Ingredients to Avoid in Sunscreen

Ingredients to Avoid in SunscreenIn your excitement to enjoy a relaxing holiday at the beach or any tropical destination, it can be easy to overlook the ingredients in your sunscreen. However, did you know that your skin can absorb much of what you slather on it? This means that harmful chemicals in products, including those in sunscreens, can pass through your bloodstream and circulate throughout your entire body, wreaking havoc on your immune and endocrine systems.

Here are five sunscreen ingredients you should avoid:

  1. Parabens

You may have noticed that “paraben free” labels are popping up everywhere. Parabens are the most widely used preservatives in personal care products, which works by stopping bacteria, fungus, and other microbes from growing in your favorite beauty products, especially in moist, warm environments. They are dangerous due to their role in disrupting hormone functions, which may potentially lead to an increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity. In fact, five common types of parabens have been officially banned in the European Union, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is under high pressure to ban parabens in the United States.

  1. Oxybenzone

Oxybenzone is a chemical that absorbs and filters UV light present in roughly 80% of chemical sunscreens, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Unfortunately, although an effective barrier against ultraviolet radiation, oxybenzone causes relatively high rates of skin allergies. It also acts like estrogen once it enters your bloodstream, which may reduce sperm production, disrupt the endocrine system, and potentially cause endometriosis (abnormal growth of endometrial tissue similar to what lines the interior of the uterus).

  1. OctinoxateIngredients to Avoid in Sunscreen Image

Octinoxate is a UVB absorber that does an excellent job at preventing sunburns. However, a study concludes that octinoxate causes complete bleaching of coral reefs, even at very low concentrations. When it comes to the human body, the UVB-absorbing agent disrupts your endocrine system by mimicking hormonal activity that affects not only your reproductive system, but also your thyroid.

  1. Retinyl Palmitate

Retinyl Palmitate is a chemical form of vitamin A widely incorporated in sunscreens, including moisturizers and lip balms with SPF. The compound is believed to slow the signs of skin aging, but when exposed to sunlight, retinyl palmitate has been shown to accelerate the development of cancerous cells and skin tumors. This phenomenon occurs because UV rays cause the compound to break down and produce destructive free radicals.

  1. Octocrylene

The FDA and European Union classify 10% of octocrylene as safe for use, while Health Canada allows a maximum use level of 12%. With three independent and official seal of approvals, octocrylene may seem harmless. However, the Archives of Dermatology and the Dermatology Journal Online have discussed allergic responses to the compound. Though easily absorbed by the skin, much like retinyl palmitate, it produces free radicals that may cause cell mutations when exposed to UV rays.


The next time you shop and pack for a great holiday weekend or summer trip, remember to think consciously and carefully about what you are feeding your skin, along with the effects certain chemicals can have on your general health. To avoid allergic reactions and potential threats to your health, always consult a dermatologist before trying any new product on your skin.