1. World Health Organization. "Ultraviolet Radiation (UV)." World Health Organization, 2021,
  2. American Cancer Society. "How Do I Protect Myself from Ultraviolet (UV) Rays?" American Cancer Society, 2021,
  3. Gasparro, Francis P., et al. "Sunscreens, Skin Photobiology, and Skin Cancer: The Need for UVA Protection and Evaluation of Efficacy." Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 108, no. 1, 2000, pp. 71-78, doi: 10.1289/ehp.00108s171.
  4. Rodriguez, E., et al. "Skin Irritation and Sensitization to Sunscreen Agents." Contact Dermatitis, vol. 50, no. 4, 2004, pp. 239-240, doi: 10.1111/j.0105-1873.2004.0363h.x.
  5. Downs, C. A., et al. "Toxicopathological Effects of the Sunscreen UV Filter, Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3), on Coral Planulae and Cultured Primary Cells and Its Environmental Contamination in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands." Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, vol. 70, no. 2, 2016, pp. 265-288, doi: 10.1007/s00244-015-0227-7.
  6. Krause, M., et al. "Sunscreen: Simultaneous Determination of Three UV Filters in Rat Plasma and in Human Plasma by High-Performance Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry." Journal of Chromatography B, vol. 878, no. 28, 2010, pp. 2843-2848, doi: 10.1016/j.jchromb.2010.08.018.
  7. Janjua, N.R., et al. "Systemic Absorption of the Sunscreens Benzophenone-3, Octyl-Methoxycinnamate, and 3-(4-Methyl-Benzylidene) Camphor After Whole-Body Topical Application and Reproductive Hormone Levels in Humans." Journal of Investigative Dermatology, vol. 123, no. 1, 2004, pp. 57-61, doi: 10.1111/j.0022-202X.2004.22725.x.
  8. Schmutzler, C., et al. "Endocrine Active Compounds Affect Thyrotropin and Thyroid Hormone Levels in Serum as well as TSH-, TRH-, and T-3-mRNA Expression in Rat Pituitary." Toxicology Letters, vol. 111, no. 3, 2000, pp. 243-253, doi: 10.1016/S0378-4274(99)00250-1.
  9. Axelstad, M., et al. "Effects of Pre- and Postnatal Exposure to the UV-Filter Octyl Methoxycinnamate (OMC) on the Reproductive, Auditory, and Neurological Development of Rat Offspring." Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, vol. 250, no. 3, 2011, pp. 278-290, doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2010.11.005.
  10. Ghazipura, M., et al. "Exposure to Benzophenone-3 and Reproductive Toxicity: A Systematic Review of Human and Animal Studies." Reproductive Toxicology, vol. 73, 2017, pp. 175-183, doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2017.08.015.
  11. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "The Burning Facts." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014,
  12. Environmental Working Group. "EWG's 2021 Guide to Sunscreens." Environmental Working Group, 2021,
  13. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "Sunscreen Drug Products for Over-the-Counter Human Use; Proposed Amendment of Final Monograph." Federal Register, vol. 84, no. 98, 2019, pp. 21472-21492,
  14. Liao, C., and Kannan, K. "Widespread Occurrence of Benzophenone-Type UV Light Filters in Personal Care Products from China and the United States: An Assessment of Human Exposure." Environmental Science and Technology, vol. 47, no. 7, 2013, pp. 3343-3351, doi: 10.1021/es4002152.
  15. Environmental Working Group. "Mineral Sunscreens." Environmental Working Group, 2021,
  16. Pfotenhauer, K. M., and Shubrook, J. H. "Vitamin D Deficiency, Its Role in Health and Disease, and Current Supplementation Recommendations." The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, vol. 117, no. 5, 2017, pp. 301-305, doi: 10.7556/jaoa.2017.055.
  17. American Academy of Dermatology. "How to Select a Sunscreen." American Academy of Dermatology, 2021,
  18. American Academy of Dermatology. "Sunscreen FAQs." American Academy of Dermatology, 2021,

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