Tag Archives: Sunscreen Ingredients

Best and Worst Sunscreen Ingredients

You know you need to apply sunscreen every day to protect against damage from the sun’s harmful UV rays. You may even be an individual that dutifully applies sunscreen before heading outside no matter what season it is. However, there are some ingredients in sunscreens that could be doing more harm than good. We’ve rounded up a list of the very worst sunscreen ingredients that you should avoid at all costs, and their counterparts, the very best and beneficial sunscreen ingredients.

Worst Sunscreen Ingredients

Chemical formula of Oxybenzone

Oxybenzone
Oxybenzone is almost always number one of the list of ingredients you should be avoiding when it comes to your sunscreen. This ingredient is in your sunscreen because it is a chemical that helps other chemicals penetrate the skin more effectively. However, while it does help other ingredients penetrate the skin, it also absorbs into the skin and can create allergic reactions or eczema-like symptoms. Unfortunately, that isn’t the worst of what oxybenzone does. Skin care experts and doctors believe that oxybenzone circulates in your system and mimics, blocks and changes the level of hormones in your body.

Octinoxate
This is one of the most common ingredients in sunscreen and like oxybenzone, it helps other chemicals be absorbed by your skin. Unlike oxybenzone, octinoxate is rarely a cause of allergic reactions, but it is still a dangerous ingredient. Most people wear sun protection in order to prevent signs of premature aging, but octinoxate may enhance premature aging as it creates free radicals. Additionally, octinoxate is another sunscreen ingredient that disrupts the hormone levels in the body.

Chemical formula of  Retinyl Palmitate

Retinyl Palmitate
Also known as Vitamin A, this ingredient is an antioxidant added to sunscreens. And while antioxidants are generally great for your skin, there is a major problem when it comes to retinyl palmitate. When this antioxidant is exposed to the sun, it breaks down and creates dangerous free radicals. Free radicals are destructive and may be linked to cancer as they are toxic to cells and damage your DNA. In fact, studies conducted by the Food and Drug Administration suggest that retinyl palmitate can accelerate the development of malignant cells and skin tumors.

Best Sunscreen Ingredients

Woman applying sunscreen

Zinc Oxide
Zinc oxide is a common ingredient in physical sunscreens. It is an inorganic compound that protects mainly against UVA rays. When used in a sunscreen, zinc oxide is a very finely milled powder and famously results in the white cast that physical sunscreens often leave.

Woman pouring sunscreen in her hands.

Titanium Dioxide
Titanium dioxide is the other most common ingredient in physical sunscreens. It is also widely used in the cosmetic industry and has a variety of uses. The reason that titanium dioxide is most helpful in sunscreens is that it actually absorbs UV rays produced by the sun. It is a highly stable sunscreen ingredient that helps your skin remain protected from the sun.

It does not matter if you prefer physical or chemical sunscreen, but it should be worn before exposing yourself to the sun. When reading ingredients be sure to avoid the worst ingredients to keep yourself as healthy as possible. If using  chemical sunscreen be sure to apply 20 minutes prior to sun exposure and reapply every two hours or after immersing yourself in water. And, of course don’t forget to enjoy the sunshine (safely!).

Sunscreen Active Ingredients Explained – Vine Vera Reviews

You know that you are supposed to use sunscreen every single day even during those months where the sun is scarce. Using a sunscreen protects your skin against damage from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Damage can be in the form of sunburn, sun spots, premature wrinkles or even skin cancer. However, what you may not know is what exactly the active ingredients in sunscreen are or how they protect your skin against all of the aforementioned types of damage. We explain here what the active ingredients in sunscreens really do.

In a document that gives consumers important information about sunscreens, the Environmental Protection Agency states that “[b]road spectrum sunscreens often contain a number of chemical ingredients that absorb UVA and UVB radiation.” In addition to chemical compounds that provide sun protection, there are also physical compounds that work a bit differently and are frequently referred to as sun blocks. The physical compounds zinc oxide and titanium dioxide scatter, reflect and absorb both UVA and UVB rays.

Woman spraying sunscreen on her legs.

Chemical Sunscreens
The majority of people applying sunscreens are using a chemical sunscreen, and these are often the most recommended by skin experts. The compounds contained in chemical sunscreens are approved by the FDA include:

  • Aminobenzoic acid (PABA) – Provides minimal UVA protection extensive UVB protection.
  • Avobenzone – Provides extensive UVA protection and limited UVB protection.
  • Cinoxate – Provides limited UVA and extensive UVB protection.
  • Dioxybenzone – Provides considerable UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Ecamsule – Provides extensive UVA protection limited UVB protection.
  • Homosalate – Provides minimal UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Menthyl anthranilate – Provides considerable UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Octocrylene – Provides limited UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Octyl methoxycinnamate – Provides limited UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Octyl salicylate – Provides minimal UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Oxybenzone – Provides considerable UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Padimate O – Provides limited UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Phenylbenzimidazole – Provides limited UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Sulisobenzone – Provides considerable UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Trolamine salicylate – Provides limited UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.

The good news about chemical sunscreens is you do not have to worry about finding one with extensive UVA and extensive UVB protection because the vast majority of chemical sunscreens contain combinations of chemical compounds so that you are as protected as possible. This is why they are labeled as broad-spectrum sunscreens. Skin care experts suggest using an SPF of 30 (or higher) and always making sure that it provides broad-spectrum coverage.

Woman applying sunscreen on her shoulders.

Physical Sunscreens
There are currently two active ingredients approved by the FDA. They are:

  • Titanium dioxide – Provides considerable UVA protection and extensive UVB protection.
  • Zinc oxide – Provides extensive protection from both UVA and UVB rays.

One of the reasons that these active ingredients are not as popular as their chemical counterparts is the application, the appearance and the potential for breakouts. Still, these physical ingredients are beneficial protection from both UVA and UVB rays and these work immediately upon application whereas chemical sunscreens take about 20 to 30 minutes to absorb into the skin.

Skin care experts, while often recommending chemical sunscreens, remind you that the only effective sunscreen is the one that you wear. Choose the type of sun protection that makes the most sense for your skin and your lifestyle and apply before any sun exposure.