There is an organisation called EWG that seems intent on spreading half truths about cosmetic ingredients that puts fear into consumers, akin to going to a horror movie. Consumers are left feeling with a sense of dread and feel like they have been lied to and deceived, when this has never been the case. You only have to browse the internet to be informed that using a chemical sunscreen is like slathering yourself with some toxic chemical.
Why would you bother using a chemical sunscreen when Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide, which are physical blockers exist?
Well there is a very good reason why new sunscreens which are chemical in nature were developed. And NO it’s not because mad scientists have developed another plot to kill us. It’s actually because there was a NEED FOR THEM. In Australia the total number of skin cancers treated increased from 412 493 in 1997 to 767 347 in 2010. By 2015 this is forecast to rise to 938 991 (1). We have an epidemic of skin cancer occurring and this is a real health concern.
Okay so why the need for Chemical Sunscreens? Titanium Dioxide in their unaltered state are very white and opaque on the skin. If you want to look like “Casper the Ghost”…awesome, however this does not entice people to use sunscreen regularly. The lack of use of sunscreen is evident in the consistently increasing rates of skin cancer. So then what happened is they micronized the Zinc and Titanium Dioxide to make them not as “white” on the skin…..however by doing that they actually changed the spectrum that the Zinc and Titanium now covered. Therein lies the problem. Micronized Zinc and Titanium Dioxide do not give you adequate coverage to protect, which is why they are usually mixed with chemical sunscreens.
Common chemical filters are avobenzone and oxybenzone, homosalate, Helioplex, Mexoryl SX and XL, Tinosorb S and M. Oxbenzone in particular is rates as moderately high hazard by the Environmental Working Group. The reason because in some poor mouse it was shown to be an an endocrine disruptor and was linked to cancer in some laboratory studies because they fed it to them.
I don’t know about you but personally I am not into eating sunscreen.
So what are the facts?
Oxybenzone is an organic UV-B and short-wave UV-A filter and has been available for over 40 years. In the past few years, oxybenzone has received increasing attention as a potentially harmful compound. Initial concerns arose when a report demonstrated systemic absorption of oxybenzone in humans at a rate of 1% to 2% after topical application. Similar or higher rates of cutaneous absorption in human subjects have been observed The potential for biological effects, however, were first published in a study by Schlumpf et al demonstrating uterotropic effects in immature rats after oral administration of oxybenzone; it should be noted that the estrogenic effect detected was less than 1 million-fold of estradiol, the positive control used. Nonetheless, this study has served as the basis for considerable concern among the public.
Now after reading that your likely to want to throw out any sunscreen that contains it…..but let’s put this in perspective.
So to assess the the potential for hormonal disruption in humans, scientists decided to replicate the doses of oxybenzone used to achieve a 23% increase in uterine size reported in immature rats.
So they calculated the amount of sunscreen required to be used topically in humans to achieve the effective the equivalent cumulative amount of oxybenzone orally administered to immature rats; and they determined the number of years of daily application that were required to obtain the equivalent levels of oxybenzone that the experimental animals were also exposed to.
It would take 277 years of daily use of Oxybenzone to replicate the results (2). In otherwords….IT IS IMPOSSIBLE. Now if anyone knows the secret to live that long…please fill me in.
The other factor is that NOT ONE study has shown endocrine disruption in humans. Just because it causes a problem in a rat does not equate to problems in human.
The bigger problem is skin cancer…..and are you prepared to risk it?
1. Sinclair, R. Non Melanoma Skin Cancer in Australia. British Journal of Dermatology (2013). Volume 168, Issue 1. Pages 1-2.
2.. Wang, S. Burnett, M. Lim, H. Safety of Oxybenzone Putting Numbers Into Perspective.(2011) Archives of Dermatology. July 2011.