The People's Perspective on Medicine

Seeking Hormone-Free Sunscreen

Q. I recently read that some sunscreens contain hormones that can interfere with young children. I am an avid user of sunscreen for me and my children and it concerns me about my 9-year-old daughter. What ingredients should I be avoiding? I do not want hormones absorbing through my skin or especially my 9 year old.

A. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a consumer advocacy organization that has delved into sunscreens in great depth. The organization recommends against hormone-disrupting sunscreen chemicals such as oxybenzone.
Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate) is also on their hit list because of research suggesting it might increase skin cancer risk. Although the final word is not in on this, the EWG “recommends that prudent consumers avoid vitamin A-laden sunscreens.”
So what does the Environmental Working Group recommend in the way of safe ingredients, especially for children and people with sensitive skin? These folks say that minerals such as zinc or titanium are their first choice. These sun blockers provide top-notch UVA (ultraviolet A) protection without the kinds of hormone-disrupting chemicals found in so many other sunscreens.
Because of this recommendation from such a trustworthy organization as EWG, we are pleased that Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen is now a sponsor of our radio show and website for the summer. The Blue Lizard Sensitive formula is fragrance free and paraben free and represents a great sunscreen option. Its active ingredients are precisely what is recommended by EWG, zinc and titanium.
If you are tired of smelling like coconuts, bananas or some other exotic fruit, consider a fragrance-free sunscreen. You are less likely to attract flying pests such as yellow jackets or mosquitoes.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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This is great stuff. I just ordered more from the Blue Lizard site, but the promo code doesn’t seem to be working any more. :(

EWG [Environmental Working Group] rates Coppertone Water Babies Pure and Simple – fragrance-free, zinc oxide-based – even higher than the Blue Lizard product. And it’s much easier to find locally than Blue Lizard.
It’s water-resistant, too.
I’ve used both, and I like the Pure & Simple product. Both stay on very well – although I’d give a slight edge to Blue Lizard.

This is a question–
Are there other ingredients to be avoided, which may be similar to oxybenzone? I’m thinking that they change the name a bit (like fruit concentrate for syrup) to disguise it. For instance– my sunscreen has octinoxate and octisalate–are they related to oxybenzone? thanks

I have heard mixed reports about the benefits of SPFs higher than 30 not being effective. If that is true, why are they being marketed? My family is fair-skinned and freckled and have always gone for the higher #.

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