I get a lot of enquiries about sunscreens. It is difficult to create an SPF (sun protection factor) cream without the use of chemicals. As a general rule the higher the SPF the more chemicals used.
A lot of the UVA/B chemical filters used in sunscreens are not only harsh skin irritants but some, like Isotridecyl Salicylate and Octyl Salicylate, are also believed to be oestrogen mimickers.
Many also contain Methyl Paraben which is used as a preservative. The controversy around parabens is well known, but a recent study in Japan also showed that Methyl Paraben prematurely ages the skin when exposed to UVA/B sunlight.
So what about the more natural sun creams on the market? Are they really better?
Natural SPF creams are made with mineral sun blocks like titanium or zinc oxides. They work in a different way to chemical sunscreens (which absorb UVA/B light). Instead, they act as a barrier which is why they don’t absorb well and often appear white on the skin.
While these sunscreens are kinder on the skin, more and more manufacturers now grind down the minerals into nanoparticles to eliminate the whiteness problem.
While this may seem like a good thing, recent studies suggest these smaller particles penetrate the body in ways the larger particles cannot and could pose a long-term health risk.
Manufacturers currently do not need to label nanoparticles on their products, although there is mounting pressure for this to change.
So…what is the best way to stay protected this Summer? I’d suggest investing in a wide-brimmed hat and staying out of the midday rays!