What's Hiding in Your Sunscreen?


Today, more than 5 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer every year. According to the Journal of American Medical Association, 1 in 5 Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime. This DRAMATIC increase, within the last decade, has taken place despite the fact that Americans are getting FAR LESS time in the sun and sunscreen sales have continued to soar.

So, what is to blame for this huge increase in skin cancer?

Since sunscreens haven’t been regulated since 1978, many researchers are beginning to look at what exactly is hiding in this lotion we lather on for protection.

According to research from the Environmental Working Group, “ Our review…shows that some sunscreen ingredients absorb into the blood, and some have toxic effects. Some release skin-damaging free radicals in sunlight, some act like estrogen and disrupt hormones, and several can cause allergic reactions and skin irritation. The FDA has not established rigorous safety standards for sunscreen ingredients. “

One highly researched and well known toxin found in most sunscreens is Oxybenzone. Oxybenzone is a synthetic estrogen, found in many "broad-spectrum" suncreens. It has been shown to penetrate the skin and reak havoc on your natural hormones. Although Oxybenzone isn't the the only bad guy, it is certainly the most researched.

Other ingredients to avoid include:

  • Para amino benzoic acid
  • Octyl salicyclate
  • Cinoxate
  • Dioxybenzone
  • Phenylbenzimidazole
  • Menthyl anthranilate
  • Octocrylene
  • Methoxycinnamate
  • Parabens

Products made with zinc oxide, 3% avobenzone or Mexoryl SX are usually a safer alternative, as they do not breakdown in sunlight and are not usually absorbed (so they are less likely to disrupt hormones). They are also less likely to be allergenic and are more effective at blocking UVA rays than those containing oxybenzone.

Tips to Stay Safe in the Sun

  • Increase your consumption of foods high in Anti-oxidants (vitamins A, C, and E) and Omega-3 Fatty Acids to preventatively protect your skin!
  • Get at least 20 minutes of sunshine daily- It is especially important for us sunshine-deprived Minnesotans to get outside every day. Endless benefits of Vitamin D have been proven in study after study, including better mental and bone health, reduced risk of falling in the elderly and even prevention of diseases like colon cancer, MS, osteoarthritis and insulin resistance.
  • Cover up your skin with light sun protection clothing. Many clothing outfitters, such as REI, are now making UV protection clothing for all ages!
  • Wear natural sunscreen if you’re going to stay out for a longer period of time.
    • See how your sunscreen rates according to the EWG here and which alternatives to switch to.
    • If you're feeling brave, try out this easy DIY recipe!


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Litchfield Chiropractic Center
126 North Sibley Avenue
Litchfield, MN 55355
(320) 693-3655