Sun screen, we’ve all been told at some point to put it on otherwise we’ll get skin cancer. Yes sunburn isn’t something you want to be inflicting on yourself but have you ever thought about what’s in the sun screen you’re covering your face and body with? Is it a harmless skin sun protector or a toxic chemical concoction that could be doing you more harm than good? There are two types; chemical sun screen and mineral based sunscreen. Which one do you use?
What is Chemical Sun Screen?
The most common ingredients in chemical or non-mineral sun cream are ones you probably can’t pronounce (which is often a clue it’s not that great for you!). Usually two or more of the following chemicals would be used –
- menthyl anthranilate
What are the side effects of chemical sun screen?
Although these chemicals are considered important ingredients to turn a cream into a sun cream or lotion they come with their own health side effects. They are easily absorbed into the body having detrimental effects predominantly on the endocrine system. This means they can disrupt hormone balance, namely oestrogen – not a good thing. Due to this I definitely would not recommend these as good sun screens for children and babies.
Other non-mineral sun screen side effects are –
- Release free radicals when the cream breaks down in sunlight – we’ve all heard of the dangers of free radical damage and potential links to cancer
- Potential to cause allergic reactions
- Can cause skin irritation
What is Mineral Sun Screen?
Mineral sun screen contains the active ingredients zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Your skin is protected from UVA and UVB rays simply by the physical barrier they create, reflecting the sun’s rays. It’s also not absorbed into your body – very important.
The main points to remember for mineral sun creams are;
- Not easily absorbed into the body
- Do not effect hormone balance
- Usually non allergenic
- Non free radical forming in sun light
So this is why I would recommend you use this type on your babies and children.
I have to add that a link has been mentioned to titanium dioxide and the exacerbation of inflammatory bowel conditions. This was only in high doses however and not in the amounts you’d use in a normal mineral sun screen. Titanium dioxide is an ingredient in some tablets and is more likely to be a risk than when used in sun scream.
What about using Coconut Oil for sun protection?
I’m sure you’ve heard of people using coconut oil as a form of sun protection. It does naturally have an SPF of 4 which blocks 75% of UV radiation. Personally though I don’t think this is strong enough to adequately protect you from the Australian sun. It’s a great added ingredient in any mineral based sun cream however.
What are Nano Particles and Micro Particles in sun lotion?
Simply put nano particles are easily absorbed through your skin and micro particles aren’t. If a chemical is in nano particle form then it will pass into your blood stream. Many chemical sun lotions contain nano particles and mineral ones have micro particles. Another reason for you to use only mineral types!