Are There Harmful Chemicals In Sunscreen?

By: Health Local Staff , Jun 14, 2016
Health Local Staff

We know about harmful chemicals found in some personal care products, but is sunscreen safe?

Recently, there have been some conflicting studies on the possibly harmful effects of sunscreen. Some reports, based on a study done on mice, say that sunscreen not only doesn’t protect against harmful UV rays, but also causes skin damage and tumors on its own. This sounds pretty scary, until you remember that this study was done on mice, which are more susceptible to cancer than humans, and have tinier bodies with different immune systems. Since the publication of these studies, scientists have mostly proven these studies to be untrue. While there are definitely do's and don’ts when it comes to sunscreen, it has more to do with using your brain and less to do with the sunscreen itself.

But What About the Chemicals?

The main issue researchers discussed in relation to sunscreen was the chemical ingredients. That being said, more natural ingredients like zinc are just as toxic if you ingest them or if they get into your blood stream – but that’s the thing. You’re not eating the sunscreen, and it’s not being injected into your veins. Avoid rubbing sunscreen into damaged skin or open wounds. Your skin does not absorb the most harmful of the chemicals in sunscreen. They sit on the top and block sun. After a long day covered in sunscreen, be sure to take a good, long shower and wash off all of the sunscreen and it won’t pose a threat to you – chemicals or otherwise.

Don’t Forget to Re-apply

Though many of us would enjoy simply being able to slather ourselves with a bucket of sunscreen and then run around for a day as if we weren’t wearing any, this isn’t the case. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied throughout the day to ensure that you’re protected. Especially after a good work out where you sweat, or a dip in a pool, lake or the ocean, sunscreen can wear off. Don’t be a dummy; re-apply generously throughout the day. Also, use a higher SPF to ensure the fullest possible protection. Using a 15 or 20 in the middle of summer is just asking for a severe burn.

Sunscreen is Only Half the Battle

Don’t expect sunscreen to do all your work for you. Dress accordingly, and don’t go out during the most dangerous parts of the day. Generally, from noon to 2:00 p.m. is the most dangerous time of the day to be outside, even with liberal amounts of sunscreen. If you must be out at this time, wear a high SPF and cover as much of your skin as you can stand. With all of the fashionable floppy hats, big bug-eye sunglasses and chic scarves and wraps it should be easy to limit your skin’s exposure to the sunlight, while dressing attractively.

Use common sense in regards to sunscreen. It can be as safe or as dangerous as you make it!

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