As we enter the summer season, protecting your skin from harmful UV rays should (hopefully) become a top priority for you. As soon as the sun appears, we know that it can be all too tempting to be desperate to get a sun tan, particularly if you’ve had a long, cold, dark winter! However, choosing not to use sunscreen in a bid to get a quick tan, or using toxic sunscreen, can have detrimental effects on both your health and the aging process.
While some sun is critical for our overall health, in the heat of the day sunscreen is your secret weapon for healthy, radiant skin. But not all sunscreens are created equal, and the more I learned about this the more shocked I was at how few sunscreens I could find that I loved the consistency of. It's essential to be in the know about what’s really in your sunscreen and what it might be doing to your body. So behind the scenes, we've been pouring our hearts into creating a product that not only shields your skin but also nourishes it to perfection with our (coming soon!) very own non-toxic sunscreen. Stay tuned!
Now, before you hit the beach, let's get a dose of knowledge on sun safety. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Melanoma, a form of skin cancer, ranks as the 19th most common cancer worldwide for both men and women, as reported by the World Cancer Research Fund. And while some of us know that, many of us think that reaching for the sunscreen is the solution.
The truth? The FDA's recent findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), confirmed what the holistic health world has been talking about for a while. A pilot study conducted by the agency revealed that four popular chemical sunscreen filters—avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, and ecamsule—were absorbed into the bloodstream after just a single day of use. Understanding these different chemicals can help you understand why you don’t want them absorbed into your skin and why you REALLY need to be reaching for a non-toxic sunscreen.
First up, the big problems out of these four mainly lie with:
- Oxybenzone: Oxybenzone, as observed in many scientific studies, emerges as the most concerning active ingredient in sunscreens. It is easily absorbed through the skin, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention detecting it in nearly all Americans, particularly those who frequently apply sunscreen. Known for its ability to absorb both UVA and UVB rays, oxybenzone has raised concerns due to its potential hormone-disrupting effects. Research has shown a potential link between oxybenzone and lower testosterone levels in adolescent boys, hormone changes in men, and shorter pregnancies and disrupted birth weights in babies. In a 2008 Swiss study, researchers discovered oxybenzone, along with four other sunscreen chemicals, in a staggering 85% of breast milk samples. A 2010 study also found another of the studied chemicals, octinoxate, in breast milk. Both of these findings raised significant concern about potential exposure of newborns to these substances. This sits alongside a 2008 study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who analyzed urine samples and found oxybenzone in 97% of the samples. In addition to this, a 10-year study found that of all the sunscreen ingredients, oxybenzone is known to be the most common cause of contact allergies.
- Octocrylene: Octocrylene readily absorbs into the skin and may have adverse effects on aquatic life. Contamination with benzophenone, a carcinogen, is a concern too. The European Commission considers concentrations of up to 10 percent as safe but Octocrylene readily absorbs through the skin at levels about 14 times the FDA cutoff for systemic exposure.
- Avobenzone: Widely used for UVA protection, avobenzone can cause allergic reactions and has shown endocrine-disrupting properties. Avobenzone also has the potential to interfere with testosterone, as observed in cellular studies. In fact, one study even found that avobenzone was detected in samples at levels nine times higher than the FDA's cutoff for systemic exposure.
It’s not just these chemicals from the pilot study, however, that we would be better off avoiding. There are a ton of other chemicals that also warrant attention, including:
- Octisalate: This UV filter is absorbed through the skin at levels exceeding the FDA's safety threshold. It has been linked to allergic contact dermatitis.
- Octinoxate: An organic UV filter, which also needs attention. It is readily absorbed by the skin, with ongoing absorption even after sunscreen application and studies have detected octinoxate in blood samples at levels 16 times higher than the proposed safety threshold set by the FDA!! Research has indicated that octinoxate has the potential to disrupt thyroid hormone function. A study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment highlighted the concerning effects of octinoxate on thyroid health. Animal studies have provided insights into the hormone-disrupting effects of this chemical on the metabolic system, particularly its impact on thyroid hormone production. Additionally, there is evidence suggesting its influence on other endocrine targets, such as androgen and progesterone signaling.
- Homosalate: Also widely used in U.S. sunscreens, homosalate has raised concerns due to its potential to penetrate the skin, disrupt hormones, and produce toxic breakdown by-products over time. The European Commission recommends a maximum concentration of 1.4 percent, while the FDA allows concentrations up to 15 percent.
So is this a global problem? Sadly, not so much. The European Union has made strides in sun protection by replacing oxybenzone with newer, more protective substances that block out dangerous UVB and UVA rays. However, these products are still undergoing safety tests required for FDA approval. As a result, oxybenzone continues to be used in two-thirds of chemically-based sunscreens sold in the United States, according to a report by the EWG.
We can't forget about the environmental impact either. Sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate have been banned in Hawaii, the Pacific nation of Palau, and Key West due to their harmful effects on coral reefs and marine ecosystems.
It's crucial that we choose sunscreens that are safe for both ourselves and the environment. So, what's the solution? First up, understanding that knowledge is power. Next, it’s about making changes in our product choice (and of course, opting for the Agent sunscreen as soon as we launch).
But, for now, The Environmental Working Group (EWG), an authority on sunscreen safety, recommends opting for mineral sunscreens containing titanium dioxide and zinc oxide when possible. These ingredients provide effective protection without the potential risks associated with certain chemical filters. At Agent Nateur, you know we’re ALL in and super passionate about protecting your skin and your overall well-being too. That's why we're excited to announce that our own non-toxic mineral-based sunscreen will soon hit the market. Say goodbye to harmful ingredients and hello to safe, effective sun protection, Agent Nateur style. Expect glowing, nourished AND protected skin.
Let’s start a sunscreen revolution together.
***THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN APPROVED OR REGULATED BY THE FDA. WE ARE NOT DOCTORS, THEREFORE ALWAYS CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR FIRST***