Is the sunscreen you use toxic?

Is the sunscreen you are using toxic?

Now that the warm sunny weather has arrived and we are in the lead up to our summer holidays in the sun, we’ll be looking to use sunscreen products to protect our skin. However, the sunscreen that you may be about to buy and put on your skin and your children’s skin is likely to  contain harmful and toxic chemicals that might actually do more harm than good.  So it will be important to choose one that doesn’t contain harmful products.

When we are looking at ingredients in food and also skin products we need to become what I call a “label detective”. It is all too easy to make the assumption that just because a product is available on the market that it must contain all good ingredients, but that isn’t the reality in life.

You see what you put on your body is just as important as what you put in it! Your skin is your largest organ. It is also  your body’s protective barrier against the outside environment. Our skin absorbs much of what we put on it, so this means that harmful chemicals in body products, including those in sunscreens, can enter your bloodstream and circulate throughout your body. This causes damage to your immune and endocrine systems. When it comes to your children and protecting their health this is even more important.  You see children are smaller in size and this means that their skin presents a larger surface area relative to their body weight for absorption of environmental substances. In addition, their endocrine system and in some cases, immune system, are still developing.

Like many other body products popular sunscreens contain an alarming number of toxins. The EWG (Environmental Working Group in the USA) has recently has recently written a report on the toxins in sunscreens.

To make safe and educated buying decisions I would advise you to check sunscreen labels for the most common and concerning ingredients. These are listed below:


Parabens are a group of synthetic compounds commonly added to cosmetics and body products because they prevent the growth of fungus and bacteria.

There are six types of parabens most commonly used in personal care products: methylparaben, ethylparabenpropylparabenisobutylparaben, butylparaben and benzylparaben.

Parabens are easy to spot on product labels because they end in “paraben.”

They are dangerous because, like so many ingredients in this list, they disrupt hormone functions, potentially leading to increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity.


This is also readily absorbed via the skin and also disrupts your endocrine system by mimicking hormonal activity that can affect the reproductive system and your thyroid gland.


This chemical absorbs and filters UV light and is therefore a common ingredient in sunscreen, despite causing relatively high rates of skin allergies. It also penetrates the skin at very high rates and acts like oestrogen once it enters your bloodstream, disrupting your endocrine system,  reducing sperm production, and potentially causing endometriosis.


This common ingredient is used because it helps the sunscreen to penetrate your skin and disrupts hormone balances. It can accumulate in your body faster than your body can detoxify it through your liver. It lingers in your body and results in increasing the levels of toxins in your body.

Retinyl Palmitate

This is a form of Vitamin A.  It is used in quite a large number of sunscreens and moisturisers that contain SPF and also similarly in lip balms, because it is believed to slow skin aging. But, when exposed to sunlight, it has been shown to speed up the development of malignant cells and skin tumours because UV rays cause the compound to break down and produce destructive free radicals


This is easily absorbed by the skin and produces free radicals that can cause mutations and damage cells when exposed to UV rays.

Safe Alternatives to Toxic Sunscreens are those that are mineral based and contain a good level of zinc oxide 15-20% or more. You are best to look for those that contain any of the following oils Coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter and olive oil.

Here is a list of natural and “no nasties” Sunscreens (not exhaustive)

Badger Healthy Body Care Sunscreens
Green People Sunscreens
Natural Wisdom Antioxidant Sunscreen (launching Spring 2019)
For Additional Sun Protection

UV protective clothing such as UV protective swimwear, t-shirts and shorts, hats and sunglasses. are essential for children as the protection they offer does not vary and continues after washing and while wet. Babies and children are much more vulnerable to UV skin damage. offer lots of choice for UV sun protection clothing for children and adults.

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