Pure & Natural Handcrafted Naturopathic Skin Care

Sun Screens

What is the Purpose of Sunscreen?

For a simple answer to this question, forget the rhetoric that sunscreens protect against cancer; go to tabs: Truth about the Sun & Skin Cancer: the holistic Perspective for the truth about this topic.

Sunscreens vary in their ability to block UVA & UVB radiation.  All sunscreens target the blocking of UVB.

UVB exposure causes our skin to turn red & with over exposure burn.  Sunscreens inhibit an enzyme produced by the skin, called nitric acid which causes the skin to turn red.  Broad spectrum sunscreens claim to block both UVA & UVB.  The SPF numbers below show the degree of UVB blocking mechanism, but I was unable to find with extensive searching, percentages of inhibition of UVA radiation in broad spectrum sunscreens.

Inorganic sunscreens (titanium dioxide & zinc oxide) reflect & scatter UVB, UVA & visible radiation by forming an opaque barrier of inert metal particles. Also, inorganic sunscreens may absorb ultraviolet radiation depending on the particle size.

  • SPF 15 filters out approximately 93 percent of all incoming UVB rays
  • SPF 30 keeps out 97 percent (96.7%)
  • SPF 50 keeps out 98 percent
  • In November 2012, the Therapeutic Goods Administration announced a new standard for sunscreens sold in Australia, increasing the maximum sun protection factor from SPF30+ to SPF50+.

UVA activates melanin pigment already present in the upper skin cells. It creates a tan that appears quickly but is also lost quickly.

UVB stimulates the production of new melanin, which leads to a heavy increase in the dark-coloured pigment within a few days. This tan may last a relatively long time. UVB also stimulates the cells to produce a thicker epidermis. Therefore, UVB is responsible both for the darkening and thickening of the outer cell layers.

The Obvious & Immediate Disparity of Sunscreen Use

UVB filters in sunscreens block the natural mechanism of our skin to turn red, therefore over exposure to the sun is a common fact when wearing sunscreens.  Users are given a false sense of security & meanwhile the UVA radiation penetrate deeper layers causing more damage.

And needless to say UVB radiation is vital for human health as this converts 7-dehydrocholesterol found under skin in to the hormone known as vitamin D, which goes on to communicate with DNA in every cell in the body.  It is estimated to control at least 1,000 different genes, switching their function on & off via VDR (vitamin D receptor); making UVB one of the most important elements to human life.

Blocking UVA & UVB radiation which are two natural & synergistic elements that have been working together in nature for as long as the sun & earth have existed, creates artificial problems which are compounding & naïve to say the least.  The more you wear sunscreen, the more photosensitive the skin becomes, causing need for more coverage.  The skin is exposed to chemicals instead of life giving radiation & the accumulative effects are being seen all over the world with rising cancer rates.

Important Points to Consider

  1. Questions to ask about sunscreens
  2. Read the list of ingredients
  3. Omitted/hidden ingredients (present in the product, but not listed)
  4. Understanding the ingredients & effect
  5. Absorption Rate & Nano particles
  6. Accumulative effect
  7. Alternatives & safe options

1. Questions to ask about Sunscreens

The Skin KISS principle of keeping it simply sublime; is important when making decisions on such a contentious topic with so much conflicting information surrounding sunscreen efficacy & safety.  Everyone has to make up their own mind on what is important, but we recommend the need for transparency of listing all ingredients; as the bottom line to maintaining company integrity.

2. Read the List of Ingredients

Before you wear, eat or consume anything, it is smart to look at the ingredients.  Chemicals taken in by the mouth are absorbed by the intestines & pass into venous blood, which is taken to the liver.  However, chemicals applied to the skin are absorbed & bypass the liver entering blood circulation without this protection.  If you don’t understand what it is you are reading because of a long chemical name or a number, this might be a good time to think about whether or not you want this in or anywhere near your body. Do you really want to be putting such a cocktail of chemicals on to your skin-the largest organ of the body, & that of your children?

