Is Chemical Sunscreen Really Unhealthy for You? Derms Weigh In


Sunscreen drops

Ah, nothing like the warmth in your pores and skin as you bask within the daylight together with your finest buddies. However as we get pleasure from nature’s bounty, it’s necessary to use sunscreen day by day to guard ourselves in opposition to the solar’s harsh rays.

Nonetheless, with so many choices available on the market, deciding on a sunscreen can really feel overwhelming. Chemical sunscreens are the most well-liked selection, however some declare you must avoid them—that they’re hormone disruptors killing the atmosphere. Yikes. We tapped the specialists and did some digging so that you’ve all of the info earlier than making a choice.


What Is Chemical Sunscreen? 

Chemical sunscreens use chemical compounds to forestall UV rays from coming into your pores and skin by absorbing the rays with a chemical response. “Every time a UV ray causes this response, the molecule of chemical sunscreen is destroyed,” explains Bailey. “It is likely one of the causes that you must reapply sunscreen throughout extended solar publicity—principally, you run out of chemical sunscreen molecules in your pores and skin as they block the solar’s UV rays.” Mineral sunscreens do the identical factor, however they use mineral particles to forestall UV rays from coming into your pores and skin with a mixture of absorbing, scattering, and reflecting the rays.

“Chemical sunscreen additionally wants time to bind together with your pores and skin earlier than it begins working. That is one purpose why we suggest making use of sunscreen 15-Half-hour earlier than solar publicity. This time permits the product to soak up into the highest layer of your pores and skin the place it’ll work,” says Bailey.

Is Chemical Sunscreen Secure? 

A few of the substances in chemical sunscreens may be controversial, and because of this, many individuals keep away from utilizing them and follow mineral sunscreens. As a result of chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the pores and skin, they have an inclination to have a lighter formulation than bodily sunscreens. Nonetheless, additionally they are inclined to have extra chemical substances to supply broad-spectrum protection from UV rays, together with preservatives, dyes, and fragrances, which might trigger pores and skin irritations.

The dermatologists we tapped have differing views on the topic. Peredo is comparatively impartial along with her place on chemical sunscreens. “Sure, chemical sunscreens are protected,” she says. “Most sunscreens which have unsafe chemical compounds are actually banned from getting used. Generally I desire to suggest bodily sunscreens if in case you have delicate pores and skin, allergic reactions to chemical sunscreens, are pregnant, or have melasma, and for infants and kids.”

Bailey, however, has a extra skeptical take relating to chemical sunscreens. “Over the course of my profession, I’ve seen chemical sunscreens fail to supply dependable UV safety for my sufferers below actual use situations,” she says. “I see shock sunburns, tanning, and darkening of freckles throughout their pores and skin exams—all of which point out DNA pores and skin harm.”

“Bodily sunscreens, however, have confirmed far more dependable,” Bailey continues. “The FDA has mentioned that solely two energetic sunscreen substances are acknowledged as protected and efficient: These are the bodily sunscreen UV filters zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. All others, which means all chemical sunscreen UV filters, want additional research. I don’t suggest chemical sunscreens. That mentioned, they’re fashionable and higher than no sunscreen in any respect.”

So, whereas chemical sunscreens are extra available, and infrequently don’t depart a white solid, it’s essential to learn the substances label. “Secure substances to search for in sunscreen are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide,” says Peredo. “Each are protected for the atmosphere. Particularly, zinc oxide acts as a barrier on the pores and skin’s floor and is oftentimes gentler for those who have delicate pores and skin. It is best to keep away from PABA and trolamine salicylate, two chemical compounds that are actually not often utilized in sunblock.”

Moreover, you must look out for avobenzone, octinoxate, mexoryl SX, tinosorb S, and tinosorb M, as they might be dangerous.

The Environmental Controversy Surrounding Chemical Sunscreen

Chemical sunscreens wash off the pores and skin and enter waterways, which is a menace to marine life and corals. Except explicitly acknowledged on the label, chemical sunscreens usually are not coral reef-friendly. Sure locations on this planet, equivalent to Australia, the Galapagos Islands, Hawaii, and now the Virgin Islands, have banned using chemical sunscreens due to this dangerous affect.

“A few of the foremost sunscreen substances used at present which can be recognized to hurt marine life embrace oxybenzone (benzophenone), nano-titanium dioxide and nano-zinc oxide, octinoxate, and octocrylene,” warns Bailey.


Octocrylene is a chemical sunscreen ingredient that, as soon as absorbed into the pores and skin, captures UV rays earlier than they will trigger harm to the underlying pores and skin cells. It will probably additionally assist stabilize chemical sunscreen formulation.

Merchandise We Love 

Alastin SPF 30+ Sunscreen
Alastin Broad Spectrum SPF 30+ Sunscreen $40.00

Alastin’s sunscreen is gentle and moisturizing, but in addition supplies broad-spectrum safety. “[This combination of] cucumber and aloe leaf extract calms the pores and skin and is water resistant, gluten-free, paraben-free, and cruelty-free,” says Peredo. “I like to recommend making use of each two hours except you might be swimming or enjoying sports activities. Then that you must enhance the frequency of functions.”

Citrix Vitamin C Antioxidant Sunscreen
Citrix Vitamin C Antioxidant Sunscreen $33.00

In keeping with Bailey, the mix of the chemical sunscreen ingredient octinoxate with zinc oxide works very well, often rubs in fairly clear, and limits the chemical publicity to only one chemical UV filter.

Alastin HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36
Alastin HydraTint Professional Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36 $55.00

For the face, Peredo recommends Alastin’s HydraTint Professional as a result of it has a chemical block and tint that provides you an additional layer of safety as a result of it displays the solar. Plus, it evens the pores and skin tone. It’s light-weight, supplies broad-spectrum safety, and is oil-free and fragrance-free, so it received’t break you out.

The Remaining Takeaway

There may be nonetheless a whole lot of analysis to be performed relating to whether or not or not chemical sunscreens are protected to make use of. On the finish of the day, you do need to weigh whether or not it is best for you and whether or not you wish to danger exposing your self to a attainable endocrine disruptor.

Fortunately, most skincare manufacturers at present provide each chemical and mineral formulations. Though mineral sunscreens are inclined to really feel heavier and depart a hint, they’re largely non-comedogenic and are usually related to much less antagonistic pores and skin irritations than chemical sunscreen formulations, and thus are a sensible choice for people with acne-prone, oily, or delicate pores and skin sorts.

Leave a reply