Is your sunscreen doing you more harm than good?

sun screen dangers

Sun Protection

Tips For Travellers No 2 – Protection from Sun Exposure

We are led to believe that applying sunscreen is essential to avoid damaging skin which in turn may lead to more serious problems such as skin cancer. However what is often not appreciated is the fact that many of the sunscreen products that are widely available are probably more dangerous than the sun’s rays due to the chemicals they contain.

Sunscreens usually work by using either a physical sun filter, such as talc, titanium oxide or zinc oxide, or chemicals containing active ingredients such as methoxycinnamate, p-aminobenzoic acid and benzophenone that absorb certain UV frequencies while allowing others to pass. Sunscreens normally indicate whether they protect against UVA, UVB or both. There is also a growing concern that some of the chemicals used in these preparations may be harmful and may, in fact, increase a user’s risk of developing malignant melanoma (BMJ, 1996; 312: 1612-3).

Quick tips for a good sunscreen.

Ingredients Oxybenzone
Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate)
Added insect repellent
Titanium dioxide
Avobenzone or Mexoryl SX
Products Sprays
SPF above 50+
Broad-spectrum protection
Water-resistant for beach, pool & exercise
SPF 30+ for beach & pool

If you want to check your favourite product or just find out more go to . The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an American organisation which publishes loads of research into the chemical components of everyday products. I have found the sun protection products by Green People and Liz Earle, which are made from natural and organic ingredients, are very effective and nice to use.

Other measures to use

The best protection against the Sun’s harmful rays are protective clothes, shade and timing. Try and limit your sun exposure to early morning or late afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky. UV radiation peaks at midday, when the sun is directly overhead. In very strong sun,  sunglasses are essential. They protect your eyes from UV radiation.

If you know that you are going to expose your skin to the sun for unusually long periods, such as when you go on holiday, it is worth taking a strong anti-oxidant supplement which will protect your skin against free radical damage. I usually use Higher Nature’s Super Anti-oxidant Protection, or Oxycell by Nutrigold.

Repairing Damage

Should you have the misfortune to get burnt, then Aloe Vera gel is a great skin healer. Essential oils of Lavender, German chamomile and Roman Chamomile will all sooth skin, reduce inflammation and help repair the damage. Lavender can be applied neat but the Chamomiles should be diluted in gel, base oil such as jojoba or calendula or a cool bath.


  1. During my Pharmacist Technician training many many years ago, the teacher told us of the dangers of the chemicals of sunscreen. It had not be proven yet so it was not part of the curriculum, however it was important enough to discuss! I think this is an important subject so thank you for raising it. PS. I only lasted in my job at the Pharmacy for a few months as it felt wrong selling these products to people.

  2. Its quite scarey to think that Government bodies and Pharmaceutical companies strongly encourage people to use this stuff and in doing so believing that they are protecting themselves, when all the time it might be doing the opposite.

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