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On Choosing Sunscreens

by Marianne Navada

It started in Hawaii, and now more reef-rich destinations are proposing a ban on sunscreens made with non-biodegradable ingredients. The chemicals banned are oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are killing coral reefs.

Avoiding toxic ingredients is not just good for sea life, but a recent study shows that sunscreen, when applied on the skin doesn’t just stay on the surface. It seeps through the bloodstream in a matter of hours.

Research funded by the FDA shows that it took only a few hours for the “photoprotective chemicals to infiltrate the bloodstream.

What Does This All Mean?

Right now, we don’t know yet how sunscreen ingredients in our bloodstream are affecting our health, but the invasive nature of sunblock is a reminder that it’s best to stick to more natural and non-toxic ingredients.

The Environmental Working Group Guide to Sunscreen makes the process of choosing the right sunscreen for you less complicated.

  • Safe ingredients: titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
  • Unsafe for use: PABA and Trolamine salicylate
  • Avoid: Oxybenzone
  • Look for both UVA and UVB protection.
  • Don’t be fooled by higher SPF number. In fact, the FDA is proposing to limit SPF to 60.
  • For now, stick to creams and lotions and avoid sprays. More testing needs to be done on spray sunscreens, from effectiveness to inhalation risks.

Gisele Bundchen on Sunscreen

I do use sunblock but I also try my best not to be exposed to the sun when it is too strong.

Gisele Bundchen

When using sunscreens she selects ones that are free of parabens, oxybenzone, PABA, and retinyl palmitate…she buys her sunscreen at Whole Foods, so she can find ones that are free of harsh chemicals.

Gisele’s Representative
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