In the old days, children would play in the sun while the adults sat under the sun without minding its rays. As the years went by, it was discovered that the sun wasn’t that good for our skin and things became a bit different. We started buying sunscreen lotions to offer protection to our skin. In the cosmetic world, there aren’t any federal regulations defining the use of the words “natural” or “green”. As it turns out, some of the ingredients in these sunscreens are causing harm to our health and definitely hurting the environment. So, what ingredients should you avoid when buying sunscreen.


This is a type of penetration enhancer that helps chemicals to penetrate the skin. When exposed to UV rays, oxybenzone causes a chemical reaction. When the body absorbs oxybenzone it can cause an eczema-like reaction that potentially spreads past the exposed area and last long. Additionally, experts say that oxybenzone disrupts hormones through mimicking, altering and blocking their levels which can cause issues to the endocrine system.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that 97 percent of Americans have this chemical circulating in their bodies because it accumulates more than the bodies can get rid of it. Also, the ingredient is banned in Hawaii due to the harm it has caused to coral reefs.

Retinal Palmitate

This can be classified as a type of vitamin A and a powerful antioxidant. However, when used in a sunscreen product, it functions to improve product performance against the aging effects of sunlight exposure. However, when retinal palmitate is exposed to the sun’s UV rays, it breaks down to produce destructive free radicals toxic to the cells. These free radicals can damage DNA and lead to cancer. What’s more, the FDA studies show that retinal palmitate can speed the development of malignant cells and skin tumor when applied to the skin even before exposure to the sun. Therefore, you need to stay clear of any sunscreen product that harbors such ingredient.


This happens to be one of the commonly used ingredients in almost all the sunscreens. Octinoxate is easily absorbed by the skin and it helps other ingredients to be absorbed more quickly. It also disrupts hormone; it mostly affects estrogen which can be harmful to humans and wildlife too when they come into contact with the chemical once it gets into the water. Since sunscreens products help protect the body against sun-induced aging, octinoxate may lead to premature aging and can also produce menacing free radicals that can damage skin and cells.

Paraben Preservatives

These preservatives are associated with both acute and chronic side effects and can induce allergic reactions, hormonal disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity. According to recent reports, paraben ingredients in underarms cosmetic can cause breast cancer.


This chemical when exposed to sunlight, it absorbs the rays and produces oxygen radicals which damage the body cells and causes mutation. The ingredient is easily absorbed by the skin, thus accumulate in the body in large quantities. It also causes toxic effects when it gets in the water.


Just like most of the above ingredients, homosalate is easily absorbed by the body and helps other sunscreens to penetrate the skin. The rate at which the body absorbs this ingredient is very high compared to how it gets eliminated. As a consequence, it becomes toxic and disrupts the hormones. Any product containing this ingredient should be avoided completely.


Basically, the main issue with products that contain this ingredient is the high rates of skin irritation. As opposed to most of the ingredients mentioned above, avobenzone doesn’t cause hormone disruption. Plus, this product is not sun-stable meaning it has to be mixed with stabilizers to be used as sunblock. Octisalate has moderate toxicity concerns.


This chemical is common in synthetic fragments and can interfere with normal genitalia development since it causes disruption in male hormones. When the chemical level is higher in the body, it can cause sluggish sperm and low testosterone levels. Moreover, it can mess with normal brain functioning and is, therefore, classified as an endocrine disruptor. Although some products aren’t on the list, you should look for products that say they are derived from essential oils.


I know most people are wondering what to use because almost all products contain the above ingredients. According to EWG, mineral sunscreens are way better than chemical sunscreens because they don’t actually go through the skin barrier. Minerals such as titanium and zinc are highly recommended in the making of sunscreens.

All images by Pixabay


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