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3 Dangerous Sunscreen Ingredients to Avoid

June 27, 2022
6 minutes

Sunburns are skin damage that occurs when the skin becomes exposed to too much ultraviolet (UV) light. Sunburns can occur within minutes of exposure to UV light and are most common during the summer months. Symptoms of sunburn include red, painful, or swollen skin, blistering, peeling skin, and changes in skin color.

Sunburns can increase the risk of skin cancer, so it is essential to protect yourself from the sun by wearing sunscreen and clothing that covers your skin. However, not every ingredient in sunscreen is beneficial to our health. Below we talk about some sunscreen ingredients to avoid - such as oxybenzone, octocrylene, and avobenzone- and why you should avoid them. We also mention safe sunscreen ingredients to look out for.

sunscreen ingredients to avoid

Sunburns

There are two types of sunburns: first-degree and second-degree.

A first-degree sunburn is when the skin is red and painful, but there is no blistering. This type of sunburn will usually heal within a week.

A second-degree sunburn is when the skin is red and painful, and there are blisters. This type of sunburn can take two weeks or longer to heal and lead to infection if the blisters break.

If you have a mild sunburn, you can treat it at home with over-the-counter (OTC) medications and home remedies. OTC pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve) can help reduce pain and inflammation. You can also apply a cool compress to the sunburned area for relief. Do not pop the blisters as this can lead to infection.

If you have a severe sunburn, see a doctor. While most sunburns will heal on their own within a week, some complications of a sunburn can occur.

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Dehydration is one complication of a sunburn. When you sunburn, your skin will lose moisture and become dry. This moisture loss can lead to dehydration when your body does not have enough fluids. Symptoms of dehydration include thirst, dizziness, lightheadedness, and fatigue. Drink plenty of fluids when you are sunburned to prevent dehydration.

Another complication of sunburn is heat exhaustion. This effect occurs when your body cannot cool itself, and you feel faint or dizzy. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, or fainting. If you have these symptoms, get out of the sun and into a cool place. Drink fluids and rest.

In rare cases, complications of a sunburn can lead to heatstroke. This condition is a medical emergency and requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms of heatstroke include high body temperature, red, hot, and dry skin, rapid breathing, confusion, or unconsciousness.

The ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can damage the DNA in our skin cells. This damage can lead to skin cancer. While most sunburns will heal on their own within a week, the damage to the skin from the sun's UV rays can last a lifetime.

There are two types of UV rays: UVA and UVB. Both types of UV rays can cause skin cancer.

  • UVA Rays: UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB rays. They are present all year round and can cause premature aging of the skin and skin cancer.
  • UVB Rays: UVB rays are the primary cause of sunburns. They are present all year round but are strongest during the summer months. UVB rays are more likely to cause sunburns and are associated with skin cancer.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. There are three types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer and is usually not fatal. It begins in the basal cells, found in the bottom layer of the epidermis (outer layer of skin). Basal cell carcinomas typically appear as small, raised bumps that are flesh-colored or white. They can also look like red patches, sores, or scars.

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer and is usually not fatal. It begins in the squamous cells, found in the middle layer of the skin. Squamous cell carcinomas can appear as scaly patches that are red or tan. They can also look like open sores, warts, or crusted over areas.

Melanoma is the third most common type of skin cancer and is the most dangerous. Melanomas can look like moles or birthmarks. They can be black, brown, or any color. Melanomas can appear on any skin area but are most likely to appear on the face, chest, back, or arms.

If you experience any of these complications, seek medical attention immediately.

The best way to prevent a sunburn is to avoid getting sunburned in the first place.

Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, avoid the sun during the peak hours of 10 am to 4 pm, and wear clothing covering your skin.

Check the ingredients in your sunscreen as some components can be harmful to your health. Avoid oxybenzone, octocrylene, and avobenzone - these are common sunscreen ingredients that have been linked to health concerns.

Uses of Sunscreen 

While sunscreen is most commonly associated with protecting the skin from the sun, individuals can also use it for other purposes.

