Are You Sensitive to Sunscreen?

Category_Current & Seasonal Health News Category_Skin Health skin cancer skin damage sun damage sunlight and vitamin D sunscreen allergy sunscreen chemicals sunscreen sensitivity ultraviolet rays UV rays vitamin D xenoestrogens zinc oxide

Are You Sensitive to Sunscreen?You don't need to be sun-phobic, but you do need protection from overexposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays because they can cause long-term damage to the skin, accelerate aging, and greatly increase your risk for development of skin cancer.1 However, many people are so sensitive to the effects of sunscreen chemicals that they're going without sunscreen (which I don't recommend). Remember, some sun is good for you. Sunlight on your skin is one of the few ways your body is able to make vitamin D. A loose, general rule is to get 10-20 minutes of sun (on your arms, and legs if possible) three times a week (where and when possible) but do apply sunscreen after the first few minutes to avoid UV damage.2 This is a very general rule, however, as the paler your skin type the more easily your skin can produce vitamin D. It also depends upon how close you live to the equator, the time of day, and the amount of skin exposed.3

Chemicals in Sunscreen

Most sunscreens contain lanolin (wool alcohols), fragrances and preservatives, as well as certain chemicals which block or absorb the sun's harmful UV rays. These chemicals can disturb sensitive skin and cause allergic contact dermatitis and, in some cases, photocontact dermatitis.4 However, there are far more serious concerns about sunscreen chemicals that include xenoestrogens (chemicals that mimic estrogen), hormone disruption, links to endometriosis, and sprem and thyroid alterations in animal studies.

Here is a list of of common sunscreen chemicals in order of toxicity:

Highest Toxicity

  • Oxybenzone (linked to endometriosis, mimics estrogen, alters sperm production in animal studies)
  • Octinoxate or Octyl methoxycinnamate (hormone-like activity, reproductive system, thyroid alterations in animal studies)

Moderate Toxicity

  • Homosalate (hormone disruptor)
  • Octisalate
  • Octocrylene

Lower Toxicity

  • Zinc Oxide
  • Avobenzone
  • Mexoryl SX
  • Titanium Dioxide5

Sensibly Protecting Yourself In the Sun

  • If you're planning to stay out in the sun for more than 10-15 minutes and cannot tolerate sunscreen, wear long pants or a skirt, long sleeves and a hat.
  • Limit your time in the sun, and try to avoid going out when the sun's rays are the strongest (10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.)
  • Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen.6

How to Buy Safe Sunscreen

  • Oxybenzone
  • Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate)7
  • Added insect repellent
  • Sprays and powders above SPF (sun protection factor) 50
  • Cream with broad-spectrum protection
  • Water-resistant
  • SPF 15-50
  • Zinc Oxide as active ingredient8

What We Use

We use products from Badger,9 specifically: Active, Unscented, Broad-spectrum 30, Zinc Oxide Sunscreen has many pure body care products for the entire family – all certified organic. The Doctor Emi Team
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1. Kong BY, Sheu SL, Kundu RV. Assessment of Consumer Knowledge of New Sunscreen Labels. JAMA Dermatol. 2015;151(9):1028-1030. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.1253. Accessed on July 28. 2016. (JAMA)
2. Medline Plus. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Vitamin D, Recommendations. Updated February 2, 2015. Accessed July 11, 2016. (NLM)
3. How do I get the vitamin D my body needs? Vitamin D Council. Accessed July 28, 2016. (VitaminDCouncil)
4. Ngan V. Sunscreen Allergy. DermNet NZ. Facts about the skin from DermNet New Zealand Trust. Accessed July 28, 2016. (DermNetNZ)
5. The Trouble With Oxybenzone and Other Sunscreen Chemicals. Environmental Working Group: EWG's Guide to Sunscreens. Accessed July 28, 2016. (EWG)
6. Questions and Answers: FDA announces new requirements for over-the-counter (OTC) sunscreen products marketed in the U.S.Q5. What do consumers most need to know when buying and using sunscreens? U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Last updated October 22, 2014. Accessed July 28, 016. (FDA)
7. The Problem with Vitamin A. Environmental Working Group: EWG's Guide to Sunscreens. Accessed July 28, 2016. (EWG)
8. EWG's Guide to Safer Sunscreens. Accessed July 28, 2016. (EWG)
9. Badger Certified Organic Healthy Body Care. Powerfully Pure Body Care. Accessed July 28, 2016. (
10. Organic Unscented Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide; SPF30 Unscented Sunscreen Cream (Broad Spectrum & Water Resistant). Accessed July 28, 2016. (

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