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No Loose Powder Sunscreens
Loose powder sunscreens such in the form of mineral makeup are designed to be applied on the face and scalp. Although they contain zinc and titanium particles that offer strong UV protection, it is difficult for users to judge if they are applying a thick and even coat.
But the bigger problem is inhaling the tiny zinc and titanium particles. Based on studies by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, inhaled titanium dioxide is “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” FDA’s current rules no longer allow loose powers to advertise an SPF or make claims of sun protection. But the FDA granted small companies until the end of December 2013 to remove their powders from the market. Be on the lookout and avoid loose powder sunscreens.
No Spray Sunscreens
Although ever so convenient, like loose powdered sunscreen, there is a growing concern that these sprays pose serious inhalation risks. Although the FDA has expressed concern about the safety of spray sunscreens and are currently researching into inhalation risks, companies continue to turn them out.
If you must run spray sunscreen, it is best to spray it on your hands and then rub the sunscreen onto your skin. But that basically defeats the purpose of using a spray-on product, so you’re better off with using lotion-based sunscreen.
No Sunscreen Towelettes
The FDA ended the sale of sunscreen wipes and towelettes, but these can still be purchased online and some are even marketed as safe for babies. The biggest concern is that these towelettes do not get enough sunscreen on your skin to ensure sun protection. This is another example where the convenience is not worth the risk.
No Combined Sunscreen/Bug Repellents
“Studies shown that combining sunscreen with DEET caused the skin to absorb insect repellent more than three times faster than when used alone”, according to WebMD. Also, you’ll need to reapply sunscreen more often than bug repellent, so using a product that combines both is not a good idea. Luckily, bugs are typically not a problem during the hours when UV exposure peaks, so skip these combination products.
Keep In Mind
As summer ends and fall begins, it is essential to not forget that UV rays can damage your skin yearlong. Overcast clouds may block out sunshine, but the UV rays still get through and many times, we let our guard down believing dark skies equals less UV exposure.
Spray-on sunscreen is quite convenient but inhaling its questionable chemicals is a health risk. The chemicals used in rub-in sunscreen for years and years are still not yet fully understood, so why inhale them? Furthermore, spray-on sunscreens also make it too easy to apply too little or miss a spot, thus leaving bare skin exposed to harmful UV rays.
According to the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG), the two major types of sunscreen available in the U.S. are "chemical" and "mineral" sunscreens. “Chemical” sunscreens are more common, and its active ingredients such as PABA or PARSOL 1789 and oxybenzone penetrate into the bloodstream and mimic the body’s natural hormones and may confuse the body's Endochrine system, which regulates our mood, growth and development, metabolism, and reproductive processes.
"Mineral" sunscreens are considered somewhat safer, as their active ingredients are from natural elements such as zinc or titanium. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide provide strong sun protection with few health concerns, and don't break down in the sun. Thus, EWG recommends to sticking with "mineral" sunscreens while taking other precautions such as looking for shade, wearing protective clothing and eyewear, and avoiding the noontime sun.
EWG recommends avoiding spray-on sunscreens entirely. "These ingredients are not meant to be inhaled into the lungs." Furthermore, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is exploring the risks of inhaling spray sunscreens, which are greatest among children.
Here a few examples of sunscreens recommended by the EWG:
Click here to see the complete list of sunscreens that meet EWG's criteria.
The sun’s UV rays are stronger than ever and with awareness that tanning beds are not a safer alternative, many sun enthusiasts have turned to sunless tanning products. Sunless tanning lotions and sprays work by staining the outermost layer of the skin, promising consumers that year round ‘golden brown glow’ without the harmful effects of UV radiation rays.
Sunless tanning lotions and sprays have come a long way. Just a few years ago, sunless tanners were heavily criticized for leaving an unnatural, pumpkin orange tan.
Despite skin cancer warnings, suntans are still glorified in the US and polls show that having a light brown tan is still regarded as fashionable and attractive. But is there really such a thing as a 'safe tan'?
The active ingredient in sunless tanning lotions and sprays is a FDA approved chemical called dihydroxyacetone, or DHA. The sugars in DHA react with the proteins in the outermost layer of the skin to produce a golden brown hue that lasts until it sheds off. Although there are no studies that looked at the long-term health effects of DHA, dermatologists have initially concluded that there is no reason to expect any danger. Also, the FDA has only received a few reports of allergic rashes from using sunless tanner lotion products.
The important thing to keep in mind is that DHA is FDA approved for external use. Recently toxicologists and lung experts have been weighing in on the potential dangers of inhaling tanning agents from sunless tanning sprays. Therefore, the FDA has not approved the use of DHA in tanning booths as an all-over spray. Using a protective eye cover and a nose plug is highly recommended to prevent the chemicals in the mist from entering the body.
In conclusion, sunless tanning lotion is safer to use than sunless tanning sprays. If you do opt for the spray, be sure to cover your eyes, nose and lips to avoid inhalation and ingestion.
Energizer Holdings, the maker of Banana Boat sunscreen, is recalling some half-million bottles of spray-on lotion after reports that a handful of people have caught on fire after applying the product and coming in contact with an open flame.
Twenty three varieties of the UltraMist Banana Boat sunscreen line will be pulled off shelves due to supposed faulty value that is over applying the product. As a result, the sunscreen is taking longer to dry and is more susceptible to catch on fire near open flames.
In the past year, there have been 4 reported burn cases from using spray-on sunscreen in the United States. In May, Brett Sigworth of Stow, MA suffered second-degree burns on his ear, chest, and back after stepping in front of a barbecue grill shorty after applying aerosol spray-on sunscreen. In September, Mary Shoulders of Chesapeake, VA suffered from third-degree burns on her arm after it caught of fire after applying spray-on sunscreen and returning to welding.
If you are near a barbecue, sparks, or even cigarettes, play it safe and stick to lotion-based sunscreen.