Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Scary stuff about sunscreen...

So, I've learned a lot through this bad experience with my recent sunburn/sunscreen irritation. Apparently most sunscreens are not good for your skin, and though they can partially block the sun's harmful rays, they don't block all of them, and usually contain dangerous ingredients that can contribute to skin cancer in the future. One of the worst, and most common ingredients in sunscreen is oxybenzone, which according to various environmental and health associations, "Oxybenzone can trigger allergic reactions, is a potential hormone disruptor and penetrates the skin in relatively large amounts." Reports also highly recommened that you stay away from sunscreens containing Vitamin A or "retinyl palmitate" because of it's proven record of contributing to cancer. "a form of vitamin A, retinyl palmitate, when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight, may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions" (NTP 2009). Fantastic huh? After reading various reports, I'm not at all surprised to find that the sunscreen I used last weekend contained both oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate. Here is what happened to my skin after 5 hours of beachside-sun mixed with the sunscreen:
I just wanted to raise some awareness in case anyone wasn't already familiar with this information. It's hard to find a good sunscreen though, I went to Walgreens yesterday, looked through at least 100 sunscreens, and couldn't find one that satisfied me, even most higher-end ones like neutrogena and aveeno apparently provide "high health concerns, low UVA protection, and contain oxybenzone and sometimes Vitamin A." So i looked up the best, safest sunscreens out there and thought I should share that info. Not sure where you can find all of these but I'll start looking this weekend (I know some are sold at drugstores, and several at Whole Foods and organic shops):

- Badger, Sunscreen for Face and Body, Unscented, SPF 30 (pretty much all the Badger products have really high ratings)
- La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL 50+
- Loving Naturals, Sunscreen, SPF 30+
- Soleo Organics, All Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+
- thinkbaby and thinksport, Sunscreen, SPF 30+
- UV Natural, Sunscreen Sport, SPF 30+
- All Terrain, Aquasport Performance Sunscreen, SPF 30 (I bought some of this a few years ago at Dick's)
- Jason Natural Cosmetics, Sunbrellas: Chemical Free Sunblock, SPF 30+ (they sell this at Walgreens, but were out of it when i was looking)
- L'uvalla Certified Organic, SPF 20 Sunscreen Face/Body

Some more common ones were high up on the list too, such as:
- Coppertone, Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50
- CVS Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide, SPF 45+
- Olay Complete All Day Moisture Cream, SPF 15, Sensitive Skin

But I would stay away from Panama Jack, Banana Boat, Ocean Potion and Hawaiian Tropic :(

Check out the full list here: http://www.ewg.org/2010sunscreen/
One last note: SPF probably doesn't mean what you think it does. The number basically just corresponds to the amount of time you can spend in the sun without burning (theoretically). An SPF of 50 only provides 1% to 2% more protection than an SPF 30, unless it contains additional ingredients to protect you from UVA rays, in addition to UVB (though according to the FDA, UVA protection is maxed out at SPF 15... yikes). A dermatology site recommends the following: "A good broad-spectrum sunscreen should have an SPF of at least 15 and contain avobenzone, titanium dioxide, or zinc oxide." Who knew dude? who knew...


Laura said...

This is insane! and informative. I can't believe that happened to you. It hasn't caused scaring has it?

Juge said...

Well, it's hard to tell yet, but everything actually looks worse now. It all turned really red or brown, and some of the blisters (like bad ones on hip and knee) peeled off and look like they'll be scars. So nasty. I bet people think i have some kind of gross disease.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the heads up. I usually use Jason's but I've been using Alba Botanica lately. One of those "natural" brands from Whole Foods. I just looked at it and it has Oxybenzone. Needless to say I'm trashing it and going back to Jason's.

Juge said...

Ha, yeah i actually got some alba too from whole foods, it didn't have the oxy in it, but next time i'll get Jason's. They were just out of the one i wanted. Natch.

Alyse said...

Holy crap I had no idea! That's so scary and I'm trashing my aveeno spray as we speak.

Anonymous said...

I realize this happened a long time ago and this might be a silly question, but did you ever end up seeing a doctor or a dermatologist for the rash you had? It really looks like sunbather's rash which is secondary to exposure to sealice in the sea or ocean water. We even have it in the bay over here.

Jessika Lindstrom said...

My daughter just developed a sunscreen allergy. It took 3 doctors and a dermatologist to figure it out. How long did it take for your rash to go away?