Because my son uses sunscreen all year round, last year after the Environmental Working Group published a report highlighting a potential carcinogenic risk with sunscreens that contain retinyl palmitate, a form of Vitamin A, we looked again carefully at the sunscreens we were using. Regulations about sunscreen ingredients are tighter in the EU than in the US but I still wanted to check:
Many sunscreen makers still use a form of vitamin A, called retinyl palmitate, ignoring recent scientific research by the federal Food and Drug Administration indicating the chemical may be photocarcinogenic – that it may heighten skin cancer risk when used on sun-exposed skin.
When I started looking into what was in sunscreens, I was disheartened by the ingredients in many of them. Because the skin cancer rates are very high in immunosuppressed individuals we follow the general sun-safety advice and try to stay in the shade and use protective hats and clothing when we are out in the sun but now if we have to be in the sun we use sunscreens that don’t use vitamin A or its derivatives and which don’t contain the hormone-disrupting chemical oxybenzone or any other nasty ingredients.
The EWG have compiled a database which is a great starting point for finding a safe sunscreen. Last year I used the database to search for a low hazard, safer sunscreen and settled on Soleo (which you can buy in the UK from The Greenstop). I wanted a sunscreen that was mineral- not chemical-based and contained zinc oxide rather than titanium dioxide as zinc oxide is considered safer. Although it is relatively expensive we have been very pleased with the protection it gives.
Edited to add: this year we are trialling Badger unscented sunscreen and I’ll let you know what we think at the end of the summer.
Do you worry about what’s in your sunscreen?
Soleo, Badger and the Greenstop have not paid me to mention them, I just really like their products.