Sunscreens have gotten some bad press over the past few years and if you are like many people, you feel confused when it comes to safely protecting yourself and your family from the sun. If you or your child have eczema or sensitive skin you likely are even more concerned about non-irritating skin protection.
Some people find that their eczema improves with exposure to sunlight, especially those with ‘contact eczema’ and ‘discoid eczema,’ while those with ‘photosensitive eczema’ will find that their condition is made worse by exposure to the sun, although this type of eczema is not common. .
Since up to 60% of ingredients in the products you use can get absorbed into your bloodstream, it’s important to choose a product that is pure and natural. Using products with harsh chemicals and ingredients can increase the irritation, toxic load, and stress that your body is already going through with eczema.
Since childhood, you were likely told to lather up with sunscreen every time you went outside. Since the 1960’s sunscreen use has steadily risen year over year, as have the incidences of skin cancer. One cause leading to the increase of skin cancer incidences is the change to our ozone layer and the effect of the sun’s strength increasing. There is strong research that suggests that another reason for this rise is the use of toxic sunscreens.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases an annual guide to sunscreen. In 2016, two-thirds of the sunscreens they analyzed contained hazardous ingredients. This included many of the most popular brands on the market including Neutrogena, Rite Aid, Walgreens “Well” brand, “Up and Up” brand from Target, and Coppertone.
Back in 2014, EWG had reviewed over 2000 sunscreens and over 257 brands. They found that more than 75% of the sunscreens contained toxic chemicals – all of which can exasperate your skin and eczema, especially if you’re already sensitive to harsh ingredients.
If you are like most people in the developed world, you have used sunscreens from these brands. Don’t panic!
In this Sunscreen Guide for Eczema:
In this sunscreen guide for adults, kids and babies, you’ll learn:
- Toxic sunscreen ingredients to watch out for
- The 2 types of sunscreens: non-mineral and mineral (which is better?)
- Recommended Non-Toxic Sunscreens For Adults, Kids and Babies with Eczema
- What are the active ingredients in mineral sunscreens?
- Why is Non-Nano Zinc Oxide the safest, most effective sunblock ingredient?
- 2 Recommended Sunscreen Products for Eczema
- What are some of the best scoring sunscreens?
- What are some of the worst scoring sunscreens?
This guide to sunscreens will educate you on what sunscreen ingredients to avoid, what ingredients to look for and the best store bought brands. It also covers sunscreen free strategies to managing your sun exposure for those of you who are sensitive to the sun, have photosensitive eczema or simply just don’t want to put any ‘stuff’ on your skin. So empower yourself today and read on to learn how to have fun in the sun safely while reaping the benefits of its rays.
Some sun exposure is good for us.
First off, it is important to understand that some sun exposure is important for our health. 20 minutes of sun exposure provides the required daily amount of Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is very important for people with eczema and other autoimmune diseases and low levels of Vitamin D have been linked with these conditions. In addition low vitamin D levels may reduce your risk of as many as 16 different types of cancer, including pancreatic, lung, ovarian, breast, prostate, and skin cancers. Supplemental forms of vitamin D3 are harder for your body to use. If you have eczema, often gut health and digestion is not optimal resulting in poor absorption of the vitamin D supplement.
Moderate sun exposure also provides pain-killing (analgesic) properties, increases fat metabolism, and improves evening alertness. Now that we understand the importance of the sun, read on to learn the ingredients that you need to watch out for.
Toxic sunscreen ingredients to avoid
According to the EWG, the FDA has not established rigorous safety standards for sunscreen ingredient. Based on their research, some common ingredients in sunscreen can enter the bloodstream and have toxic, hormone disrupting, allergy causing and skin irritating effects. This can have devastating effects for everyone but particularly for those with eczema or other autoimmune diseases whose immune systems are already suppressed, hormones are out of whack and skin is irritated.
Spray sunscreens should be avoided. Although they are convenient, they release toxic particles into the air to be inhaled. In addition, it is estimated that only 25% of the correct amount is applied when using aerosol.