Common list of Sunscreen Ingredients

Active ingredients

  • Zinc Oxide (broad spectrum filter), 4-Methylbenzylidene  Camphor (prime UVB filter), Octyl Methoxycinnamate (OMC) (a prime UVA filter),   Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl, Hexyl Benzoate, Methylene bis-benzotriazolyl, tetramethylbutylphenol, Bemotrizinol, , Octyl Triazone, Octocrylene, Bemotrizinol

Inactive Ingredients in FDA /TGA Approved Sunscreens

  • Aloe extract, barium sulfate, benzyl alcohol, carbomer, dimethicone,disodium EDTA, jojoba oil, methylparaben, octadecene/MA, copolymer, polyglyceryl-3 distearate, phenethyl alcohol, propylparaben, sorbitan isostearate, sorbitol, stearic acid, tocopherol (vitamin E), triethanolamine


  • Benzyl Alcohol,  Phenoxyethanol, Hydroxybenzoates, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol

Banned Ingredients

  • Sunscreens manufactured in Australia do not contain para amino benzoic acid (PABA)
  • Cancer Council sunscreens does not contain peanut or any tree nut oil.

List of Unsafe, Toxic Chemicals in Sunscreen

  • Octyl Methoxycinnamate (OMC)
  • Para amino benzoic acid
  • Octyl salicyclate
  • Oxybenzone
  • Cinoxate
  • Dioxybenzone
  • Phenylbenzimidazole
  • Homosalate
  • Menthyl anthranilate
  • Octocrylene
  • Parabens

Kunisue T, Chen Z, Buck Louis GM, Sundaram R, Hediger ML, Sun L, Kannan K. Urinary Concentrations of Benzophenone-type UV Filters in U.S. Women and Their Association with Endometriosis.  Environ Sci Tech 2012 Apr 17;46(8):4624-32. Epub 2012 Mar 29

 3.  Omitted/Hidden Ingredients (present in the product, but not listed)

The TGA has classed sunscreens as listed medicines & only active & preservatives need to be listed; whilst the inactive (excipient) ingredients may remain as proprietary listed secrets.  Excipients are the other ingredients that make up the final product; such as fragrances, fillers, mineral oils, or other oils, parabens, dispersants such as polyhydroxystearic acid, film formers, such as PVP eicosine copolymer, solvents such as C 12-15 alkyl benzoate & neopentyl glycol diheptanoate & propolene glycol dibenzoate, feel modifiers like silicon & silica.  (Wright MW et al. JAAD 2001;44:781-4.  Diffey BL. Photochem Photobiol 2001;74(1)::61-63)

When purchasing Cancer Council trade mark sunscreen for example, the truth of the matter is that only the TGA & the Cancer Council for whom the sunscreen is produced, knows the full list of ingredients. Obviously, we do not endorse the use of such chemical based sunscreens, which have ingredients omitted from public knowledge.  The fact that these heavily chemical based products are marketed for safe daily use is questionable, but even more so is the daily recommendation use for children, whose skin & immune systems are more delicate than adults; is extremely disturbing.

4.  Understanding the Ingredients & Effect

SUMMARY: Studies indicate that the common chemicals acting as UV filters, used in sunscreens, break down when exposed to sunlight, mimicking oestrogen & disrupting the body’s hormone (endocrine) system. Research suggests that oxybenzone, 4-MBC and octinoxate are also toxic to human reproductive systems & interfere with normal development. These chemicals are absorbed into the body & are being found in breast milk & waste waters via excretion out of the body & into toilet.  The full accumulative effect on human health & the environment is yet to be assessed, as the problem is far reaching & devastating; where do we begin?  We, have to begin with ourselves; clean up our own backyard so to speak.  Make informed choices & take responsibility for your own health & that of the planet.  Be the change you want to see in the world (Mahatma Gandhi).

Meanwhile, skin cancers & cancer across the spectrum are increasing; below is a breakdown of only a few chemicals found in sunscreens.

  • 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor (4-MBC)

Wikipedia states: Studies have raised the issue that 4-MBC acts an endocrine disruptor. One study in Switzerland showed significant uterine growth in immature rodents.   4-MBC competes with estradiol for oestrogen binding sites in the uterus.

These compounds may pose an even higher danger to prepubescent children; which may be a factor of the increase in precocious puberty in countries with high sunscreen use.  Precocious puberty is the early onset sexual development in children.  Children are likely to be exposed to greater concentrations of these compounds as a result of their larger surface area to volume ratio, undeveloped toxin elimination systems, greater application rates and the fact that they are likely to swallow small amounts when the sunscreen is being applied to their face & lips.

