Crashing waves. Sand warming your toes. Bright rays of the joyful sun. Vibrant laughter floating on the seabreeze, as well as….PSHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhsssssssssssssssst! Oxybenzone entering your lungs…
Without fail, each summer, beaches up and down the coasts (and playgrounds, sporting events, picnic areas, and campsites across the country) are infiltrated with families who insist upon using spray sunscreen. The invention of sunscreen in a can revolutionized the sunscreen application process. Parents of wriggly, excited children everywhere found a quick, simple way to protect their children’s skin. But did they?
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FACT: the active ingredients in most sunscreens are known hormone disruptors.
What you put on your skin DOES enter the body. The skin is your largest organ, after all! The three major hormone disruptors found in sunscreens (among a host of “lesser” disruptors), Benzophenone-3 (oxybenzone), Octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC), and Padimate O, can enter the bloodstream and organs, causing hormone disruption, thyroid effects, and/or immune effects. If you’re unsure of why you should be concerned about hormone disruption, read my post on epigenetics.
FACT: sunscreen ingredients were never meant to be inhaled.
This is seemingly common sense, yet parents spraying sunscreen in their children’s faces clearly haven’t heard the news. The instructions for spray sunscreen explicitly state to spray on one’s hands before application, so the industry is admitting on their packaging that spraying this substance is unsafe. Even mineral or natural sunscreen ingredients aren’t supposed to end up in your lungs.
FACT: instructions on bottles of spray sunscreen explicitly warn against getting the product in one’s eyes or ingesting it.
If either occurs, medical help or the Poison Control Center should be contacted (it says so on the package). A general rule of thumb when dealing with ingredients is: if it’s unsafe to get in your mouth or eyes, you probably don’t want it in the air, either.
FACT: not all sunscreen prevents skin cancer.
Only broad-spectrum sunscreen protects against both UVA & UVB rays. Some sunscreens may keep you from turning into a lobster, but still allow damage to skin cells by only blocking UVB rays.
FACT: there is evidence that ingredients in sunscreens may CAUSE skin cancer.
I talked about this a bit in my post, Don’t Fear the Sun. Toxic ingredients in many sunscreens are actually carcinogenic. Slather them over your body and apply heat? That’s a recipe for later health issues.
FACT: the best way to avoid harm from sun exposure is to stay out of the sun during peak hours & wear clothing that covers the skin.
It’s simple. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends it, the FDA recommends it, and even YOUR SUNSCREEN MANUFACTURER (take a look at the bottle) recommends it: stay out of the sun. If you want to prevent damage to your skin, don’t expect a topical agent to do the trick.
The Bottom Line:
Stop buying spray-on sunscreen, using it on your children, and polluting the air for those around you. (You might end up lighting yourself on fire, even.)
Do Better: Read my Top Picks for Natural, Safe Sunscreens
I’ve got eight options (and one’s a spray!) that work GREAT!