Don’t let new guidelines confuse you—here are the safest ingredients for sun protection.

The FDA is taking a new look at sunscreen safety and effectiveness. Today’s ingredients haven’t been evaluated in decades, while new science has emerged. No ingredients are being banned, but results of the review won’t be in before you hit the beach this summer. Here’s a snapshot of how the agency currently views 16 active ingredients that may be in your sunscreen:

Safe Sunscreen Ingredients: 

Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, found in many natural products. Holistic health professionals have been recommending these skin-protecting minerals for years.

Sunscreen Ingredients With Known Safety Issues: 

PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid) and trolamine salicylate, which are rarely found in today’s sunscreens. PABA can trigger skin allergies, and trolamine salicylate can increase bleeding.

Sunscreen Ingredients That Need More Study: 

The FDA has not concluded that the following 12 ingredients are unsafe, but is collecting additional testing data from manufacturers to re-examine safety and effectiveness.

  1. Avobenzone
  2. Cinoxate
  3. Dioxybenzone
  4. Ensulizole
  5. Homosalate
  6. Meradimate
  7. Octinoxate
  8. Octisalate
  9. Octocrylene
  10. Oxybenzone
  11. Padimate O
  12. Sulisobenzone

Although these ingredients are not being prohibited, there have been concerns about their safety. For example, oxybenzone may disrupt hormones and contribute to cancer and birth defects.

Other Sunscreen Issues

The FDA is planning to require more detailed label information on sunscreens, and to re-evaluate the effectiveness of certain ingredients used to block UVB and UVA rays. Both types of rays can contribute to skin cancer, but only UVB rays cause sunburn. Sunscreens that are “broad spectrum” protect against both types of rays, but current regulations don’t require labels to disclose the level of protection from UVA rays. SPF refers only to UVB rays. Meanwhile, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are recognized as effective blocks of both types of UV rays.

Did you know? 

SPF refers only to protection from UVB rays, not UVA rays, which cause sunburn.

For More Info: Check out the Guide to Sunscreens from the nonprofit Environmental Working Group at ewg.org.

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