Why Go Chemical Free?

Let us break it down for you: We’re pro-sunscreen all the way. And chemical sunscreen ingredients often with names ending in –salate or –benzone can give a better look and feel to skin-care products than physical sunscreens since they tend to sink into skin readily and dry clear. But there’s some evidence that they might disrupt hormones. Studies on the subject (which have mainly involved rats, not humans) have been somewhat inconclusive. Oxybenzone probably the most notorious UV filter, was approved by the FDA way back in 1978. Also referred to as BP3, it’s a member of the phenol family that has become so omnipresent, it’s been estimated that traces can be found in the urine of 96 percent of the U.S. population. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s a toxic substance.

In a 2004 study researchers found that on the first day after applying a sunscreen with oxybenzone, both young men and postmenopausal women experienced a drop of testosterone levels. But after four days of application, that change was no longer present. The scientists concluded that the fluctuations were not tied to the chemical. The current consensus on oxybenzone is that the hormone fluctuations are not clinically significant. But physical sunscreens can be helpful for anyone with sensitive skin, since they’re less likely to exacerbate irritation and redness. That said, if you do prefer the idea of chemical-free sunscreens, there’s one ingredient to look for: Zinc Oxide a physical blocker, is the only ingredient you need for excellent broad-spectrum protection,” says David Hershthal, a professor of dermatology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.