What other chemicals should we avoid in sunscreen?

By Treven Pyles

Posted on January 20th, 2022

While sunscreen is a crucial personal care product, as it shields our skin against damaging ultraviolet radiation, it is very important to be aware of the harmful ingredients that might lurk in it. In addition to benzene, which was found in 78 different sunscreen products by Valisure, there are many other chemicals we should avoid.

In the spring of last year, the independent pharmacy Valisure made public the results of a study on popular brands of sunscreen. Shockingly, the researchers found benzene, a known human carcinogen, to contaminate a whopping 78 products, most of which are still on the market. The sunscreen of some companies had only traces or small concentrations of benzene, but the products of Johnson & Johnson were found to contain a level of benzene 12 times above the safe limit. However, because so many ingredients are part of the manufacturing process of sunscreen, consumers should pay close attention to the label of the products they intend to purchase, as some could be very dangerous for their health.

The ingredients you should avoid when shopping for sunscreen

Alarmingly, over the last two decades, the rate of skin cancer in the U.S. has increased by 77%. This is because most people are careless or uninformed when it comes to the health of their skin and how to protect it against the harmful ultraviolet radiation of the sun. What is perhaps the most frustrating and disheartening concerning skin cancer is that, in most cases, it is preventable, as wearing sunscreen daily shields your skin against dangerous radiation. Undoubtedly, more awareness has to be raised about the importance of applying sunscreen regularly.

While many people never wear sunscreen, there remains a significant portion that does. Nevertheless, in the light of the recent news regarding the presence of benzene in multiple sunscreen products, these people might now be at a loss about which one to choose. Obviously, we strongly advise you to stay away from the products that were found to contain this chemical, but also to pay attention to the other potentially harmful ingredients, which include the following:

  • Avobenzone: It is a commonly used organic filter that offers protection from UVA rays and is often used in addition to organic active ingredients in products providing broad-spectrum protection. Since avobenzone is not stable, it must be combined with other ingredients that will stabilize it to prevent it from breaking down. If this happens, the results can be quite dangerous, as breakdown products of avobenzone might cause allergic reactions. Furthermore, avobenzone can disrupt the endocrine system and block the effects of testosterone.
  • Homosalate: This is another organic UV filter widely used in sunscreen. The Food and Drug Administration has insufficient data to evaluate whether it is safe and effective to use in these products. Unsettlingly, homosalate was revealed to penetrate the skin, disrupt hormones, and generate toxic breakdown byproducts over time. The European Commission discovered that homosalate was not safe to use at concentrations above 10% and recommended a maximum concentration of 1.4% because of concerns for endocrine disruption. The Food and Drug Administration allows U.S. sunscreen companies to use it in concentrations up to 15%.
  • Octinoxate: As another organic UV filter, octinoxate is quickly absorbed into the skin and continues to be absorbed after the product has been applied. It was found in the blood of Americans in concentrations 16 times over the safe limit. The chemical might affect thyroid hormone production, including androgen and progesterone signaling. Octinoxate can also cause allergic reactions following exposure to ultraviolet light. Lastly, several countries have banned the sale of sunscreen containing octinoxate because the ingredient might be harmful to aquatic life.
  • Oxybenzone: As perhaps the most worrisome sunscreen active ingredient, oxybenzone is readily absorbed through the skin, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found it in the body of nearly every American, with higher concentrations in people who apply sunscreen on a daily basis. It causes allergic skin reactions, disrupts endocrine function, and might harm children. Finally, regular exposure to oxybenzone has also been associated with Hirschsprung's disease, lower testosterone levels, respiratory tract irritation, higher cancer risk, skin irritation, organ toxicity, and severe eye irritation.
  • Octocrylene: Octocrylene rapidly absorbs through the skin at levels approximately 14 times the Food and Drug Administration cutoff for systemic exposure. It is associated with high rates of skin allergies and has been correlated with aquatic toxicity, potentially damaging coral health. To make matters worse, octocrylene is often contaminated with the carcinogen benzophenone. The European Commission concluded that even though there was evidence of the chemical's endocrine-disrupting potential, using it in concentrations of up to 10% was considered safe.
  • Octisalate: As another organic UV filter, octisalate readily absorbs through the skin at levels 10 times over 0.5 nanograms per milliliter, which is the cutoff of the Food and Drug Administration for systemic exposure. This is the maximum concentration present in the blood before there are potential safety concerns. There is evidence that the chemical can cause allergic contact dermatitis. Octisalate might have endocrine effects, weakly binding to the estrogen receptor.

Finally, if you are looking for a safe and non-toxic sunscreen alternative, we recommend mineral sunscreen as opposed to chemical sunscreen, which has been proven to be healthier both for you and for the coral reefs and which can provide the same level of protection against ultraviolet radiation. Two of the most effective ingredients in mineral sunscreen are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Medical specialists - dermatologists, to be more specific - strongly advocate for regular sunscreen use, informing consumers that these two substances are the safest and most effective active ingredients in sunscreen.

File your benzene sunscreen claim with the assistance of our experienced attorneys

Since 1990, we have dedicated our efforts to help victims of toxic exposure, and our law firm currently takes on cases of benzene sunscreen. Therefore, if you have been using one or multiple adulterated products and developed acute myeloid leukemia, we advise you to contact our legal team immediately, as you are eligible for compensation. To begin the legal process, you will just have to call us, explain your situation, and send us your medical records.

After a careful analysis, our skilled lawyers will determine whether you qualify for filing a benzene sunscreen claim. If you do, they will promptly begin working on it to prepare it for submission. While we are taking care of the difficult work for you, you can carry on as usual, as your involvement will only be necessary during the preliminary steps of the legal process. In the end, you will get the largest sum of money you are entitled to from the liable companies.