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Vitamin A in Sunscreen May Cause Cancer

Check Your Sunscreen Labels For Vitamin A

We all know that sunscreen is a tool to protect our skin against a host of ailments, including cancer and premature aging, but according to the Environmental Working Group, vitamin A derivatives retinol and retinyl palmitate, which are a popular additive in antiaging sunscreens, could speed the development of tumors when used on skin that's being exposed to the sun.

It's pretty common knowledge that vitamin A increases skin's sensitivity to light — anyone who's ever used Retin-A or Accutane gets a warning from their doctor about avoiding sun when they get their prescription — so this isn't surprising. It's the fact that vitamin A is being put into sunscreen in the first place that's weird. Why put a photosensitizing agent into a product people are buying expressly as sun protection?

I know that some people are going to blow this off as an "everything gives you cancer" story, but they shouldn't. The takeaway is really about connecting the dots, and finding out what's in the products you use. Do you use sunscreen that contains this vitamin, and if so, would finding out it had vitamin A in it make you think about changing brands?

Image Source: Thinkstock
Ellenora Ellenora 7 years
Allyta--Personally, I don't use sunscreens with vitamin A in it. Why? It's purified form is Retinol, something I have a serious allergy to. Retinol is used to help exfoliate the face and makes the skin UV sensitive. I can ingest foods with retinol, but I can't use it in cosmetics due to the allergy. Coming from that point, I won't use it. My philosophy is this--use what you believe is good for your skin and educate yourself. If you think Vitamin A is an absolute essential in your sunscreen, use it. I know what Vitamin A in cosmetics, prescriptions and beauty products does to my skin so I don't use it. I also feel much better not using a product that a) I'm allergic to and b) I know causes UV light sensitivity.
Allytta Allytta 7 years
this is blown out of the proportion and bellas are falling for it. vitamin a actually makes sunscreen much more effective, take it out and be left with lesser protection. and ewg is the last source i'll listen to, greens have nothing on beauty geeks. it's basic science
Renees3 Renees3 7 years
I think it's good to know about these things, but the story was a little one sided and putting down the sunscreen industry all the time doesn't make it sound very credible in my opinion. Also I'm so sick of people putting down higher SPF's. I don't care if a higher SPF blocks the rays .5% more, when you're white like me, I will take whatever the highest number you've got. I have no "false" sense of security, I just need all the SPF help I can get!
ElrRigby ElrRigby 7 years
Not sure if you realize, but your Tuesday giveaway (the sunscreen - SPF 30+ Everyday UV Slim Travel Tube) has a vitamin A derivative, Retinyl Palmitate, in it. Think it's a bit contradictory.
Paradox28 Paradox28 7 years
Two of mine do far down in the list of active ingredients. And they are not even supposed to be anti-aging. They are just sunblock....why must they do these things?
Ellenora Ellenora 7 years
I'm a label-reading-freak since I'm allergic to retinol (and have a huge sensitivity to fragrances) so I know none of mine have Vitamin A. I won't risk another Retin-A Micro experience. It doesn't make any sense to put something that makes your skin sensitive to light like Vitamin A in a product meant to PROTECT your skin. I would rather have something like Vitamin E (which one of my sunscreens has) in my sunscreen. Vitamin E is a healing/repairing vitamin and also protects from free radicals and UV rays. It's a makes more sense to put in Vitamin E in a sunscreen than Vitamin A.
hisoka27 hisoka27 7 years
Oh god thanks you for telling me. I just found out that Bliss' best of skintentions daily moisturizer has vitamin A. Sigh this means I have to find another moisturizer, not easy to find one that does what I want it to without causing my sensitive skin to react badly.
Beauty Beauty 7 years
Good on you for checking, LeeLuv!
leeluvfashion leeluvfashion 7 years
Only one of mine contain vitamin A or its derivative (Azur Mineral Face/Body SPF40) however I never use that one due to gooeyness and now that it has Vit.A included. Currently I use Loving Naturals SPF30 and 100% Pure Hydration SPF20 which are safe to use.
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