Some people use sunscreen to prevent acne. The theory is that sunscreen can also block the growth of bacteria that can cause acne by blocking UV light.

Individuals can also use sunscreen to prevent wrinkles. Wrinkles appear due to a breakdown of collagen and elastin in the skin - and exposure to UV light can accelerate this process. By wearing sunscreen, you can help protect your skin from the damaging effects of UV light and reduce the formation of wrinkles.

In addition to these uses, people can also use sunscreen to protect the hair from damage caused by UV light. Sunscreen for the hair can help to prevent sun damage, such as dryness, brittleness, and fading.

So, while sunscreen is most commonly associated with protecting the skin from the sun, we can also use it for other purposes. When choosing sunscreen, be sure to check the ingredients and avoid those that may be harmful to your health. And remember to reapply sunscreen every two hours - or more often if you are sweating or swimming.

Sunscreen Ingredients to Avoid

Sunscreen is an essential part of protecting your skin from the harmful effects of the sun. Still, some sunscreen ingredients can be detrimental to your health. Avoid oxybenzone, octocrylene, and avobenzone - these are common sunscreen ingredients that have been linked to health concerns.

  • Oxybenzone: This is a common ingredient in sunscreen that absorbs UV light. Oxybenzone prevents sunburn by absorbing UV light before it reaches the skin. However, oxybenzone can be absorbed through the skin and linked to health concerns. Studies have shown that oxybenzone can mimic the hormone estrogen. This effect can disrupt the normal function of the endocrine system. Oxybenzone has also been linked to low birth weight and early puberty in girls.
  • Octocrylene: This is another common ingredient in sunscreen that helps protect against UV rays. Octocrylene works by absorbing UV light and converting it into heat, which dissipates from the skin. However, octocrylene has been linked to health concerns. Studies have shown that octocrylene can be absorbed and connected to cell damage through the skin. Octocrylene has also been linked to allergic reactions.
  • Avobenzone: This is another ingredient in sunscreen that helps protect against UV rays. Avobenzone absorbs UV light and then releases it as heat. However, avobenzone can be unstable and break down when exposed to sunlight. When avobenzone breaks down, it can form harmful compounds that can get absorbed through the skin. Avobenzone has also been linked to allergic reactions.

Safe Sunscreen Ingredients 

When choosing a sunscreen, look for one that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, as these ingredients are not absorbed into the skin and are not associated with health concerns.

sunscreen ingredients to avoid, safe sunscreen ingredients, oxybenzone, octocrylene, avobenzone
  • Zinc Oxide: This is a safe and effective ingredient in sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Zinc oxide works by reflecting and scattering the UV light away from the skin.
  • Titanium Dioxide: This is another safe and effective ingredient in sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Titanium dioxide works by absorbing UV light and then releasing it as heat.

Remember to reapply sunscreen every two hours, even if the label says it is waterproof.

Sunscreen should be used as part of a comprehensive sun safety program that includes other ways of preventing sunburns, such as:

  • Seeking Shade: When the sun is at its strongest, seek shade between 10 am and 4 pm. This is the best way to protect yourself from the harmful effects of the sun.
  • Wearing Protective Clothing: Cover up with clothing to protect your skin from the sun. Wear a hat, shirt, and pants. If you can't cover up with clothing, use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Avoiding The Sun During Peak Hours: The sun's rays are the strongest between 10 am and 4 pm. If possible, avoid being in direct sunlight during these hours.
  • Staying Hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Dehydration can make you more susceptible to sunburns.
  • Wearing Sunglasses: Wearing sunglasses help protect your eyes from the harmful effects of the sun. Choose sunglasses that block out 99% of UV rays.
  • Monitoring Your Skin: Check your skin regularly for signs of sun damage, such as new or changing moles, freckles, or redness. If you notice any changes, see a dermatologist.

The best way to protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun is to avoid sun exposure. However, if you must be in the sun, use sunscreen and take other precautions to protect yourself.

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