SIX Sunscreen SHOCKERS! What You Need to Know to Protect Yourself!

by Guest Blogger on June 28, 2012 · 33 comments

Summer is here and that means relaxing beach days and festive pool parties. However, I cringe at the sun protection products I see other people buying and using and here are (6) shocking reasons why…

Shocker # 1 SPF is not an accurate predictor of protection! You may be surprised to learn the SPF number on your sunscreen rates only protection from UVB rays, those that cause sunburn (think ‘B’ for bad burn); not UVA rays, those that cause wrinkling, leathering, aging skin and long-term damage (think ‘A’ for aging).  Crazy, right?  You can be baking in the sun, not burning, and be led to believe you are protecting yourself from skin cancer.  You could, however, be very wrong.  You need to protect against both UVA and UVB rays.  Both rays cause melanoma, and UVA rays are constant all year long.

Shocker #2 – Chemical “active ingredient” oxybenzone is a “no-no.”  I find this ingredient in almost every sunscreen so prominently featured on the end caps at local drugstores and “big box” stores; including kids sunscreen.   Oxybenzone penetrates the skin, promoting indirect DNA damage which causes the most lethal form of skin cancer: malignant melanoma. You read that correctly, your sunscreen could be causing cancer!  Instead, use a mineral sunscreen (think zinc) to keep the sun protection on the surface of the skin.  Zinc oxide provides broad spectrum UVA /UVB protection without nasty harmful chemicals. Important note: oxybenzone is also a known endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC).  These are now being linked with neurological disorders as shown by Dr. Philip Landrigan of Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, who just released a list of the Top 10 environmental toxic chemicals linked with autism, ADHD and neurological disorders!  And guess what?  Endocrine disruptors came in at number six on the list! Future moms, avoid it at all costs.

Shocker #3 Your mineral sunscreens – zinc and titanium are most likely nanoparticle size.  What exactly does this mean?  Remember the lifeguard at the pool with the white stripes on his or her nose?  This is what zinc looks like.  Most manufacturers use tiny particles (1,000 times smaller than a strand of hair) of zinc or titanium to make them easier to spread on and disappear. The problem is research reveals that those tiny particles – called nanoparticles – cross the cell barrier and enter organs including the brain in humans.   I, for one, am not willing to be a guinea pig on this.

Shocker #4 – An ingredient that enhances skin cancer lesions is found in many sunscreens! I know – crazy, right?  The FDA released a report last spring that retinyl palmitate enhances skin cancer lesions in the presence of sunlight as found in animal research. Again, with the guinea pig thing, I’m definitely avoiding it and hope you are too!

Shocker #5 – The paraben preservatives in your sunscreen are also known endocrine disruptors, and suspected carcinogens.  Avoid sunscreens (and any other products) with parabens – methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, etc.   Also, a recent study by the Univ of Chicago showed that methylparaben, in combination with BPA, turned healthy breast cells into cancer cells and rendered tamoxifin ineffective. Avoid all parabens.

Shocker #6  – Manufacturers can legally hide hundreds of toxic chemicals in the ingredient “fragrance.”  That coconut smell is not real, and most likely comes with a dose of phthalates (yup, more endocrine disruptors!) and other toxic chemicals. Avoid synthetic fragrances. Period.

How to find the safest sunscreens? – Read labels and look up your sunscreen on the Skin Deep cosmetic database, because it really is “all about the ingredients.”  The database ranks products on a 0-10 toxicity scale. The sunscreen I used to use is ranked an 8 in toxicity (ouch).  All of those on end caps in your big box stores are ranked 6 through 9 (ie: the “highest toxic hazard” range).   Some of these contain ALL four endocrine disrupting offenders discussed above – octinoxate, retinyl palmitate, parabens and fragrance.  Now, think of how many times you reapply sunscreen to yourself and your little ones in hopes of daily ‘protection.’

Steps to Safe Sunscreen Application

  • Apply sunscreen liberally to dry skin 30 minutes before going outdoors; taking extra precaution to cover exposed areas.
  • Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, or half that time when near the water and after swimming; showering; or sweating.
  • Avoid exposure from the strongest sun (between 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.) when possible.
  • Cover up, go wild and top if off with a great hat!