Here is the list of ingredients to watch out for. If your sunscreen contains any of these ingredients… toss it! There are so many better options for you and your family
- Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A palmitate)
- Para amino benzoic acid
- Octyl salicyclate
- Menthyl anthranilate
Below is an image from Foodbabe.com:
There are two types of sunscreens:
non-mineral and mineral (some combine both).
1. Non-mineral sunscreens (conventional sunscreens):
According to EWG, non-mineral sunscreens contain “penetration enhancers” to help the product absorb and adhere to the skin. This results in some chemicals being absorbed into the bloodstream and can be measured in blood, urine and breast milk samples. Oxybenzone is the most common ingredient found in sunscreens as well as the chemicals listed above. Oxybenzone and other chemicals in these sunscreens can enter the bloodstream and have toxic, hormone disrupting, allergy causing and skin irritating effects. It would be wise to avoid non-mineral sunscreens.
2. Mineral sunscreens (natural sunscreens):
These sunscreens contain zinc or titanium (and are often called ‘chemical-free’ or ‘natural’ sunscreens). They are not usually absorbed (so do not enter body), are not allergenic and are more effective at blocking UVA rays than non-minerals. These sunscreens are a much better choice than chemical sunscreens. According to EWG, they have the best safety profiles of the choices in the United States.
What are the active ingredients in mineral sunscreens?
Zinc Oxide is the most common ingredient in mineral sunscreens and is highly effective as a sunblock because it is truly effective against UVA, UVB and even UVC rays.
Titanium Dioxide is an ingredient commonly used in mineral sunscreens. According to EWG, Titanium Dioxide is a potential human carcinogen. It does not protect from UVA rays in the same way zinc does, so it is usually added in combination with Zinc Oxide.
Why is Non-Nano Zinc Oxide the safest, most effective sunblock ingredient?
It’s best to choose a non-nano sunscreen because a nano particle may enter the bloodstream, whereas a non-nano will not. The human body is designed to keep toxic substances out as they come in contact with our skin, lungs, and intestines, but nanoparticles are so small that they can infiltrate our defenses and have free access to our bodies. Preliminary scientific research has shown that different types of nanoparticles can be toxic to human tissue and cells, resulting in increased oxidative stress and DNA mutation – which can all affect eczema.
Below is an example of what non-nano zinc oxide in the Badger Sunscreen looks like under a scanned electron microscope.
What’s the deal with SPF ratings?
Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to SPF.
But you will still see chemical sunscreens boasting ultra-high SPFs of 70 and greater. In 2012, the FDA ruled that sunscreens boasting higher SPF’s may be offering false marketing. Higher SPF’s can cause people to think they can stay in the sun for longer; however, this is a misconception, as the protection between SPF 30 and SPF 100 increases only approximately 2.5%,
Here are 2 Recommended Sunscreen Products for Eczema:
There are a lot of great products out there. If you use a different sunscreen than those recommended here, you can check the safety of the product at EWG’s Skin Deep Database here, where they rank the best natural sunscreen, beauty, and body products. I would recommend you to look for products with a safety rating of 3 or below. The closer to zero the better!
(Scroll down to bottom of this post for baby sunscreen products for eczema)
1. Badger Broad Spectrum SPF 30, 2.9oz – You can purchase it here on Amazon
This is my personal favourite sunscreen and I’ve been using it for years! This sunscreen is unscented and contains all natural, safe ingredients. It is organic, BPA free, 100% recyclable, free of animal testing and offers SPF 30 UVA/UVB broad spectrum protection. It is on the more expensive side because it is organic and contains simple and more expensive ingredients.
2. Thinksport Sunscreen SPF 50+, 6oz -You can purchase it here on Amazon
This sunscreen is a great choice and a great value for a natural sunscreen. It is unscented, free of animal testing offers SPF 50 UVA/UVB broad spectrum protection. Reviews of this product are excellent and reported to absorb very well.
If you are sensitive to the sun, have photosensitive eczema or simply don’t want to put any stuff on your skin, your best friend may be sun clothes! Here are some tips for buying sunclothes:
● Look for tightly woven or UV-protective labelled clothing.
● Check the clothing’s label for the UV protection factor (UPF). UPF measures a fabric’s ability to block UV rays from passing through and reaching the skin. The higher the UPF, the less UV radiation reaches the skin.
