The shady side of sunscreen?
With temperatures edging towards 30 degrees Celsius around Europe this weekend you might be thinking of topping up your sunscreen supplies. However, ensuring what you buy does not contain chemicals harmful to human health and the environment should also be front of mind.
Scientists have found that some of the chemicals used to filter out harmful UV rays are suspected endocrine disrupting chemicals, (EDCs), which intervene with the normal functioning of the human hormonal system. Exposure to these chemicals has been linked to reproductive issues, obesity and hormone related cancers.
To assess which sunscreens contain EDCs and other chemicals of concern, researchers at the Danish Consumer Council recently reviewed the ingredients in 36 sunscreens and graded their chemical content. 16 were found to contain one or more substances suspected to be endocrine disruptor chemicals (EDCs) and 5 were found to have other chemicals harmful to the environment or irritants to the skin. Fortunately, 15 were found to be free of EDCs and any other substances known to be harmful to humans or the environment.
When buying sunscreen products look to avoid ones containing parabens, phthalates and oxybenzone, the most common UV filter used in sunscreens around the world. They are all linked to hormone disruption.
Beyond substituting your sunscreen, using other methods to reduce sun exposure is another good strategy. The World Health Organisation also recommends staying in the shade and wearing protective clothing.
Protecting yourself from UV rays doesn’t need to come at the expense of exposure to harmful chemicals. Enjoy the warm weather this weekend and stay safe!
You can find out more here about which substances to avoid in the Danish Consumer Council’s research.
You can see pictures of the products they tested here.
For more information on chemicals in cosmetics and skin products check out our website here.
Read the World Health Organisation’s advice on staying safe in the sun.