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Is Sunscreen Dangerous?

Sunscreen: Healthy or Hazardous?

A few years ago, I went to the dermatologist to get a suspicious mole checked out on my back. The doctor agreed that it looked like it could be malignant, and I was so freaked out. I started to feel really bad that I hadn't been better about using sunscreen every time I went outside. I was grateful that the mole wasn't cancerous, but it was a huge wake-up call to me. Now I'm religious about slathering it on my whole family, all year round.

But a recent report from the Environmental Working Group says that sunscreen is actually a health hazard, and that the chemicals it contains can "accelerate the growth of skin tumors or disrupt the intricate workings of your hormonal system." They also believe that sunscreen gives us a false sense of security. We feel that sunscreen protects us from skin cancer, so we end up spending more time in the sun.

Before you ditch your bottles, the American Academy of Dermatology disagrees, saying that sunscreen is indeed beneficial in helping prevent skin cancer. They do agree that not all sunscreens are created equal, and that most people don't apply sunscreen as often as they should, and when they do, they don't use enough.


For tips on buying the safest sunscreen and how to apply it so you stay protected,


  • Look for labels that say "broad spectrum," "wide spectrum," or "UVA/UVB protection." Older bottles may only protect against UVB rays, the ones responsible for causing sunburn and skin cancer, but you need UVA protection as well, since these rays lead to tanning, wrinkles, and skin cancers.
  • As long as you store it in a cool, dry place with the cap on tightly, sunscreen should last up to three years. Just be sure to check the expiration date and be aware of any weird texture or smells. If the cap wasn't on tight, spring for a new bottle.
  • If you're worried about chemicals, look for sunscreens that don't contain oxybenzone. Here are some suggestions.
  • Don't skimp on the lotion. Use the amount that would fit in a shot glass to cover your entire body.
  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before heading outside, and re-apply every two hours, since sweating and swimming can wear off sunscreen, even the ones that are labeled as waterproof.

Skin care giant La Roche-Posay , makers of Anthelios sunscreen, have created the Save Our Skin campaign to remind us all to protect our skin. And today, May 27, National Sunscreen Awareness Day. I know I put my daily SPF on my face today. Did you?

Image Source: Thinkstock
Join The Conversation
blooditsnotfunny blooditsnotfunny 7 years
ran out and bought all terrain kidsport after seeing this report. at 10 bucks, it was the cheapest sunscreen I could find that was recommended by EWG. Has anyone else found a cheaper alternative that is recommended by EWG?
ceej ceej 7 years
In Australia we have invisible zinc tinted moisturiser so at least for your face you can avoid the white tinge. The most important thing to remember with sunscreen that when you re apply it doesn't mean you are back at square one. You have still had 2 hours of sun exposure. We are very advanced here when it comes to sunscreen, a consequence of having the highest skin cancer rate in the world unfortunately. I carry a silver umbrella, wear long sleeves in summer and never sunbake. Something that also freaks me out when I see young kids from the US or Europe is that they wear little bikinis or boys in little briefs. Our children are covered from neck to knee and always wear hats. I know I sound like a vigliante but I have had lots of friends and family with skin cancer so am extra careful.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 7 years
Oh, whatever. I've instituted a new policy wherein I ignore all new studies.
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 7 years
I discovered I'm allergic to most kinds of sunscreen. But I just started using Supergoop, and it hasn't made my skin break out. imLissy, you might try it, it's UVA/UVB and absorbs pretty easily. I had that same problem with Mexitan, I went on vacation in January and it made me look like a ghost!
EcoDiva EcoDiva 7 years
I love Marie Veronique Organics Moisturizing Face Screen which is in the EWG's top 10, . The medium tint is perfect for me. It's easy to wear (not greasy or pasty white) and provides full UVA/UVB protection.
minxa25 minxa25 7 years
I believe is all about ingredient aim for a sunscreen without parabens or petroleum based ingredients
Daisy-Duke Daisy-Duke 7 years
Thank you for this. I was worried about all the new reports but I know that keeping with our sunscreen routine is definitely the best option!
leeluvfashion leeluvfashion 7 years
Everyday I wear 100% Pure SPF20 Hydration my face (including ears), neck, décolletage, upper hands. It has zinc and titanium dioxide along with tea extracts and no toxic chemicals. If I am working out in the yard I'll use either Loving Naturals or Badger Unscented SPF's however it will still have a somewhat white cast since it is that tint from the spf that is protecting your skin. Since I am not really going anywhere, I do not mind and just wash it off later. I used to use Azur SPF40 once in a while when outside however now I saw that it has a Vit A ingredient so that is "no go." A shame considered it left no major cast. Hopefully the company will remove the ingredient sometime soon. Fingerscrossed!
imLissy imLissy 7 years
I've tried using sunscreen with zinc, but it made me look like a ghost. Any recommendations for natural sunscreen that gets absorbed into your skin?
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