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HOW TO: make easy smart/non toxic choices when it comes to sunscreen….

Our skin absorbs as much as 70% of what we put on it. Sadly, the regulatory controls around many personal care/beauty products is seriously lacking. A normal, healthy adult is more able to deal with rogue ingredients but when we are in a vulnerable time (conception, pregnancy or have a little and rapidly developing person) being extra vigilant is smart. The recent news around potential dangers of a particular ingredient found in sunscreen is just one example. In this article we take a look at what the research found, why it could be a potential problem and how you can easily avoid:

So what happened?

A study released May 2019 by the Journal of American Medical Association showed some disturbing results when it comes to sunscreen and some red flags particularly if you’re trying to get pregnant, are pregnant or are applying cream to a young child.

Here’s what you need to know:

This principally relates to a common ingredient in sunscreen: Oxybenzone or if you are in Europe/the UK: Benzophenone-3 (on the packaging).

In a nutshell, the study found that the ‘safe’ level of absorption – which is measured by the amount found in the blood being 0.5 ng/ml or below – was FAR exceeded even after just one application. In fact two hours after just one application every person had a level about this ‘safe amount in their blood’. What is even more concerning is by following the manufacturers guidance for the amount to be applied: (4x a day) applied over a four day period gave an average amount of 209.6 ng/ml in the blood!

Why does this matter?

Well in the case of sun cream and this active ingredient in particular, it matters because concerns have been raised that it is an Endocrine Disruptor (ie. knocks our hormones off balance – click here for more) which is not what you want if you are trying to grow another human being or if you have one which is rapidly developing. Further, it has been detected in ‘human breast milk…amniotic fluid, urine and blood’ and concerns have been raised around impact on fetal development.

Bigger picture though it just highlights how little we know about many of the ingredients that are so widely used in the beauty and personal care industry and how little it is regulated. It also goes to show how much our skin absorbs this and takes it into the blood – something that is not to be underestimated.

So, what can you do?

Do you feel fed up that there is yet another thing to worry about and watch out for?! Yeah, I know, I feel the same way. However it is what it is and actually the good news here is that once we’re aware its pretty easy to do something about it:

When it comes to sun cream:

  1. It’s not about not using it of course as that is dangerous too (sigh) instead look out for this ingredient (Oxybezone if you are in the US and Benzophenone-3 in Europe/UK: it is commonly found in spray sunscreens) and simply avoid products that contain it, especially if you are pregnant, trying to be pregnant or are applying it to a little one.

  2. My favourite is by Green People: their organic kids SPF contains none of these nasties. No, I’m not being paid to endorse this product and the good news is that there are others out there too, so you just have to keep your eyes peeled and check out the label.

  3. Cover up: there are plenty of good SPF barrier swim suits for kids with long sleeves and trousers. Add a hat and sunglasses and you’re away. That means less skin exposure/less product needed.

Of course a little bit of sun exposure is good for Vitamin D levels so picking our times in terms of exposure is also smart. You know the drill already: stay away 11-3pm and keep exposure to less than 30 minutes.

What about other cosmetics/personal care?

Alas this is a bit of a minefield given how frighteningly unregulated the industry is. Do not fret however, there are a few basic things you can do to keep your risks to a minimum which is a fantastic step in the right direction. Click here for our quick things to look out for and help you pick the safest products.

However: It doesn’t have to be overwhelming – in a nutshell all you have to do is: forget all the labels like ‘natural’ etc as they mean nothing (and often lull us into a false sense of security) – you just want products with the fewest ingredients possible and go fragrance free – after all you smell sweet enough and your baby certainly does! Easy!

Click here for some of the brands we found to avoid and some that have neither these ingredients nor any added additional nasties.


This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The information on this website has been developed following years of personal research and from referenced and sourced medical research. Before making any changes we strongly recommend you consult a healthcare professional before you begin.

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