Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Ask Lydia: Is Sunblock Safe?

Hi Lydia, Thanks for all your recent posts on skin cancer and also your info about chemicals in cosmetics. I'm very concerned about what potential toxins I am putting on my skin. I am also worried about getting too much sun. Are sunblocks safe to use? Do they contain bad ingredients I should worry about? Thanks for your help. ~Charlotte

Hi Charlotte,

Thanks for your email. This is a great question. One on hand you don't want to expose your skin to the sun. And then on the other hand you don't want to rub nasty chemicals all over your body. What's a girl to do?

Since I am not an expert, I suggest you check out this article about sunblocks from the Cosmetic Safety Database, an extremely useful service from the Environmental Working Group (this site rates your beauty products--something that is both terrifying yet fascinating. I've mentioned this site before on this post).

To sum up what they say, they find that the US does not regulate claims made by companies about the amount of protection consumers are getting as well as other countries do. They also suggest that the majority of consumers are not applying enough product to get adequate coverage.

But don't panic.

This site recommends just under 150 SPF products that provide the proper level of protection. Please take a moment and read this will really inform you so you can get sun protection and ease your mind when it comes to the amount of chemicals you're exposed to. Also, click here for a pdf file listing the Environmental Working Group's top sunscreens.

Again, Charlotte, thanks for your question. If anyone else has a question they want me to explore, feel free to email me at

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