Sunscreen Update

August 3, 2011

The following is from the 2011 Environmental Working Group report on sunscreen.  It is consistent with my opinion that physical sunblock with titanium or zinc is preferable to the various chemical sunscreens on the market, especially for children and any person with sensitive skin.

“Pick your sunscreen: nanomaterials or potential hormone disruptors.

The ideal sunscreen would completely block the UV rays that cause sunburn, immune suppression and damaging free radicals. It would remain effective on the skin for several hours and not form harmful ingredients when degraded by UV light. It would smell and feel pleasant so that people use it in the right amount and frequency.

Unsurprisingly, there is currently no sunscreen that meets all of these criteria. The major choice in the U.S. is between “chemical” sunscreens, which have inferior stability, penetrate the skin and may disrupt the body’s hormone systems, and “mineral” sunscreens (zinc and titanium), which often contain micronized- or nano-scale particles of those minerals.

After reviewing the evidence, EWG determined that mineral sunscreens have the best safety profile of today’s choices. They are stable in sunlight and do not appear to penetrate the skin. They offer UVA protection, which is sorely lacking in most of today’s sunscreen products. Mexoryl SX (ecamsule) is another good option, but it’s sold in very few formulations. Tinosorb S and M could be great solutions but are not yet available in the U.S. For consumers who don’t like mineral products, we recommend sunscreens with avobenzone (3 percent for the best UVA protection) and without the notorious hormone disruptors oxybenzone or 4-MBC. Scientists have called for parents to avoid using oxybenzone on children due to penetration and toxicity concerns.”

When looking for a sunscreen, look at the active ingredient list and choose a product that contains only titanium and zinc.  The following products are examples of sunblocks that are available with only titanium and/or zinc as the active ingredients:

– Neutrogena Pure and Free Baby Sunblock

– Blue Lizard Baby

– Vanicream SPF 60 Sensitive Sunscreen

– California Baby SPF 30 Sunscreen

– Fallene COTZ SPF 58

Note: The content of this blog is for informational purposes only and is not meant as specific medical advice for a specific person.   If you have a medical problem, please contact your doctor.

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