The Inside Scoop on Sunscreen

The Inside Scoop on Sunscreen


Who knew protecting ourselves from the sun could actually be toxic? Growing up, the importance of putting on sunscreen before leaving the house was always emphasized. Although it is true that we should protect our skin from UV radiation, we have to make sure that the sunscreens we use are not toxic themselves!

Generally speaking there are two types of sunscreens: chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreens work by changing UV rays into heat and then releasing that heat from the skin. Basically this means we are absorbing the UV rays. These sunscreens typically contain the ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. A study conducted in 2008 by the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control) reveal that the ingredients found in chemical sunscreens cause allergies,  hormone disruption, and cell damage that may  ultimately increase the risk of skin cancer.


Physical sunscreens (also known as mineral sunscreens) contain the ingredients, Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide. These ingredients reflect the UV rays from the skin, so they physically block the UV light from being absorbed. There has been some controversy over the safety of Titanium Dioxide when used in high concentrations or when inhaled, such as when using sprayable sunscreens. Breathing in nanoparticles can lead to lung toxicity and inflammation. Nonetheless, Titanium Dioxide is said to be much safer when than any of the chemical sunscreen ingredients mentioned above. Zinc Oxide is the safer of the two physical sunscreen ingredients and  has not shown to have any negative side effects. In fact, is the only ingredient approved by the FDA for use as sunscreen for infants under the age of 6 months.

The sunscreen I use is by COOLA and is pictured above. I like that it is a mineral sunscreen, it is matte, and does not leave a white cast on my face. It is SPF 30, and contains all natural ingredients, hence it is non-toxic.

Here are the ingredients listed on the website:

Active: Titanium Dioxide 3.2%, Zinc Oxide 1.8%. Inactive: Aluminum Hydroxide, Butyrospermum Parkii (Organic Shea Butter), Cucumis Sativus (Organic Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Glycerin (Organic), Hydrogen Dimethicone, Isopropyl Myristate, Linum Usitatissimum (Organic Linseed) Seed Oil, Oenothera Biennis (Organic Evening Primrose) Oil, Plankton Extract, Polyamide-5, Polysilicone-11, Propylene Carbonate, Rosa Canina (Organic Rose Hip) Fruit Oil, Silica Silylate, Stearalkonium Hectorite.

The only ingredient that might be a concern to some is Isopropyl Myristate which is usually added to ingredients to reduce their oiliness. I am assuming this ingredient is what keeps the product “matte.” It is said that this ingredient could potentially cause skin irritation, or trigger acne inflammation. I have combo/oily, acne prone skin, and it has not yet triggered more or less acne than what I am particularly used to before using this product. Nonetheless, there are other COOLA products that do not use this ingredient and are therefore not labeled as “matte.” Overall, I think this brand is great and safe (or until new research comes out in the future that says otherwise). All we can do is try our best at maintaining a non-toxic lifestyle, and try to be well-informed about the ingredients in the products we put on our skin.<3

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