We are really proud of Ava Susncreen 33.5spf.  It is a great moisturizer that doubles as a sunscreen. It includes five certified organic, botanical ingredients with no chemicals harmful to humans or the environment.  Yes, you do need to rub it in a bit but, based on all of this information, isn’t a little elbow grease worth it?  Now, sit back and enjoy a relaxing summertime read, the Ava Sunscreen ingredient list: zinc oxide (21%, non-nanoparticle), beeswax (organic), theobroma cacao seed butter (organic cocoa butter), butyrospermum parkii (organic shea butter), olea europaea (organic olive oil), simmondsia chinensis (organic jojoba oil).

Guest blogger, Ava Anderson, founded Ava Anderson Non Toxic with the support of her family after learning about the dangers of toxic chemicals in personal care products. Her goal is to share this message in every family room in this country, and provide safe, organic and natural products without harmful chemicals for humans and the environment.  She now has many product categories for men, women and children – avaSKIN,  avaBODY, avaHAIR, avaSUN, avaBABY, avaSCENTS, avaFACE and avaHOME!   Learn more about Ava and visit her company online HERE!

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelli June 28, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Very informative article! Thank you:)


Ron & Lisa June 29, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Glad you enjoyed it Kelli!


Jeannie June 28, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Ava – thanks for the great tips and I love your sunscreen! I find the couple extra rubs with your sunscreen are totally worth it if it means I’m not schmereing terrible chemicals all over my body.


Jodi June 28, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Ava to the RESCUE. I am a mom of 3 amazing kids, 2 girls ages 10 and 12 and an 8 year old son. I am also a proud wife of a very loving husband, and I’m a 9 year breast cancer survivor at the age of 32. It is VITAL to me that I never knowingly put anything on my body or that of those I love, with ingredients that are known to cause cancer or any other harmful implications. When I found out that most sunscreens on the market do just that, increase my chances of cancer I was beyond FURIOUS. Ava heard the cries of many and has the BEST sunscreen out there. Not only does it rub in smoothly (no vampire kids) it has no harsh scent either. My kids don’t fight me to apply it and I have total peace of mind that they will be protected. All of Ava’s products (and there are a ton) give me the peace of mind I’m always searching for as a mom. Thanks AVA!!!!


Ron & Lisa June 29, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Hi Jodi,
Thanks so much for sharing your personal story. We have NO doubt it will helps others who are in denial of the existence of these harmful toxic chemicals in traditional products. Ignorance really isn’t bliss and being proactive and preventative pays huge dividends when it comes to health :) Thanks Ava for your great product line!


Trina June 28, 2012 at 2:25 pm

It makes me cringe every time I see someone lathering themselves and their children in toxic chemical sunscreen. Love the article and love the sunscreen as well. It works fantastic and I wouldn’t use anything else. Please keep up the good work with your products and your message! People need to know and be aware!


Cindy June 28, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Great informative article again on Ron and Thanks for the article Ava. My family uses the Ava Anderson sunscreen when we are out and about at the zoo for the afternoon or the park, its great. I love that there is not a chemical smell (obviously cuz no chemicals) and the lotiony feel is nice, Thumbs up!


Ron & Lisa June 29, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Triple thumbs up Cindy! Thanks for sharing your personal feedback :)


Catherine June 28, 2012 at 6:29 pm

I love your sunscreen. “Regular” sunscreen is a chemical stew. And if you apply and re-apply all day like you should, think how many times you are exposing your children to dangerous ingredients… None of that with Ava! That is all we use in my house, adults and children (really fair skin, light hair children) and we will never go back!


ERIN June 28, 2012 at 9:00 pm

What a great article; thank you, Ava for all the information and for giving her the opportunity to share, Ron and Lisa! Shocker #2 regarding the oxybenzone still gets me every time. It was one of the first toxic ingredients I learned about; it was in a moisturizer I had been using for over 10+ years.:( Ava, you shared even more information that I’ll be able to pass along to others. I am so, SO GLAD to have found Ava Anderson Non-Toxic Sunscreen for myself and my family. On every level – smell, texture, protection – it is just FANTASTIC! Thank you, Ava!


