This is going to be a very difficult post to write. There are so many technicalities and legalities around what can and cannot be said on sunscreen. So, I need to make it clear that what you are about to read here is my opinion, nothing more-nothing less.
I grew up in the generation of Slip, Slop, Slap. Never questioning it, never thinking more about it as my Mum lathered me up. However, now that I have children of my own, one of which had an allergic reaction to sunscreen, I started to think about it. In fact, I’ve started many a conversation that have ended up quite heated in some instances, around what sunscreen does for us and if we should be using it.
One thing that gets to me, more than anything, is when people are so adamant that they know what’s best and when this confidence is based purely on what they’ve been told from the industry itself rather than doing the research themselves.
So, I’d like to lay out some facts that I’ve found through some research of my own.
THERE ARE TWO DIFFERENT TYPES
There are actually two different types of sunscreen; chemical and physical. The chemical sunscreens use well, chemicals. They are designed to be absorbed into your skin and work by converting the UV rays, so they are not damaging.
Physical sunscreens are blockers. They traditionally use natural substances, like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, they act as a physical barrier between the sun’s UV rays and your skin. They don’t absorb into your skin.
SUNSCREEN ITSELF GIVES YOU SKIN CANCER
This has become a more recent scare and it is from one main ingredient: Retinyl Palmitate. There have been multiple studies that have shown a possible link between this chemical and skin cancer. Other studies for the ingredient have shown that it can increase your Vitamin A absorption which can lead to other health problems.
The thing is, Australian sunscreen doesn’t seem to use this ingredient. Which brings us to our next point.
WHAT INGREDIENTS ARE APPROVED IN AUSTRALIA
There are an abundance of ingredients that are approved for sunscreen in Australia, so I’ll just stick to the most common ingredients; Bemotrizinol, Butyl Methoxy Dibenzoylmethane, Homosalate, 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor, Methylene Bis-benzo-triazolyl-tetramethyl-butylphenol, Octocrylene and Octyl Salicylate.
Looking at only these ingredients, I’ve found that they all seem to have either a link to or are directly a hormone disruptor. They disrupt your estrogen, androgen and progesterone, which long story short means they mess with your endocrine system.
If you are interested, you can find a full list of the approved ingredients here.
Sunscreen is a billion dollar a year industry. The media, doctors, wellness coaches and so on go on about sunscreen, whether it be good or bad. All I can recommend is educating yourself. Figure out what you feel comfortable putting into your body. Then make an informed decision. Don’t just follow the pack.