Sunscreen Additive and Skin Damage

An FDA study found a form of vitamin A, that’s used in sunscreens may actually speed up skin damage.  41% of over 500 sunscreens contain vitamin A, or retinyl palmitate, due to its popularity for preventing wrinkles in cosmetics.  However, preliminary data showed even low doses of this additive may be unsafe.

When applied to the skin, retinyl palmitate reacted with sunlight and increased the development of skin tumors and lesions.  This is disturbing since sunscreens are formulated and promoted as protection against sun damage. The Environmental Working Group researchers recommend only 39 (or eight percent) of the sunscreens on the market this summer.    

The FDA report said that the ideal sunscreen would completely block the UV rays that cause sunburn, immune suppression and damaging free radicals. It would remain effective on the skin for several hours and not form harmful ingredients when degraded by UV light.  But currently there is no sunscreen that meets all of these criteria.  The FDA will publish its final evaluation and conclusions in October 2010.

One of 39 sunscreens without vitamin A.

According to the EWG, some of the top tested sunscreen brands (other than a protective hat and clothing) include:

  1. Badger
  2. California Baby
  3. Loving Naturals
  4. Purple Prairie Botanicals
  5. Soleo Organics
  6. thinksport and thinkbaby
  7. UV Natural

The full list and details of the best and worst sunscreens can be found on the EWG’s website.

Apple c heart symbol_40x54Fit Tip: Some plant-based ingredients, such as avocado oil, shea butter, and carrot oil, contain carotenes which are converted to vitamin A in the body.  There is no evidence that these sources of vitamin A lead to the growth of tumors or lesions as retinyl palmitate has demonstrated.

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