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Sunscreen Ingredients to Avoid This Summer

As summer approaches, and with it all of the outdoor activity that comes with sunny days and warm weather, it is important to ensure that you have a proper sunscreen for daily use. While sunscreen is intended to keep our skin safe from burning and help reduce the risk of skin cancer, there are plenty of suspect ingredients that can do more harm than good when it comes to the protection of our skin.

Of the 16 active ingredients found in sunscreens today, 14 ingredients have some sort of controversy either by the FDA, AAP, or other organizations that are looking after our health. While this seems overwhelming, there are solid ingredients out there that can help you remain safe under the sun.

At Dynamic Dermatology, we want you to have the best skin possible. That all starts with proper sunscreen usage!

Choosing the Right Ingredients

The two ingredients that are universally accepted as safe are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These two are the only ingredients that have FDA approval, and are the only natural ingredients in sunscreen. Both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are naturally occurring minerals. Instead of penetrating into the skin, both ingredients sit on top of the skin and create an effective barrier, reflecting the UVA and UVB rays from the sun. 

When looking for sunscreen, be sure that zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the primary ingredients.

Avoiding the Wrong Ingredients

Just as there are safe ingredients in sunscreen, there are also harmful ingredients. It is important to know which sunscreen ingredients to avoid. Here are 5 ingredients that are generally accepted as unsafe for use:

  1. Any insect repellants. A lot of sunscreens combine as insect repellents due to the fact that in warm, humid areas it is not only sunny, but a common area for bugs. However, sunscreens are meant to be applied often, and liberally and repeatedly applying insect repellants is not good for the skin.
  2. Oxybenzone. Also called benzophenone-3 or BP-3, oxybenzone is linked to cancer, allergies (including allergies caused by light exposure), and endocrine disruption. On top of health issues to the user, oxybenzone is also detrimental to aquatic environments. Even a single drop of oxybenzone can wreak havoc on local coral and fish populations.
  3. Octinoxate. Octinoxate blocks UVB rays but does not block UVA rays. It also causes endocrine disruption and has links to reproductive toxicity (affects sexual funtion and fertility). The ingredient is also banned in Key West and Hawaii due to its negative impact on aquatic wildlife. 
  4. Avobenzone. Avobenzone is insufficient on its own and actually requires more chemical ingredients just to function properly. Even at that point, Avobenzone only has about 30 minutes of protection, so before you know it you’re already being overly exposed to the sun’s rays. Avobenzone also has links to hormone disruption, cancer, and acceleration of aging processes. 
  5. Octisalate. Octisalate is used because it is a water-resistant ingredient. This means it won’t wash out when you’re in pools or the ocean. However, this causes pores to clog and traps sweat, makeup, and other products to the skin, potentially leading to breakout issues. As with other toxic ingredients, it is harmful to the aquatic environment as well. 

Stay Safe Out There!

At Dynamic Dermatology, we want to make sure you have a great summer. That starts by using the proper sunscreen in order to mitigate cancer risks, protect the skin from burning, and maintain a healthy appearance. Be sure to use sunscreens with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, and avoid the wrong ingredients listed above. 

If you have any questions about sunscreen, feel free to give Dynamic Dermatology a call! We would love to assist in any way possible and prepare you for a great summer of beaches, barbecues, and beautiful skin!

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