Is your sunscreen toxic? Protect your skin AND the rest of your body this summer!


Those warm summer rays are beginning to shine down on us, and boy do they feel good!! Until your skin starts to burn and you begin to look like a serpent shedding its skin. Sunscreen is an essential component of any summer season and can prevent burns, cancers, and other harmful effects from those pesky UV rays. You may think that any sunscreen you can get your hands on will suffice, but not all sunscreens are created equal.

Should I Use Sunscreen with a Mineral or Chemical Filter?

These are the active ingredients in sunscreen, and the most common is the chemical filter. These include oxybenzone, octinoxate, avobenzone, homosalate, octocrylene, and octisalate, which are actually toxic components that can lead to issues such as infertility, endometriosis, and thyroid disorders. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) found oxybenzone in 70% of non mineral sunscreens, and 96% of people who regularly used sunscreen tested positive for this compound.

Mineral filters, on the other hand, physically block rays rather than chemically blocking them. They usually contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which are non toxic and hypoallergenic. Zinc oxide is usually the top choice which blocks UVB and UVA rays. Most sunscreens only block UVB rays.

What’s the Difference Between UVA and UVB Rays?

UVA rays are considered the “aging” rays, which can penetrate window glass and are present throughout the day. UVA rays have a longer wavelength and can penetrate deeper into the skin. UVB rays are called the “burn” rays. They do not penetrate window glass, and these rays are typically what we think of when applying sunscreen.

Look for “broad spectrum” sunscreens which block both UVA and UVB rays.

Can I Use Spray Sunscreen?

Sunscreen contains nanoparticles, which should not be inhaled. By using lotions instead of sprays, you decrease the risk of inhaling nanoparticles from your sunscreen.

Is Higher SPF Really Better?

The FDA has not found any increased benefits of sunscreens over 50 SPF. It is recommended to use an SPF of at least 30, and this recommendation is about to increase to 50.

What about my vitamin D levels?

While it is true that sun exposure provides you with some of that much needed Vitamin D, short and limited exposure is insufficient to maintain adequate vitamin levels. See your Philadelphia Integrative Medicine provider to get your levels tested and your supplement regimen personalized!

PIM wants to hear from you! Do you have an experience with sunscreens? Do you find this article helpful? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Written by Dani Mortimer, Clinic Manager


Ney, Maggie. “Sunscreen 101.” The Akasha Center for Integrative Medicine, 31 May 2016,

Pinchot. “Sunscreen: A Naturopath's Guide to Sun Protection.” Active Integrative Medicine, Active Integrative Medicine, 27 Apr. 2017,

Dale Wilson, Brummitte, et al. “Comprehensive Review of Ultraviolet Radiation and the Current Status on Sunscreens.” The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, Matrix Medical Communications, Sept. 2012,

Fitzpatrick, Kylie. “How Much SPF Do You Need In Your Sunscreen?” UT News, University of Texas at Austin, 2 Aug. 2018,