Usually sunscreen products are real chemical cocktails that we carefully apply on our skin aiming in fact to protect ourselves. If you read the list of ingredients on one of the sunscreen you have home, you might feel like at chemistry class. 

In my opinion sun protectors are one of the most worrying cosmetic products in terms of potential impact their ingredients can have on our health.



Example of chemical UV filters contained in sunscreens and potential risks for our health:

Titanium Dioxide (nano): it is especially problematic when it is nano, containing nanoparticles that can cross the skin barrier and accumulate in the body. Sunburned skin facilitates in fact as well the penetration of the nanoparticles that are potential endocrine disruptors and potentially carcinogenic.

Octocrylene: is allergenic and in some cases causes sun allergies, it is also suspected endocrine disruptor.

Homosalate: suspected of being an endocrine disruptor.

Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate: this UV filter is an endocrine disruptor


Besides CHEMICAL UV filters the sunscreen products contain preservatives like for example phenoxyethanol that is toxic for liver and blood. It is suspected to have effects on hormones and fertility. It is eye irritant. Sometimes it is allergenic. Quite scaring isn’t it? And it is part of a well known children sun screen product.

We can find these types of ingredients even if on the packaging are indicated:

  • Bio/organic: they might contain some ingredients that are organic plus chemical UV filters, preservatives etc 
  • For children: even the products for children usually contain chemical UV filters and other doubtful ingredients
  • Mineral UV filters: besides mineral UV filters sunscreens might contain chemical UV filters plus other doubtful ingredients 
  • Coral reef friendly: It is known that chemicals contained in sun protectors have a negative impact on sea life. In some regions local authorities are banning sun protectors containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. Still, you might find in their composition other ingredients that have doubtful effect on our health.



There are as well MINERAL UV filters like Titanium dioxide and Zinc oxide.

Which is the difference? Chemical UV sun screeners are absorbed into skin and they absorb as well the UV rays converting them into heat. When you apply them, they will quickly be absorbed by the skin and there will be no trace of white on the skin.

Mineral UV sun screeners are staying on the surface of the skin and are reflecting the UV rays. When you apply them, you will have to insist. They will leave white or sandy colour spots on the skin. These are usually the products we buy once and then we prefer not to have anymore since there are other options that are quickly absorbed. We don’t like the white traces on our skin. Right?


Which are the mineral filters used in the sunscreen products?

Usually we would find: Titanium dioxide and Zinc Oxide.

Titanium dioxide: It is considered that when it is not nano it will not penetrate the skin barrier. So, theoretically we should not worry. However, when the skin is damaged by sun, then there might be a risk. It is proven carcinogen by inhalation and should be avoided in sprays and aerosols. It is a very controversial ingredient and I try to avoid it as much as possible even when it is not nano.

Zinc Oxide usually is used in cosmetics as a white colorant. It was approved as UV filter in cosmetics only in 2014. I try to avoid it in my cosmetics since not well tolerated by my skin.  


What do I do to protect the skin?

I try to find the best solution I can even if it is not ideal. 

I avoid all products that contain nanoparticles, especially dioxide de titanium nano. It is easy to be detected since you would see the indication of (nano) at the beginning or at the end of the ingredient. These molecules are very small, they penetrate the skin and also increase the penetration of other harmful ingredients. Then they can accumulate in our bodies. 

I prefer sun screeners containing mineral filters and I check the list of all ingredients to avoid other doubtful preservatives etc. I have an app that helps taking quick decisions. I scan and I see quickly the result.

I am looking for creams that protects against UVA and UVB rays. These are two types of sun rays that harmful for our skin. 

I recommend checking each time you buy the product even if you did it before. I have bought this year the children sunscreen I knew it is good and we had it last year. In fact, when I have received it by post, I have discovered that now it contains dioxide de titanium in NANO. I knew that their adult version was with nano, but now they changed it for children products as well. What a deception!


I use other ways to protect: hats, clothes with SPF 50 protection etc.

Sun protection creams were invented 80 years ago only. As you understand it was possible once the chemical industry has started to develop. I was wondering how humanity was protecting itself before 1940? There are vegetable oils like raspberry oil that has an SPF protection of 28-50. I use it in my daily summer skin care (see my post about it) however I would not rely only on it. I still apply the mineral sunscreen when I have to be at sun and no way to avoid it. 

For me sun protection is important since it prevents skin aging, skin damaging and health issues. I also have written about my experience on heavy sunburn at only 19C. I will not underestimate the power of sun in the future.

Let’s enjoy the sunny days all year long being well protected.


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