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Clearing Up The Sunscreen Confusion

By Mike Smiley April 30, 2015 0 comments

As a loyal customer of My Skin’s Friend, you know that we won’t offer a product unless we have done our homework and determined that we can make it more effective and more skin friendly than any of the competitors.  Our passion is helping people avoid chemicals by creating natural and organic products to help heal and protect our skin from environmental elements.

One of the products we’ve been improving during the winter months is a new and much improved organic sunscreen. As sunscreens go, our current one was one of the best. I used it personally on two recent trips to South America and was thrilled with the way it protected me against the hot tropical sun without the worry of that same solar heat and radiation simmering my skin in chemicals that were perhaps being marinated into my skin and blood stream.

As I watched mommies at the beach and pool slathering some of the popular brands of chemical soups onto their babies and then themselves, it made me sad because I knew that those mommies thought they were doing what was best for those sweet babies but I wondered if they were only trading one danger for another. 

Looking at the myrid of choices on the sunscreen section at the local Walgreens and Whole Foods, I saw that almost every one there had the same basic ingredients. These products typically include a combination of two to six of these active ingredients: oxybenzoneavobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. The mineral based sunscreens use zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. But what exactly are these chemicals and what should you know before covering your body with them.

The table below outlines human exposure and toxicity information for nine FDA-approved sunscreen chemicals.  We asked these questions:

  • Will the chemical penetrate skin and reach living tissues?
  • Will it disrupt the hormone system? 
  • Can it affect the reproductive and thyroid systems and, in the case of fetal or childhood exposure, permanently alter reproductive development or behavior?
  • Can it cause a skin allergy?
  • What if it is inhaled?
  • Other toxicity concerns?

 Here’s what we found.



EWG Hazard Score

Use in U.S. sunscreens

Skin Penetration

Hormone disruption

Skin Allergy

Other concerns


UV filters with higher toxicity concerns




Detected in nearly every American; found in mother’s milk; 1-to-9% skin penetration in lab studies

Acts like estrogen in the body; alters sperm production in animals; associated with endometriosis in women

Relatively high rates of skin allergy

Janjua 2004, Janjua 2008, Sarveiya 2004, Gonzalez 2006, Rodriguez 2006, Krause 2012

Octinoxate (Octylmethoxycinnamate)



Found in mothers’ milk; less than 1% skin penetration in human and laboratory studies

Hormone-like activity; reproductive system, thyroid and behavioral alterations in animal studies

Moderate rates of skin allergy

Krause 2012, Sarveiya 2004, Rodriguez, 2006, Klinubol 2008

UV filters with moderate toxicity concerns




Found in mothers’ milk; skin penetration less than 1%  in human and laboratory studies

Disrupts estrogen, androgen and progesterone

Toxic breakdown products

Krause 2012, Sarveiya 2004, SCCNFP 2006



Widespread; stabilizes avobenzone

Skin penetration in lab studies

Rarely reported skin allergy

Walters 1997, Shaw 2006 Singh 2007




Found in mothers’ milk; skin penetration in lab studies

Relatively high rates of skin allergy

Krause 2012, Bryden 2006, Hayden 2005

UV filters with lower toxicity concerns

Titanium Dioxide

2 (topical use), 6 (powder or spray)


No finding of skin penetration

No evidence of hormone disruption


Inhalation concerns

Gamer 2006, Nohynek 2007, Wu 2009, Sadrieh 2010, Takeda 2009, Shimizu 2009, Park 2009, IARC 2006b

Zinc Oxide

2 (topical use), 4 (powder or spray)

Widespread; excellent UVA protection

Less than 0.01% skin penetration in human volunteers

No evidence of hormone disruption


Inhalation concerns

Gulson 2012, Sayes 2007, Nohynek 2007, SCCS 2012



Widespread; best UVA protection of chemical filters

Very limited skin penetration

No evidence of hormone disruption

Relatively high rates of skin allergy

Klinubol 2008, Bryden 2006, Hayden 2005, Montenegro 2008

Mexoryl SX


Uncommon; pending FDA approval; offers good, stable UVA protection

Less than 0.16% penetrated the skin of human volunteers

No evidence of hormone disruption

Skin allergy is rare

Benech-Kieffer 2003, Fourtanier2008

6 other ingredients approved in the U.S. are rarely used in sunscreens: benzophenone-4, benzophenone-8, menthyl anthranilate, PABA, Padimate O, and trolamine salicylate


Confused? Well, if you aren’t you’re probably a chemist or in another line of work that helps you parse this information into something you can use.

You'll notice that titanium dioxide is shown to be good too and from what we've been able to find,  it is indeed an excellent reflector of sunlight. So why didn't we put titanium dioxide in our formula? Because there are still concerns expressed by some agencies regarding the overall long term safety of titanium oxide. You can ready more about it in this article as it provides more insight into possible dangers using this property that is the primary ingredient in most paints to give it opacity. Is it safe? Maybe but we really don't know and as such, we elected to omit it from My Skin's Friend Sunscreen.

After months of research and experimenting with various recipes, we believe we've created one of the best, most skin friendly combination sunscreens and anti-oxidant combinations in the world!

Introducing My Skin’s Friend NEW AND IMPROVED Sunscreen with zinc oxide and sweet potato extract!

The first thing you’ll notice about this formula is that it contains NO titanium dioxide. Although it is known that titanium dioxide provides a broad spectrum sun dispersement, as mentioned above, there are some concerns that titanium may also be a carcinogen and we simply refuse to put anything in any of My Skin’s Friend products that are not completely free of such concerns.

The active ingredient is zinc oxide. The next thing you’ll notice is that unlike so many sunscreens with zinc oxide as its main UV blocker is how quickly it disappears onto the skin.   Unlike our original formula, this new creation is made from a smaller particle zinc oxide (but NOT nano sized) so it doesn’t leave your skin with that white film.

But this formula also includes an ingredient that is found in no other sunscreen of any price in the world. We’ve added our purple sweet potato extract to this formula like that found in our very popular sweet potato lotion. Here’s why.

As the skin is exposed to the sun’s UV rays, the zinc oxide reflects it back, thus protecting the skin just as an umbrella does. But just like the umbrella, there are always some UV rays that make it to the skin. That’s why all sunscreens, including ours, must be reapplied every hour or so depending on the activity you are engaged in, in order to cover any areas that might be letting UV rays through due to perspiration, swimming, etc.

When the UV rays do hit the skin, it produces free radicals. These free radicals are what causes the skin to burn and look damaged.  While the zinc oxide based sunscreen is shielding the skin, the sweet potato extract which is super rich in anti-oxidants is actually repairing the skin by helping neutralize free radicals being produced by the sun’s exposure.  My Skin’s Friend double action is the only one of its kind in the world as far as we know.

Whether you’re going to be spending time at the pool, beach, back yard, cycling, walking, well, you get the idea, anywhere in the outdoors, you need to make sure your skin is protected from UV rays and with My Skin’s Friend Sunscreen with sweet potato extract and zinc oxide, you can be confident you’re skin is getting the maximum protection it needs without any chemicals, alcohols, parabens or anything else that isn’t as natural as you are.

So get ready for summer and keep those babies protected naturally and organically with the help of My Skin’s Friend NEW & Improved Sunscreen.



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