Ingredients in sunscreen may pose risk

Published On: Jul 08 2014 11:15:00 PM EDT
Updated On: Jul 09 2014 12:05:27 PM EDT

Protecting yourself from the sun is important, but what's also important is knowing what's inside of your sunscreen.

Protecting yourself from the sun is important, but what's also important is knowing what's inside of your sunscreen.

[WEB EXTRA: Safe sunscreen guide]

Beth Wilson lathers her 4-year-old son, James, with sunscreen from head to toe.

"We're putting sun screen on all the time especially in the summer we're in the pool every single day," Wilson said.

Equally important to Wilson is what's in the sunscreen she uses.

"Over the past couple years I've learned a ton.  I spend a lot of time reading labels," she said.

Flip over your sunscreen. Take a look at the roughly 25 ingredients. The environmental working group or EWG -- an organization that focuses on product safety -- says some of these chemicals are cause for concern.

Like Oxybenzone. This chemical penetrates the skin, gets into the bloodstream and acts like estrogen in the body. It can also trigger allergic reactions.  One study links oxybenzone to endometriosis.

And look out for Retinyl Palmitate which the EWG claims may speed development of skin tumors and lesions.

 Those chemicals are why dermatologist, Dr. Kathleen Judge prefers her patients to use physical sunblocks.

"You have less problems with irritation and burning that you would with the chemical sunblocks," Judge said.

Physical sunblocks are also more heat stable. Chemical blocks tend to lose their potency after a while.

One toxin-free sunscreen is called 'Protect'.

It's maker claims it's SPF 32 and prevents against UVA and UVB rays.

Kate Strickland is Vice President of Healthy Home company and explains “Protect” has only 8 ingredients all of them are actually edible. Now she doesn't advise anyone to ingest the sunscreen, but says, "if your child should get their hands on the sunscreen and ingest its completely safe and completely natural."

It also does not contain any preservatives, like parabins, that have been linked to cancer.

Judge says figure out what works for you, because anything is better than nothing.

"As a dermatologist I see the damage that it causes and spend a good portion of my day trying to fix the damage that its caused," Judge said.

As for Wilson, she has chosen Protect sunscreen to protect her little one and says that many of her friends are looking for alternatives like this.

"Now that I found one that I love I am telling all my friends about it," she said.

EWG also recommends staying away from Spray Sunscreens -- they may pose serious inhalation risks and are not approved by the FDA.

Avoid super high SPF. Products with sky-high SPF’s may protect against sunburn but could leave your skin exposed to damaging UVA rays. That's anything with SPF over 50.

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