Is sunscreen safe?

When I was a teenager, I was all about that deep dark tan. Baby oil was my go-to and maybe a little Banana Boat because it smelled like paradise. I would pay the price later, but as a teenager I was not concerned with side effects. I had other things on my mind and looking tan in my bikini was top priority. I now deal with several types of skin cancer and lots of sun damage.

But sunscreen doesn't go without it's own set of drawbacks. Many sunscreens contain ingredients that are actually harmful and can cause cancer (especially when exposed to heat... seriously?)! I'd like to save myself and my kids from regular "zap" sessions at the dermatologist, but traditional sunscreen doesn't sound all that promising.

I've mentioned before Im a researcher. Just because I'm told something is safe to use, doesn't mean I take it for face-value. I do a little investigating for myself. I recommend you do the same and read up on sunscreen safety for you and your family here. The EWG has a great sunscreen guide that can help inform you on the options you have to protect you and the ones you love.

Here's a quick list of ingredients to avoid when reading your sunscreen labels:


  • retinal palmitate= This ingredient (a form of vitamin A), when exposed to sunlight, may speed the development of cancerous tumors and lesions.
  • spray sunscreen= Aersol sprays penetrate the lungs and enter the blood stream.
  • oxbenzone= This chemical is used as a UV filter in sunscreen. It absorbs through the skin in significant amounts which is concerning due to its ability to cause organ and reproductive toxicity.

Take heart! There are alternatives. An appropriate hat and shade covering are always a good idea. You can also find good sunscreens without toxic ingredients that cause unwanted side affects. Find one here and remember a healthy dose of vitamin D everyday is a good thing!

Richelle Paris
Richelle Paris


Richelle is the operations manager at Bambu Earth. She also coordinates our spa parties. She lives in Mission Viejo, CA with her husband and five daughters. She enjoys people, coffee, cooking, thrifting and spending time with her family.

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