In addition, there is some evidence that 4-MBC may suppress the pituitary-thyroid axis leading to hypothyroidism.  (Mueller SO, Kling M, Arifin Firzani P et al. (April 2003). “Activation of estrogen receptor alpha and ERbeta by 4-methylbenzylidene-camphor in human and rat cells: comparison with phyto- and xenoestrogens”. Toxicol. Lett. 142 (1-2): 89–101. doi:10.1016/S0378-4274(03)00016-X. PMID 12765243.  CS1 maint: Explicit use of et al. (link)Sun Block has Endocrine Disruptor Chemicals, New Scientist, April 18, 2001.  IH Hamann, C Schmutzler, P Kirschmeyer, H Jarry & J Köhrle (2006). “4-Methylbenzylidene-camphor (4MBC) causes pituitary effects comparable to hypothyroidism”. Endocrine Abstracts 11: OC60.)

  • Octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC)

OMC is one of the most frequently used chemical UV filters worldwide & has been reported to cause photosensitisation & photo-allergic effects. OMC easily penetrates the upper layer of the skin & when exposed to UV radiation, generates free radicals in skin cells. Recent studies indicate that OMC may also have significant undesirable effects as a xenoestrogen *

The Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority tested mouse skin & found that half the cells died after contact with a weak dose of OMC, while shining a lamp on the impregnated cells, to simulate sunshine, made the chemical twice as toxic.  No tests have been undertaken on human skin, but these results imply OMC is toxic, especially if left on the skin for long periods of time.

* Endocrine disruptors/xenoestrogens are chemicals that interfere with endogenous hormone action and/or production. These have been implicated in the development of a number of diseases in both males & females, including cancer of the mammary glands & reproductive organs, as well as the abnormal development of the male reproductive system. In one study, the application of three active ingredients commonly found in sunscreens (oxybenzone, 4-MBC & octinoxate) for one week led to a drop in testosterone & estradiol levels in men. More worrying is that these chemicals have been found in breast milk at concentrations known to have oestrogenic effects. (S.T. Butt., T. Christensen. Toxicity and Phototoxicity of Chemical Sun Filters. Oxford JournalsScience & Mathematics, Radiation Protection Dosimetry, Volume 91, Issue 1-3,Pp. 283-286).

A 2001 study that tested common sunscreen chemicals on breast cancer cells (in vitro) found the following chemicals increased cancer cell proliferation (growth).  (Note the highlighted chemicals are in Sun Smart endorsed sunscreens).  Benzophenone-3, Homosalate, Octyl Methoxycinnamate, 4 Methyl-benzylidene camphor (4-MBC), Ocryl-dimethyl-PABA (Margaret Schlumpf, Beata Cotton, Marianne Conscience, Vreni Haller, Beate Steinmann, and Walter Lichtensteiger Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol 109, Number 3, March 2001, In Vitro and in Vivo Estrogenicity of UV Screens).

5.  Absorption Rate & Nano Particles

Topical absorption

Studies show that the skin absorbs an average of 64% of total contaminant dosage, with the face to be several times more permeable than broad body surfaces & an absorption rate of 100% for underarms and genitalia.  And another peer-reviewed study showed 100% absorption for fragrance ingredients. (Brown et al. The role of skin absorption as a route of exposure for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in drinking water. Am J Public Health. 1984 May; 74(5): 479–484. Kasting and Kretsos. Skin Pharmacol Physiol 2005;18:55-74  Robinson et al. The Importance of Exposure Estimation in the Assessment of Skin Sensitization risk. Contact Dermatitis 2000; 42:251-259).

Human trials found that both OMC & 4-MBC were readily absorbed through the skin and were detectable in urine, proving the chemicals are absorbed by the skin in to the body. In April 2004 Journal of Chromatography found that there was significant penetration into the skin of all sunscreen agents they studied. And slathering a carcinogenic agent onto your skin may in fact be worse for your health than ingesting it, as it goes straight into your blood stream.


