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Harmful Ingredients to Avoid in Sunscreen Lotion

By Alba Charles . Updated: January 20, 2017
Harmful Ingredients to Avoid in Sunscreen Lotion

With the summer and the high temperatures approaching, our skin is way more exposed to the sun. In order to maintain the health of our skin and avoid burns, it is very important to choose the correct SPF sunscreen for your skin type. But choosing the right sunscreen lotion is not the only thing to bear in mind when protecting our skin. Many sunscreen lotions contain chemicals that can be harmful for our skin and actually cause more harm. It is important to know which harmful ingredients you should avoid in sunscreen lotion so you can choose wisely how you're going to protect your skin.

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Two main types of sun protection lotion

To start with, it is important to note that there are two main types of sun lotion, physical sunscreen or sunblock, and chemical sunscreen.

  • Sunblock contains natural minerals such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide that cover the skin and literally blocks UVB and UVA rays from penetrating. However, this type of sun protector is very thick and hard to apply, sometimes leaving white traces.
  • Chemical sunscreen, on the other hand, is easier to apply because it is absorbed into the skin. Because it is absorbed it can create more problems such as allergies or skin irritation.

Oxybenzone and octinoxate

This chemical is a penetration enhancer, which means that it helps other chemicals penetrate the skin. When exposed to UV rays it can cause an allergic reaction that might appear similar to an eczema and that can last long after the exposure to the sun has finished. Also, oxybenzone can disrupt hormones and the endocrine system. Instead of oxybenzone, you can look for products that have zinc oxide, 3% avobenzone o Mexoryl SX. They work just as well as oxybenzone when it comes to protect the skin and are not harmful for the body.

Octinoxate, just like oxybenzone, also helps other chemicals penetrate faster into the skin. It is one of the most common ingredients found in sunscreens and it also creates hormonal problems. Furthermore, it can be a culprit for premature aging due to the production of free radicals that damage skin cells.

Vitamin A

Eating foods rich in vitamin A can be good for our body, but spreading it on the skin might not have the same positive effects. Vitamin A in lotions is also called retinyl palmitate or retinol. Data from the US Government has showed that the skin covered in vitamin A is more likely to develop tumours and lesions. More than 15% of the sunscreens contain this chemical, so it's important to read the ingredients and not use any cream that contains vitamin A, retinyl palmitate or retinol.

Harmful Ingredients to Avoid in Sunscreen Lotion - Vitamin A

Homosalate and octocrylene

Homosalate also helps other chemicals penetrate the skin and once it gets absorbed it is very difficult to eliminate from our bodies. Inside our body it becomes toxic and also disrupts the hormones.

Octocrylene is another harmful chemical found in sunscreen lotions. This chemical produces oxygen radicals when exposed to UV light, which can cause mutations and damage skin cells. Also, it is not only harmful for the body but also for the environment.

How to choose the best and safest sunscreen

Besides watching out for the ingredients mentioned above, these steps will help you choose sunscreen wisely and protect your skin:

  • Look for lotions that have titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These two chemicals are found in sunblock and don't penetrate the skin. However, bear in mind that sunblock is usually thicker than chemical sunscreen and can be a bit more difficult to spread on the skin.
  • Choose non-nano products, i.e. lotions that don't have small particles that can penetrate the skin.
  • Pick unscented lotions or those that use essential oils as perfume.
  • Pick water-resistant lotions. This is important if you go to the beach or the swimming pool but also if you're only using it while walking on the street, as it will protect your skin even if you sweat.
  • Pick lotions that protect both against UVA and UVB rays.

To ensure the health of your skin and prevent tumours, melanoma and other skin conditions it is very important to protect your skin from the sun at all times.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Harmful Ingredients to Avoid in Sunscreen Lotion, we recommend you visit our Family health category.

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