● The UPF of the clothing is reducing as it ages so you should replace when clothing becomes worn out.
● To prevent overheating these clothes should be lightweight.
● Look for brands that have the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation for sun protective clothing like ‘Coolibar’ (you can buy it here).
Recommended Non-Toxic Sunscreens For Kids and Babies with Eczema
Since your baby’s immune system is still growing and fragile. It’s important to use a safe, non-toxic sunscreen – especially if they’re already suffering from eczema.
Sunscreen is okay to use on babies 6 months or older. Younger babies, however, should use other forms of sun protection.
If your baby is 6 months or older, liberally use sunscreen. Also, avoid exposing your baby to the sun during peak hours — generally 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — and dress your baby in protective clothing, a hat with a brim and sunglasses.
If your baby is younger than 6 months, keep him or her out of direct sunlight. Protect your baby from sun exposure by dressing him or her in protective clothing, a hat with a brim and sunglasses. Make sure he or she doesn’t get overheated, however.
What are some of the best scoring sunscreens?
Similarly to the eczema-safe adult sunscreens mentioned above, here are several sunscreens that have great reviews and all natural ingredients:
The Trukid Sunscreen is specifically designed for eczema and children! Unlike other sunscreens in the Trukid line it is unscented, reef friendly and offers SPF30 UVA/UVB broad spectrum protection. This product is biodegradable with 100% recyclable, BPA-free packaging.
What are some of the worst scoring sunscreens?
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), some of the worst children and baby sunscreens for eczema include (the links below show their EWG rating, product toxicity and ingredients):
● Banana Boat Kids Max Protect & Play Sunscreen
● Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Stick
● Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Stick
37 products marketed to children earn an EWG sunscreen rating of 7 to 10, the worst scores for products in the EWG Sunscreen Guide.
Many of them have harsh ingredients, including oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate. Four of them are also aerosol sprays that can expose sensitive young lungs to potentially harsh chemicals.
Hopefully you are now feeling empowered and capable of making healthy sunscreen choices for yourself and your family. Wherever your summer adventures or winter getaways take you, you can’t go wrong if you are armed with a natural sunscreen and cover up clothing (including a hat) and practice moderate sun exposure.
If your eczema is not made worse by the sun, aim for 20 minutes of sun exposure every day without sunscreen and try to expose 40% of your skin. This allows your body to get the required amount of vitamin D. For time spent in the sun over 20 minutes, apply natural sunscreen, and try to limit time spent in the sun mid day by taking shade or spending some time indoors.
But most importantly, be present, live in the moment and have fun!
https://www.babobotanicals.com/Kates_Blog/why-is- non-nano- zinc-oxide- the-safest- most-
http://www.goddessgarden.com/blog/nano-vs- non-nano- zinc-and- titanium
Learn more about my Conqueror Dry Skin Soothing Balm or visit my eBook links below to learn more about how you can heal your skin:
- The Elimination Diet: A Guide to Conquer Eczema & Food Sensitivities
- Healing Eczema: Why Dieting Is Not Enough
- The Power of Thoughts: How Mindset Shifts Can Help Eliminate Eczema
- My Detailed Eczema Healing Treatment Plan
Click here for more eczema resources or visit my list of recommended products for eczema!
Chelsea Lye is a Georgetown/Toronto Ontario based certified STOTT Pilates Instructor, Kettlebell trainer, Registered Yoga Instructor, Lole ambassador and a student at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. She currently teaches at the Toronto Athletic Club where she is the Director of Pilates and Yoga. She also provides nutrition and fitness coaching online. Chelsea’s battle with autoimmune disease started in 2006 with an outbreak of Guttate Psoriasis all over her body that lasted for over 6 months. Chelsea’s personal hobby of competitive endurance sport racing and training was halted when her health started to deteriorate in 2015 when she was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. She has successfully managed her condition through diet, supplements and lifestyle changes. Her passion for helping others with autoimmune diseases like Eczema, Psoriasis, Hashimoto’s, MS Graves and many more have fuelled her interest to research and write about these disorders. Chelsea can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You have a new fan! Love your blog and this post!
What about Vanicream sunscreen? I heard it was good for sensitive skin but is it harmful? Thanks!