Avoid these 5 cancer-causing sunscreen ingredients
As soon as the sun comes out, the first instinct is to lather on sun cream to prevent sunburn. It’s been drummed into us that sun cream protects the body from harmful UV rays and skin cancer. But does it?
What hasn’t been publicised is the fact that most sun creams are loaded with carcinogenic (cancer-causing) ingredients. The same toxins that are linked to hormone disruption, infertility, low birth weight and developmental issues.
The FDA has recalled millions of bottles of sunscreen that were previously deemed as “safe”.
Because they contain an ingredient called benzene which is a known carcinogen.
The shocking FDA discovery
After doing further research, the FDA discovered that the toxic ingredients found in certain sunscreen brands absorb through the skin and into the body via the bloodstream. They also learnt that these ingredients stay in the body for extended periods of time, allowing them to wreak havoc and cause further damage.
All of the sunscreen ingredients listed below are absorbed systemically after one application of sunscreen and are still found on the skin and in the bloodstream weeks after being used. They can also make their way into breastmilk which is terrifying.
But… the FDA still advise that people continue to use sunscreens as the benefits of “skin protection” outweighs the potential long-term health complications associated with these toxic ingredients.
You need to dig a little deeper and use common sense to decipher what the real reason is. The sun care products industry in the US alone is worth $14 billion and is expected to rise substantially by 2028. That is a LOT of money being spent globally on sun creams and after-sun products. Let’s not even get started on the eye-watering profits that BIG Pharma earn from the cancer industry – a whopping $161 billion in 2022!
So, what ingredients pose the most risk to your health?
5 poisonous sun cream ingredients
- Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3) is a petroleum-based chemical used in sunscreens as it absorbs UVB and UVA rays. When applied topically, it softens the skin, enabling the chemical to penetrate through the skin into the body. It leaches into the blood and can even migrate into breast milk. It’s a known hormone disruptor linked to infertility, low birth weight, reduced testosterone production and cancer.  
- Avobenzone is an oil-soluble ingredient used to absorb UVA rays. However, it breaks down within 30 minutes of being applied so only offers 30 minutes of sun protection! Instead of protecting your skin, it creates free radicals (molecules that damage cells) which promotes premature ageing and wrinkles. As it’s able to enter the skin once applied, avobenzone disrupts hormones and increases cancer risk.
- Octocrylene is often found in tandem with avobenzone due to its longer application life. It works as a UV filter and can penetrate the deepest levels of the skin. However, when exposed to UV light, octocrylene produces cell-destroying free radicals that cause cells to mutate and die, increasing the risk of diseases and cancer. Octocrylene breaks down into a hormone-disrupting chemical compound called benzophenone that can negatively affect thyroid function and suppress male hormone activity which can cause issues with both male and female reproductive organs. 
- Ensulizole is another ingredient that creates cell-damaging molecules (free radicals) when exposed to sunlight – it is particularly damaging for the cardiovascular system and can cause cells to mutate and become cancerous. Its main action is to block UVB rays only, not UVA rays.
- Homosalate is a common ingredient in sunscreens as well as other personal care products and makeup including lip balms, foundation and body sprays. It is a hormone-disrupting chemical that has shown to increase oestrogen and dysregulate androgens (male hormones) and progesterone.  
How to protect your skin naturally
Instead of slathering yourself with cancer-causing ingredients, protect yourself naturally by:
- Avoiding the sun at peak times when the sun is strongest
- Adopt the shadow rule – avoid going into the sun if your shadow is shorter than your height
- Wear UV protection clothing, sunglasses and hats
- Take advantage of shaded areas
Here are other ways you can protect your skin naturally including what foods to eat and how to make your own sun cream at home.
Coconut oil works well on the skin as it nourishes the skin and is a natural protector with an SPF of 4-5. For higher SPF protection, add zinc oxide and raspberry seed oil which has an SPF of 28 – 50.
Organic olive oil and almond oil are effective at cooling down and soothing the skin after sunburn and reducing the effects of sun damage.
Astaxanthin: Miracle Anti-Ageing Nutrient
Astaxanthin, dubbed the anti-ageing nutrient, has shown promising results as a natural sun protector. It is a red pigment found in algae that gives animals and plants their reddish/pink colour (salmon, flamingos). Due to its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, astaxanthin can protect cells from the damage caused by UV rays, inhibit skin deterioration (premature ageing) and increase blood flow (and therefore nutrients) to the skin.
It has other health benefits too:
- Skin and wound healing
- Reduces wrinkles and age spots
- Improves vision and eye health
- Strengthens the immune system
- Enhances athletic performance
- Reduces blood pressure and optimises heart health
Food sources of astaxanthin include algae, salmon, crayfish, shrimp, krill and trout.
For a therapeutic dose, a supplemental form of astaxanthin is recommended. Consult with a natural health practitioner who can advise you on the best form and dose.
To learn how to make your own sun cream at home using natural ingredients, take a look at CNM’s create your own natural skincare and nutrition short course.
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