The Environmental Working Group recently put out its 2014 Sunscreen Guide, rating hundreds of sunscreens and finding nearly half to contain a chemical with super high health risks: biochemical and cellular level changes, endocrine disruption, allergies and even low birth weights. Not only that, but common sunscreens were found to pose other risks: chemical inhalation, speedy growth of skin tumors and lesions, and even increased risk for other kinds of sun damage.

Be a smart consumer and make sure your sunscreen isn’t jeopardizing other aspects of your health. There are a few sunscreen ingredients and categories we should all avoid, and over a hundred safe and natural sunscreens now on the market.

For starters, heed the advice of the EWG and avoid these 4 items completely:

1. Avoid sunscreens with oxybenzone.

Oxybenzone is used in over 40% of sunscreens, but research leaves us wondering why. Japan restricts its use in cosmetics, and the European Commission on Endocrine Disruption has found moderate evidence that it’s an endocrine disruptor. It’s also a possible human allergen, it’s been linked to endometriosis in older women, and could cause low birth weights.

2. Avoid sunscreens with retinyl palmitate.

This form of vitamin A may have some serious negative effects when used on sun-exposed skin. Canada doesn’t allow it in their cosmetics, and it may cause speedier growth of skin tumors and lesions. To be safe, avoid it.

3. Avoid anything higher than SPF 50.

Super high SPF’s give a false sense of security. While they may protect from sunburn-causing UVB rays, they may not protect you from skin-damaging UVA rays. High SPF’s tempt you to stay in the sun longer and reapply less because you’re not getting burnt. No matter the SPF, reapply often and avoid strong midday sun.

4. Avoid spray sunscreens.

If you’ve ever watched someone apply spray sunscreen at the beach, you know how little of it actually ends up on the skin. Not only that, but spray sunscreens pose a risk for inhaling sunscreen chemicals.

EWG also recommends avoiding combined sunscreen and bug repellents, and sunscreen wipes and powders.

Want to know how your sunscreen rates? Enter it into EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database to view its score on a scale of 1-10; harmless to scarily harmful.

If you’re sunscreen doesn’t cut it, check out the EWG’s list of best beach and sport sunscreens for safe, natural sunscreens. They also have a list of The Best Moisturizers With SPF.

What’s your favorite natural sunscreen? Please share below to encourage other readers to make the switch!




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