Nano-particulates of zinc oxide & titanium dioxide have been used in Australian sunscreens for over 20 yearsWhat is the current Australian Cancer Council stance on Nano particle in Australian sunscreens: (based on TGA’s advice, as well as their own evidence-based reviews), there is no credible evidence that sunscreens containing nanoparticles pose a health risk. Sunscreen has been scientifically proven to reduce the risk of melanoma and other skin cancers.

The worldwide consensus is not so sure with Europe acting to protect citizens from potential harm from nano particulates & have introduced laws that will soon make companies conduct risk assessment of nano-ingredients before they can be used in sunscreens and cosmetics. Further, European companies will have to list nano-ingredients on product labels.

Unfortunately, here in the country with the highest global incidence of skin cancer, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has refused to act.  http://www.abc.net.au/environment/articles/2012/07/25/3552609.htm Dr Gregory Crocetti is nanotechnology campaigner for Friends of the Earth.

6.  Accumulative Effect

Each & every second 310 kilograms of toxic chemicals are released in to our air, land, & water by industrial facilities around the world.  www.worldometers.info/view/toxchem/

The accumulative effect of chemicals & the impact on the health of every single human being & the earth, is perhaps the most dire health crisis of our times.  The truth of the matter is that no one really knows the degree of exposures we all face & very little is done to measure the accumulative effects & interactions with multiple chemicals entering our bodies.

The extent of harm is determined by the person’s own immune system, liver, kidney & gut health & chemical exposure levels.  Babies, children & the elderly or immune compromised are more at risk of accumulative toxic overloads.  Due to the aggressive campaigning of Slip Slop Slap, children & even babies are being lathered with toxic sunscreens on a regular basis.  These chemicals are being absorbed & add to the other chemicals building up in the body.  Poor diet & lifestyle choices impede the body’s ability to optimally eliminate toxic load & year after year the state of health is compromised.

Eg: Oxybenzone – is one of the most common sunscreen ingredients. This chemical is a penetration enhancer, which means it helps other sunscreen ingredients penetrate the skin.

Scientists suspect that this chemical disrupts the hormones by acting like oestrogen & altering the production of sperm. Oxybenzone can be absorbed more quickly than our bodies can eliminate it. This chemical is identified in breast milk & sunscreen chemicals, in general, have been measured in the breast milk of over 75% of American women, according to statistics.

Octocrylene – when exposed to UV light, octocrylene absorbs the UV rays, but breaks down to produce radicals that can cause skin damage. It easily penetrates the skin & accumulates within your body.  This is found in Peppa Pig kids & the Sensitive brand listed above.Review [Cosmetics as source of xenoestrogens exposure].

Parabens –Listed in inactive ingredients are common in many cosmetic products, including sunscreens. Their xenoestrogen effect & easy absorption rate are a cause for concern regarding breast cancer. (Crinnion WJ., Toxic effects of the easily avoidable phthalates and parabens. Alternative Medical Review. 2010 Sep; 15(3):190-6). PMID: 21155623

Fragrances – are artificial chemically created scents that are toxic & are known carcinogens to animals & humans; that are often overlooked as not being harmful but are in fact, accumulating in multiple personal care products, including sunscreen

7.  Alternatives & Safe Options

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), an independent research group, just published their 2014 guide to safe sunscreens. They reviewed over 2000 sunscreens and over 257 brands. They found more than 75% of the sunscreens contained toxic chemicals that can increase your risk of cancer & other health issues.

Points to Remember

  • It is important to do your own research & be comfortable in your own skin.
  • Look to alternative, chemical free sun protection for those times of peak exposure or need.
  • Be sure to read labels carefully & be mindful of hidden ingredients such as fragrances & synthetic versions of real ingredients.
  • If only active ingredients are listed, all other ingredients are hidden.  This should be a red light for consumer choice.
  • The SkinKiss Sun Care Products comprise of safe & healing products that act as multi purpose skin care designed for use whilst enjoying the benefits of the sun.
  • For optimal care, we also recommend following the Skin Kiss Sun Care Tips to maximise the benefits of the sun, whilst respecting its power.

Nature knows Best

Humans & the Natural World share a divine contract written in Universal Law

which NO Pharmaceutical scientist can replicate & no dollar bill can change