How safe are our sunscreens?
21 May 2019

We know that a table of contents is not the most entertaining reading out there, but it is literally more important now than ever! Sunscreens from the United States are currently being re-examined, and it is the the ones containing chemical sun filters that are in trouble. That is, the ones that are absorbed by the skin to protect it from radiation. After a recent US study, funded by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), virtually all chemical UV-filters on the market are now investigated as potential health risks. The study showed that chemical substances are stored in bodily fluids and organs to a much greater extent than anticipated. The FDA now proposes a legislative amendment where chemical UV-filters may no longer be classified as safe to use, as the health hazards are greater than their sun-protecting benefits. All of these substances must now undergo extended toxicological tests that determine the risk of cancer, congenital malformations and hormonal disorders. 

Only natural sunscreens passed the test

Physical UV-filters, found in natural sunscreen products, were the only ones in the study that did not exceed the threshold value. Hence, Titanium dioxide and Zinc oxide are therefore still considered to be completely safe to use, according to the FDA. In Sweden, we follow the EU Commission's guidelines regarding approved UV-filters in sunscreen products. Many of these substances are among those that the FDA are now proposing to ban, including Octocrylene, which is one of the most common chemical UV-filters on the Swedish market today.

For 24 years, we have been pointing out how the skin absorbs what we put on it and that the body is subsequently affected. We have advocated the importance of only using pure, natural ingredients. Now, it finally seems like the winds of change are starting to blow and we predict an international, comprehensive legislative amendment regarding harmful substances, that we hope will apply to sunscreens as well as all other cosmetic products! 

Our answers to some of the most common questions about sunscreens!

What is the difference between chemical and physical sunscreens?

Mineral based sunscreens contain physical UV-filters in the form of natural minerals. There are two kinds - Titanium dioxide and Zinc oxide. Both of these minerals stay on the skin’s surface and protect the skin by reflecting the sun's radiation much like small mirrors. Traditional sunscreens contain mostly chemical UV-filters. Some of the most common are Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Isoamyl P-methoxycinnamate or Octocrylene. These chemicals are meant to protect against UV-rays by penetrating the skin and absorbing the radiation. 

We want to offer natural protection against the sun and only use Titanium Dioxide in our sun protection products, which filters all of the damaging ultraviolet rays (UVA, UVB and UVC). 

How do the sun’s rays work?

Out of all the sunrays reaching the earth, only 5% are ultraviolet radiation. However, these are incredibly powerful and they come in various forms - UVA, UVB and UVC. Historically, the ozone layer has blocked harmful UVC-rays from reaching the earth, but as pollution continues to thin this layer across the world, we will soon need to protect ourselves from UVC-rays too. Currently, however, UVA- and UVB- rays are the only ones that are determined to reach all the way down to the ground. UVA make up 95% of these rays and they basically go through everything. Clouds, smog, windows and even deep down in your skin. The rest are UVB-rays and they are responsible for providing the skin with enough energy to produce vitamin D and in turn create melanin that tan our skin. Your sunscreen product must protect against all of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Unfortunately, a lot of sunscreens on the market only contain protection against UVB. We believe that UVA-rays are just as dangerous as they go deep into the dermis, the thickest layer of the skin, virtually unnoticed. This is where all skin cell regeneration takes place, and the dermis also contains elastin and collagen that enable the skin to thrive. When UVA-rays reach the dermis, they start producing free radicals, which over time can lead to premature ageing of the skin, sun eczema, hyperpigmentation and skin cancer. 

What SPF should I use?

The SPF (Sun Protection Factor) tells you how much of the UV-rays the product filters away from your skin. There is a huge difference between SPF 2 and 20, but after that there is only about a few percent margin. This is why we don’t see a point in using SPF higher than 20 in our products. If you still prefer a stronger SPF, you may choose to apply our product in several layers. The more you rub in, the more solid the cover. You have reached the highest possible SPF once the skin turns white from the cream.

How do I protect my child from the sun?

Physical UV-filters are today the only substances that are documented harmless to apply to the skin. Titanium dioxide is recommended by dermatologists and it can also be used safely on children. However, children under the age of three should not be in the sun at all.

How do I avoid a chalky white cast on my skin from the sunscreen?

The white cast on the skin means that the product contains a natural UV-filter – Titanium dioxide or Zinc oxide – and that’s a good thing! The more chalky white your skin is the better protected it is from the sun! If you want to minimise the white appearance, apply our Sun Protecting Oil SPF 15 first and then put some of our Sun Lotion SPF 20 on top.