June is finally here and with it comes outdoor activities and the inevitability of sun exposure. We all want to protect ourselves from the sun and its harmful UV rays and the best way to do that is with sunscreen. However, not all sunscreens were created equally.
There are two main types of sunscreen that work in totally different ways to protect you from the sun. First, physical sunscreen works as a shield, sitting on the surface of your skin and reflecting the sun’s rays. Physical sunscreen contains two active ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide which are both “generally recognized as safe and effective” by the FDA. The second major type, known as chemical sunscreen works to protect you in a different way. Chemical Sunscreen contains oxybenzone, avobenzone, and octisalate which are chemicals that work like a sponge would, absorbing the sun’s rays so your skin doesn’t take the full brunt of the UV. You can tell the two types apart by remembering that chemical sunscreen tends to be easier to rub in and won’t leave that annoying white residue on your skin.
While the main purpose of both types of sunscreens is to protect you, it has been found that some sunscreens contain a potentially dangerous chemical known as benzene. Benzene is a colorless or light yellow liquid that you can be exposed to through gasoline fumes or automobile exhaust that may be linked to certain types of cancer. Valisure LLC, an online pharmacy company that also conducts independent testing of consumer products has recently done a study on what brands are free of these potentially harmful chemicals.
When protecting yourself from the sun this summer, make sure you are aware of the risks you may be exposed to while using certain products. Though more research needs to be done, you can check out the full list of sunscreens that have been lab-tested and confirmed to not contain benzene below.
By Trevor Dominy