What chemicals are in sunscreen?

Hello, sun-savvy readers! Today, we're unraveling the mysteries of sunscreen ingredients. Have you ever wondered what chemicals are in sunscreen and how they work to protect your skin?

Join us on this enlightening journey as we dive into sunscreen chemicals: what they're called, what they do and why we need them. So, grab your sun hat, slather on some SPF, and let's explore the key players behind your favorite sunscreens!


The Current Sunscreen Options:

Before we dive into the chemical details, let's understand the primary types of sunscreen:

1. Chemical Sunscreens: These sunscreens contain organic compounds that work by absorbing UV rays and converting them into heat, thereby protecting your skin.

2. Physical (Mineral) Sunscreens: These sunscreens contain mineral ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which create a physical barrier on the skin to reflect and scatter UV rays.


What Do Chemicals Do For Sun Protection?

Let's take a closer look at the common chemicals you'll find in chemical sunscreens:

Oxybenzone: This ingredient absorbs both UVA and UVB rays, making it a broad-spectrum protector. However, there have been concerns about its potential impact on coral reefs, leading to the development of reef-safe alternatives.

Avobenzone: Known for its excellent UVA protection, avobenzone absorbs these rays to prevent skin damage. It is often combined with other chemicals to enhance stability and efficacy.

Octinoxate: Octinoxate primarily absorbs UVB rays and is often used in combination with other ingredients for broad-spectrum protection. Similar to oxybenzone, there are concerns about its potential environmental impact.

Homosalate: Homosalate is an ingredient that primarily absorbs UVB rays. It is often used in combination with other sunscreen chemicals to create a broad-spectrum formula.

Octocrylene: Octocrylene acts as a stabilizer and enhances the effectiveness of other sunscreen ingredients. It also provides UVB protection.


Physical (Mineral) Sunscreen Ingredients:

Now, let's explore the key ingredients commonly found in physical sunscreens:

a. Zinc Oxide: Zinc oxide is a mineral ingredient that forms a physical barrier on the skin, reflecting and scattering both UVA and UVB rays. It is known for its broad-spectrum protection and is well-tolerated by most skin types.

b. Titanium Dioxide: Like zinc oxide, titanium dioxide is a mineral that provides broad-spectrum protection by reflecting and scattering UV rays. It is often used in combination with other ingredients to optimize its effectiveness.


The Safety of Sunscreen Ingredients:

You might have heard concerns about the safety of sunscreen ingredients. However, it's essential to understand that these ingredients have undergone rigorous testing and are considered safe for use when applied correctly. Regulatory bodies, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Commission, review and approve sunscreen ingredients to ensure their safety and efficacy.


Choosing the Right Sunscreen for You:

When selecting a sunscreen, consider your skin type, preferences, and the level of sun protection you require. Some individuals may have sensitivities or allergies to specific sunscreen ingredients. If you experience any adverse reactions, discontinue use and consult a dermatologist for alternative options.


Sunscreen and Environmental Concerns:

In recent years, the potential impact of sunscreen ingredients on the environment, particularly coral reefs, has gained attention. Oxybenzone and octinoxate, commonly found in chemical sunscreens, have been found to contribute to coral bleaching. This makes mineral based alternatives much more friendly, despite their common flaws of thick greasy application.


Bottom line, there really is no sunscreen that is better than the other. It simply comes down to your own skin type, personal needs and ultimately what is going to give you the protection you require most.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.