Summer is the best time to get your daily dose of vitamin D from more than just foods and supplements. People can and should take time to get at least some sun exposure for the precious benefits it offers.
This brings up a rather “seasonal” question, however – which sunscreen products should we go for? Most people have preferred brands and models that they use every year because they’re comfortable with them.
Why the sunscreen market in the U.S. is such a mess?
If you take a deeper look into the U.S. sunscreen market, the FDA regulations on it, and the ingredients in the sunscreens, you’ll notice that something’s terribly wrong. The problem becomes even more obvious when you compare all that with Europe’s tight regulations and effective quality control.
“Europe has stronger standards for their sunscreens,” explains Carla Burns, sunscreen research and database analyst at Environmental Working Group (EWG).
The main difference between the U.S. and EU sunscreen regulations seems to be that the latter insist on proportional UVA and UVB protection for a balanced and comprehensive skin protection. In the U.S., on the other hand, these restrictions are so lax that, according to the EWG, ~75% of the sunscreens on the American market would not meet the European standards.
What does this mean for Americans? It means that people in the U.S. get sunscreen that may be less effective.
There are even reports and studies from January 2020 that show that “chemical sunscreen ingredients are systemically absorbed after one application, and some ingredients can stay in the blood for at least 3 weeks.”
Such harmful and easily absorbed ingredients include chemicals such as Homosalate, Avobenzone, Octocrylene, Oxybenzone, Octisalate, and Octinoxate. As you can see from the graph below, all of them tend to surpass the FDA-approved 0.5 nb/mL with Oxybenzone going over 200 ng/mL in American sunscreens on average.
The biggest risks bad sunscreens pose to our bodies and health
Here’s a quick breakdown of the main risks and problems posed by bad sunscreens. Many of these problems are present even in the biggest, most advertised, and well-renowned brands in America. We’ll list them in several separate lists below but for now – here’s what you should be mindful of when using a sunscreen:
- Hormonal overdose
Oxybenzone is one of the more common ingredients in American sunscreens and it has little trouble penetrating the skin and entering our bloodstreams. One of the main problems with it is that once it gets into our system, it acts like estrogen. This can lead to an unhealthy dose of “hormones” in our bodies which, in turn, can cause a lot of health problems.
There are many cases in the U.S. where oxybenzone has been detected in people’s bloodstreams at rates 438+ times higher than what’s healthy with the average being 200+ times over the line.
- Skin cancer
Yes, the thing sunscreens are supposed to protect us from is something many U.S. sunscreens actively cause. Some forms of vitamin A such as Retinyl palmitate, Retinyl acetate, Retinol, and Retinyl Linoleate are often present in American sunscreens. These ingredients are linked to conditions such as osteoporosis, liver damage, hair loss, brittle nails, and hip fractures in older adults, as well as skin tumors and lesions.
- Allergic reactions
More so than with most other chemical products, sunscreens are known to cause allergic skin reactions. That’s because of ingredients such as methylisothiazolinone which “won” the American Contact Dermatitis Society’s “Allergen of the Year” award in 2013.
Oxybenzone is also known to cause itchiness and eczema-like allergic reactions. (Read more…)