Sunscreen Ingredients to Avoid: Does Your Sunscreen Contain Toxic Chemicals?

Sunscreen Ingredients to Avoid and Sunscreen Lotions Without Toxic Chemicals

Check the label of your sunscreen or sunblock for both the active and inactive ingredients. It’s best if your sunscreen contains only the active ingredient zinc oxide (it may also contain titanium dioxide). But if your topical sunscreen/sunblock has any of the following toxic chemicals it could actually be doing more harm than good! Here’s a list of some of the sunscreen ingredients to avoid:

  • Avobenzone (Parsol 1789, Eusolex 9020, Escalol 517)
  • Oxybenzone (benzophenone-3, Eusolex 4360, Escalol 567)
  • Dioxybenzone (benzophenone-8)
  • Octocrylene
  • Sulisobenzone (benzophenone-4)
  • Phenylbenzimidazole sulfonic acid (ensulizole)
  • Homosalate
  • Cinoxate
  • PABA (4-Aminobenzoic acid, para-aminobenzoic acid)
  • Padimate O (OD-PABA, octyldimethyl PABA, Escalol 507)
  • Trolamine salicylate
  • Octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC)

In addition, avoid sunscreen lotions with the micronized versions of these compounds (use only un-micronized versions):

  • Zinc oxide (micronized varieties)
  • Titanium dioxide (micronized varieties)

Finally, this common ingredient in some sunscreens, in addition to lotions and cosmetics, may increase the damage that is done to your skin during sun exposure, so be sure to avoid it:

  • Vitamin A (as retinyl palmitate)

Please Note: This is an incomplete list, as there are many other ingredients used in sunscreen lotions that can be harmful. However, the most common sunscreen ingredients to avoid are here, and by following these recommendations you are much more likely to find a sunscreen lotion that is as helpful and healthy as possible.

You can find more information about some of these chemicals from non-biased parties like the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Here are some topical sunscreen lotion recommendations.