What’s in your sunscreen?
Chemicals long used in sunblock are under new scrutiny — and may signal it’s time to start reaching for alternatives.
Some of these chemicals enter the bloodstream at a rate that should require additional safety data, according to a preliminary study published earlier this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The four chemicals — avobenzone, oxybenzone, ecamsule and octocrylene — are among the 12 ingredients that the FDA recently flagged in its efforts to update sunscreen regulations. The administration has proposed new rules that would encourage manufacturers to research these chemicals before the government deems them “generally regarded as safe and effective.”
Mineral sunscreens, as opposed to chemical sunscreens, are a better bet, says Upper East Side dermatologist Michele Green. They contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide — which the FDA has deemed generally safe and effective.
They physically block both UVA rays (those that can cause premature aging) and UVB rays (the ones responsible for burns), providing a shield on the surface of skin, instead of absorbing the sun’s rays as chemical sunscreens do.
And while Green would prefer folks — especially those under the age of 21 — slather on mineral-based blockers, she cautions that a chemical sunscreen is still safer than no protection at all.
“Should you throw it away? No, you absolutely need it to protect you against skin cancer,” says Green. “On average, a person’s risk of melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns.”
Looking for some more guidance as you rethink your sunscreen supply?
Last week, the Environmental Working Group released its annual guide to safe sunscreens. The watchdog group’s researchers found that two-thirds of the more than 1,300 sunscreens on the market either don’t provide enough protection or contain ingredients that are especially worrisome — such as oxybenzone, which may have hormone-disrupting qualities dangerous for kids. You can type in the name of your sunscreen at EWG.org to see how it ranked and get a full ingredient breakdown.
Mineral sunscreen’s only con? Its reputation for leaving an unbecoming white film on the skin.
“But I would rather have that than cancer,” says Green, adding that the film makes it easier to see where you’ve applied it. “It’s a good way to know your skin is really protected.”
Some sunscreen makers have created mineral formulas that offset the dreaded opaque white hue without sacrificing protection.
Here are some of our favorites:
CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen
Clean Screen Mineral Mattifying Face Sunscreen
Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense
Elta MD Broad Spectrum SPF 30
And don’t forget your lips. Try Elta MD Lip Block or Brush on Block Protective Lip Oil.
Originally Posted on 5/26/19 by the New York Post