Jo June 28, 2012 at 9:36 pm

I have used several mineral based sunscreens trying to find one that will go on smoothly and actually work. Ava’s is by far my favorite! The Chemical based sunscreens are just NOT worth the health risk. Especially the spray on kind that you are also breathing in!! Thank you Ron and Lisa for inviting Ava to share this important imformation. This is a GREAT article!


Ron & Lisa June 29, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Thanks Jo! We agree and enjoy having Ava as our regular contributor. It is wonderful to hear everyone’s personal story and feedback. We agree completely….toxic products are SO not worth the risk.


Elysia June 29, 2012 at 4:00 am

Thank you for such great information!


Ron & Lisa June 29, 2012 at 12:36 pm

You’re welcome Elysia on behalf of us (Ron & Lisa) and Ava Anderson for creating such a healthy line of products we can all trust!


Beth June 29, 2012 at 5:17 am

Heading to Disney in a few weeks, and will be loaded up with Ava sunscreen. Last time we were there, I spent an hour in a sunscreen aisle looking for something that wasn’t loaded with toxic chemicals. Scary stuff. So glad we have a safe alternative this time!


Ron & Lisa July 2, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Have fun at Disney Beth! I’m sure you saved your health and some ‘green’ in your wallet too by not having to buy toxic alternatives in the gift shop :)


Christy June 29, 2012 at 12:36 pm

GREAT information! Ava, I love your sunscreen. It is the only thing I put on my family. It truly is the SAFEST sunscreen on the market. Thank you for continuing to educate…and of course for making awesome products! Your impact on this world will be immeasurable..already is! <3


PJ June 29, 2012 at 4:07 pm

“Fragrance” is a hiding spot for toxins? What next? Thank you for this informative article. Learned so much. I will be giving Ava Non-toxic products a try.


Ron & Lisa July 2, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Yes, PJ! We cover the toxicity of fragrances quite a bit on this website, but will be doing a future post dedicated to the dangers of what that little word really means. Hundreds and hundreds of synthetic chemicals can hide behind it as manufacturers are protected by their ‘trade secrets!’ Stay tuned for more :) Knowledge is power!


Shirley June 29, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Our family just got back from our beach vacation. We took along our Ava Anderson Non-Toxic products. It was great to have the grandchildren not get burned while playing. As a matter of fact, this year we all escaped the dreaded sunburn. We use Ava Baby products on my youngest baby granddaughter. No more diaper rash for her. The products are absolute pleasure.


Suzanne June 30, 2012 at 11:31 am

This is so interesting. I have just started researching sunscreens and I am pretty worried by what I am reading out there…especially for my kids.


Ron & Lisa July 2, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Hi Suzanne,
Thanks for sharing. It is ‘shocking’ when you begin to understand that many products hide behind fancy labels and false claims of health. We strive to educate and empower here at and are grateful to brands that are transparent with their ingredients and really are safe such as Ava Anderson Non-Toxic :)


Vanessa June 30, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Wow! I had heard sunscreen was toxic but I never knew exactly why… that’s disgusting! So glad I found Ava so now I am free from skin cancer and harmful chemicals! And now my friends and family are too!!


Ron & Lisa July 2, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Vanessa –
We appreciate your feedback and would have to wholeheartedly agree with your ‘disgusting’ description of toxic products! So glad you & your family are now safe… empowered…and healthy :)


Christy June 1, 2013 at 8:29 am

I just want to reitterate how helpful this article is! I have pinned it on my Pinterest Board and share with people ALL the time!!!


Ron & Lisa June 3, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Wonderful – thank you for sharing Christy! Word of mouth is so important in getting this essential information out and social media is perfect for this. Be green + be healthy :)


Sue May 21, 2014 at 7:33 am

I am confused.
In “Shocker #2” you suggest that a mineral sunscreen is better, but then in “Shocker #3” you list mineral sunscreens as also being harmful. Which is the better alternative?


Julia May 25, 2014 at 9:45 am

The “shocker #3” is saying that nanoparticle size minerals are what to avoid. Minerals, such as zinc are the way to go, but not in nanoparticle form :) The difference is that zinc in nanoparticle form is easier to rub in.


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