Mineral vs. Chemical Sunscreen: Does Your Sunscreen Cause Cancer?

Sunscreen is supposed to protect your family’s and your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays and even prevent cancer. But what if your sunscreen is actually doing the opposite? The chemicals inside of sunscreen penetrate your skin and could be doing more harm to your health, than good.

Maybe you’ve even seen labels advertising “safe sunscreen,” “natural sunscreen,” or “for kids.” These words make you feel like you are choosing the safe option for your family, but harmful ingredients are often used in mainstream brand sunscreens that you see on the shelf. We’ve done the research, so you don’t have to spend countless hours glued to your computer screen.

Here’s what you should look for in a sunscreen: 

  • A physical barrier (mineral SPF blocker) rather than a chemical one is always the safest option
  • A higher SPF does not necessarily mean better protection
  • Make sure your Zinc oxide and/or Titanium Dioxide are “non-nanoparticle”
  • All ingredients in a sunscreen matter, not just the “active” ones
  • Ignore fancy marketing meant to make you think you’re choosing the natural option


Chemical Sunscreens vs. Mineral Sunscreens

There are two types of sun protection (ingredients used in sunscreen that actually protect from the sun)  – chemical ingredients (there are 15 approved by FDA) and mineral ingredients (there are two approved by FDA).

Chemical barriers are ingredients like octinoxate, oxybenzone, octycrylate, retinyl palmitate, and homosalate (among others) – found in most of the sunscreens that you’ll buy in stores and online. They easily penetrate skin (which is why they rub in so well and so quickly), but this isn’t a good thing. Nine of the 15 FDA-approved chemical sunscreen ingredients are known “encodrine disruptors,” harmful chemicals that alter the natural function of our hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, thyroid and more. Endocrine disruptors have been shown to cause abnormal development in fetuses and growing children, early puberty and premature breast development in girls, low sperm counts in men, and infertility. As if that’s not harmful enough, some of these endocrine disruptors may generate DNA-damaging chemicals called “free radicals” in the body, and they can lead to cancer. Some studies have found that chemical sunscreen can promote indirect DNA damage, which causes the most lethal form of skin cancer: malignant melanoma.

Just two of the 17 FDA-approved ingredients for sun protection are what we call mineral ingredients, namely zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These two ingredients provide a physical barrier between your body and the sun and they offer broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection without the harmful potential disease implications that the chemical ingredients mentioned above carry. 

Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are also “reef” safe, meaning they don’t contribute to coral bleaching. According to the National Park Service of Hawaii, 14,000 tons of toxic sunscreen enter coral reefs every year. This effect contributes to stress and mortality of the coral. For this reason, Hawaii is the first state in the US to ban the sale of sunscreen containing octinoxate or oxybenzone. So, choosing a physical/mineral sunscreen helps you, but also helps the environment.


SPF Number is Not “The Holy Grail” 

You want “Broad Spectrum Coverage.” Most people have no idea about this, but the “SPF” number on a sunscreen only rates protection from UVB rays, the ones that cause sunburn – think “B” for burn.

UVA rays, those that cause long-term damage, leathering, wrinkling and aging of the skin – think “A” for aging, aren’t included in the SPF number. It’s possible to be out in the sun and not burn, yet expose yourself to long-term cellular damage and skin cancer.  

UVB-protecting sunscreen does not protect you from all the harmful effects of the sun. It’s important to protect against both UVA and UVB rays because both types cause melanoma.

Choose a “broad spectrum” sunscreen with SPF 30+. As for the number, anything above SPF 30 is really just marketing. SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays and SPF 50 blocks 98%, so the increase in protection with those higher numbers is virtually nothing.

Say NO to Nanoparticles

Did you know that all zinc oxides and titanium dioxides are not the same? In recent years, traditional sunscreen manufacturers have pulverized zinc and/or titanium into microscopic particles called “nanoparticles”.

They do this for 2 reasons: 1) it allows them to still say that they’re using “zinc” or “titanium dioxide” (which sound more “natural”), and 2) because of their microscopic size, these particles now rub in faster and leave a clear finish on the skin.

Here’s the problem though: zinc and titanium are metals, and when they’re microscopically-sized (“nanoparticles”), they now are able to pass through the layers of your skin and accumulate in the body. You don’t want these metals inside of your body! You want your zinc or titanium-based sunscreen to remain just under the surface of the skin to provide safe sun protection. Size matters!

Look for this distinction on your mineral sunscreen – and if it doesn’t specifically say “non-nanoparticle zinc or titanium”, you likely have harmful nanoparticles in the product.

ALL Ingredients Matter, not just the “Active Ingredients” 

Be sure to read the full ingredient panel of the sunscreen that you’re about to purchase, because many manufacturers like to highlight just the “active” ingredients.

It’s not enough to just have non-nanoparticle zinc and/or titanium as the active ingredients, the inactive ingredients must be clean as well. Whether they’re considered active or inactive, those ingredients are being rubbed into your skin. 

Your skin will absorb all of the ingredients even if they are considered “inactive”. In the case of spray sunscreens, the ingredients will also be inhaled into your lungs. 

A great way to determine if your sunscreen is safe for you and your family is by looking at the full ingredient list and cross-referencing it against our “List of Ingredients to Avoid”.

It’s all about the Ingredients, the Rest is just Marketing! 

Isn’t that what it always comes down to? We get it – there’s a lot of marketing out there – powerful, beautiful branding, and magical “buzzwords” proclaiming “natural”, “safe for babies”, “organic.” These are all of catch-phrases that get us to buy.

But, it always comes down to the ingredients inside the bottle or tube. Reading the backside of your sunscreen (both the active and inactive ingredients) is the only single way for anyone to know if a product is truly safe and 99% of people don’t know how to do that, and/or don’t want to learn how to do that.

It doesn’t have to be difficult, stressful, or super expensive either, to choose the very best for yourself and your family … that’s why we created our company. We remove toxins, so you can protect yourself and your family.

Pure Haven offers products that will change your life, bring you peace, save your sanity, help you look and feel your best, without compromises. 


Pure Haven Sunscreens are your Solution!

Our sunscreens rub in better than any other truly non-toxic formula that we’ve ever tried (and that’s a lot) – and they protect for hours! Safe for babies, kids, too of course, with no scent. 

We can help you make your home a Pure Haven!

Pure Haven is the only company that makes a complete line of products that are 100% free of toxins, guaranteed … and they work!

To start learning more about the ingredients to avoid in your personal and home care products, check out this list of harmful ingredients as a starting point, but truthfully, this is why we make Pure Haven products – we do the research and obsessing over ingredients, so you don’t have to! 

Reach out to our team if you’d like to learn more about Pure Haven products, to order, and/or join our incredible team of Consultants (earn free products and income when you share with others, and shop at 30% off “wholesale prices” every day). We can help you take your health and future into your hands!

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