November 01, 2021

Key Points 

  • A recent Oregon State University study found that mixtures of chemical UV filters and zinc oxide can lose efficacy within 2 hours of exposure to sunlight and exhibit toxicity to Zebrafish. 
  • These findings do not pertain to pure mineral sunscreens. Mineral active ingredients, Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide, are safe and effective in isolation and in combination with each other. 
  • This study adds to a body of evidence indicating that use of any sunscreen containing chemical UV filters poses human and environmental health risks.
  • Media headlines and marketing claims within the sunscreen industry can be misleading. Here's what you need to know:

  

Study Overview

An Oregon State University study published in the Photochemical and Photobiological Sciences journal looks into the safety and efficacy of various sunscreen mixtures by comparing photostability and toxicity of chemical sunscreens with that of sunscreens containing a mixture of chemical UV filters and zinc oxide. A few pieces of background info:

  • Photostability, in this context, refers to a sunscreen’s resistance to change when exposed to sunlight. Toxicity was measured by a sunscreen’s effects on zebrafish. 
  • A Chemical UV filter is a chemical active ingredient in sunscreen, including but not limited to avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, octinoxate, octisalate, and homosalate. These chemicals are approved for use in sunscreen but they are not recognized as safe and effective by the FDA.

The results of this study indicate that chemical UV filters degrade in the presence of zinc oxide.The zinc oxide itself, however, was not found to degrade.The efficacy of these mixtures declined within 2 hours and they exhibited toxicity in zebrafish. Importantly, the findings do not pertain to pure mineral sunscreens.

 

 

The Danger of Chemical Ingredients in Sunscreen

While this study found that mixtures chemical UV filters did not degrade within 2 hours on their own, a larger body of evidence links chemical UV filters to human and environmental toxicity. Here are a few important findings and stories:

  • According to a study by Haereticus Environmental Labs, an oxybenzone  concentration of “62 parts-per-trillion - equivalent to a drop of water in six and a half olympic sized swimming pools” is toxic to juvenile coral.
  • Hawaii recently banned the sale, offer of sale, and distribution of any sunscreen containing oxybenzone or octinoxate due to their effects on marine environments.
  • In 2020, the Virgin Island banned several chemical UV filters including octocrylene for similar reasons.
  • In addition to environmental dangers, a study this summer showed that octocrylene degrades into benzophenone, a mutagen, carcinogen, and endocrine distuptor.
  • Avobenzone is also known to break down into toxic compounds when exposed of sun and chlorine. Chemical sunscreens use other dangerous chemicals, such as octocrylene to stabilize avobenzone.
  • These are only a few brief examples... Check our our blogs page to dive deeper into these issues.

Takeaways

Non-Nano Zinc Oxide is safe and effective in isolation and in combination with Titanium Dioxide. These two ingredients are the only two sunscreen active ingredients recognized as safe and effective by the FDA.

As opposed to the term “Mineral Sunscreen”, “Mineral Based Sunscreen” generally refers to dangerous mixtures of zinc oxide and chemical active ingredients. These sunscreens are marketed as safer than chemical sunscreens but there is no safe use of UV chemical filters.

Media headlines surrounding this study are designed to to catch your attention and are often misleading regarding human and environmental safety. The only way to see through misleading marketing claims and media headlines is to check and research the ingredients on your sunscreen.

Stay away from any sunscreens that include chemical active ingredients including but not limited to avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, octinoxate, octisalate, and homosalate.

What about TropicSport?

We make pure mineral sunscreen with no chemical UV filters. We only use two active ingredients, minerals Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. Therefore you can still trust that TropicSport is safe, effective, and environmentally friendly. 

 

 

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Willy Bemiss
Willy Bemiss


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