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Can You Find a Good Sunscreen Without Oxybenzone?

Oxybenzone (aka BP-3) is found in many effective sunscreens, but it is a suspected hormone disruptor. Are there sunscreens without it?

In the last few years, alert consumers have sought sunscreens that do not contain endocrine disruptors. Sometimes, this can be quite a challenge. Two consumer organizations have recently issued their recommendations for 2018, but their lists are very different. One took this concern into account and the other did not. Some readers have have asked about sunscreen without oxybenzone.

Looking for Sunscreen with No Hormone Disruptors:

Q. In the Consumer Reports ratings on sunscreen, most of the top ranked lotions contain oxybenzone (a.k.a. benzophenone-3 or BP-3). You have warned previously about the possible hormone-disrupting or endocrine-disrupting effects of this chemical in many articles. What are we to do?

A. You are right that many of Consumer Reports’ (CR) top rated sunscreens contain oxybenzone. Nevertheless, the organization acknowledges that the chemical contributes to coral bleaching. CR also notes that Hawaii has banned sunscreens containing ozybenzone starting in 2021.

EWG Rating Sunscreens:

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit organization promoting human health with attention to environmental effects.

It warns that oxybenzone

“is a toxic chemical that is harmful to our health and our planet. It’s linked to hormone disruption and allergic skin reactions in people, as well as the bleaching of coral reefs and coral death.”

That’s why the organization is campaigning to have oxybenzone removed from sunscreens. EWG found it in a majority of the products they reviewed this year, but they also found more than 200 products that do not contain BP-3. You can check the list at EWG.org.

Common Sense for Sun Exposure:

Don’t forget that common sense can go a long way to preventing a burn. Try to schedule outdoor activities early or late rather than between 10 am and 2 pm when the sun may be most intense. A hat and sunglasses are essential gear, along with long sleeves when they are practical. Don’t be lulled into complacency by an overcast sky. You can burn even when the sun is not casting a shadow.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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