Sunscreen is one of those things we all know is important, yet many of us struggle with committing to daily wear. We have our reasons, whether it’s because we just can’t seem to find the perfect SPF with a look and feel we love, it feels like a nuisance to wear every day, or the honest truth: finding a safe, clean sunscreen that fits our personal requirements is tough–the struggle is real.
In an effort to finalize regulations for over the counter SPF products, the FDA updated their guidelines earlier this year. If you’ve already heard about the new guidelines, it may have left you feeling overwhelmed. You might feel that finding a sunscreen you can feel good about using is more challenging than ever. But don’t fret, hope isn’t lost!
Before we share with you how to shop with your safety in mind, let’s get into the details of the latest guidelines for safe and clean SPF.
The FDA has proposed that out of the currently 16 marketed sunscreen ingredients used in American cosmetics, 2 are considered GRASE (or Generally Recognized As Safe and Effective). It’s how the FDA describes safe and effective cosmetics, using an easy to remember acronym.
Essentially, mineral SPF products have been given the green light by the FDA, whereas cosmetics containing chemical sunscreens have been deemed questionable.
Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are considered safe and effective while PABA and trolamine salicylate are not GRASE due to safety concerns. As for the remaining 12, data is insufficient to be able to confirm a positive GRASE standard, however many of these sunscreen ingredients are surrounded by concerns of endocrine disruption and harming oceanic environments.
An additional concern surrounding chemical sunscreens is in how they protect our skin from UV rays. Healthy mineral sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide sit on top of our skin light, deflecting and scattering UV rays away from our complexion. On the other hand, the chemical sunscreen ingredients listed below contain organic, carbon-based compounds that create a chemical reaction to protect our skin from UV rays. These ingredients absorb into our skin and convert UV rays into heat, releasing that heat within our skin. The concern is that this heat may produce inflammation and cause unwanted long-term side effects, from aging to inflammatory skin conditions such as rosacea and acne.
The 12 Questionable Chemical Sunscreen Ingredients To Be Cautious Of:
Ecamsule (Mexoryl SX)
Ensulizole (Phenylbenzimidazole Sulfonic Acid)
Meradimate (Menthyl Anthranilate)
Octinoxate (Octyl Methoxycinnamate)
Octisalate (Octyl Salicylate)
In the natural cosmetics world, this is a major challenge. A large number of SPF products use ingredients containing chemical sun protectors with controversial studies and data surrounding them.
So what’s one to do when shopping for SPF to keep you safe and burn-free throughout the summer?
Well, it basically comes down to shopping for sunscreens that contain the two safe and effective ingredients: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
Not only are these two ingredients effective against sunburns but they’re healthy for the environment and won’t cause endocrine disruption. There is some concern surrounding titanium dioxide, however as long as you avoid powder based SPF products, there’s little to worry over.
When evaluating your shopping purchases, use our three rules of thumb: stick to shopping from reputable brands you can trust, check your labels always, and stay current on the latest developments in sun-safe research.