5 Sunscreen Ingredients to Avoid & What to Use Instead

by | Updated: June 21st, 2018 | Read time: 2 minutes

Although they may offer excellent protection from the sun’s rays, conventional sunscreens can also provide exposure to a wide range of hazardous or irritating chemicals. It’s also important to keep in mind that many (if not all) of these toxic chemicals cause harm to our oceans by damaging the coral reefs and other aquatic life. When shopping for SPF this summer, go natural and keep in mind the following five sunscreen ingredients to avoid.

Woman Applying Natural Sunscreen at the Beach | Vitacost.com/Blog

1. Propylene Glycol

A major component of antifreeze, you’ll also find propylene glycol in sunscreen and other personal care products such as toothpaste. This hazardous substance may be irritating to the skin and can be harmful if ingested by humans or animals. Pass on this ingredient, and choose an all-natural sunscreen instead, like Kiss My Face Cool Sport Air-Powered Spray.

Kiss My Face Sport

2. Parabens

In addition to sunscreen, parabens are found in many cosmetic and personal care products, including makeup, moisturizer, shaving cream and more. Usually listed as methylparaben, butylparaben or propylparaben, these potentially hazardous compounds can cause hormone disruption in the body by mimicking estrogen. Go paraben-free with Alba Botanica’s Hawaiian aloe vera sunscreen, which has an SPF of 30. Alba Botanica Hawaiian Sunscreen | Vitacost.com/Blog

3. Diazalidinyl Urea

Ever get a rash from your regular sunscreen? The problem ingredient may be diazalidonyl urea. This chemical preservative acts as a formaldehyde releaser and can cause skin irritations in some individuals. A safer bet for sensitive skin is Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc Sunscreen for Extra Sensitive Skin, which also is unscented for sensitive noses.

Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc Sunscreen For Extra Sensitive Skin | Vitacost.com/Blog

4. Octinoxate

This chemical is included in sunscreen formulas due to its ability to absorb UV-B rays and prevent them from penetrating your skin. Unfortunately, octinoxate may be linked to skin irritations, endocrine disruption and poor cellular health. Avoid this chemical by sticking with a natural sunscreen like Goddess Garden Organics Everyday Natural Sunscreen spray

Goddess Garden Organics Everyday Natural Sunscreen | Vitacost.com/Blog

5. Oxybenzone

Even though you might not have heard of it, chances are there’s oxybenzone in your system. The Centers for Disease Control recently reported that 97 percent of Americans have detectable levels of this common sunscreen ingredient in their bodies. Oxybenzone has been linked to skin irritations, hormone disruption and low birth weight. The good news is that you won’t find this ingredient in Nature’s Gate Aqua Block 50, which is great whether you’re in or outside of the pool.

Nature's Gate Aqua Block

Looking for more sunscreen-savvy tips? To add to what you just learned, here are 6 more mistakes people make when choosing & using sunscreen.