Is Your Sunscreen Harming You?

by Heather

It’s really no surprise to anyone when I get sunburned within in minutes of stepping outside. I think I’ve even gotten sunburnt in the middle of winter before.

I’ve pretty much got a routine down now that I’m older and wiser. It basically involves slathering myself in sunscreen even before I go outside, and then again every 30 minutes or less. Needless to say I go through a lot of sunscreen.

Although I wasn’t expecting much sun this past weekend in CT, my routine was no different- I applied sunscreen frantically all day long. And I still got burnt.

It made me wonder if the can of sunscreen I grabbed from the depths of the bathroom sink had gone bad over the winter and I wasn’t protecting myself at all, so when I got home I did some research.

Turns out the sunscreen I was using was pretty stable, so it was just me and my uncanny ability to burn anywhere, any time. But what I did find was even more frightening.

neutrogena sunscreen

My skin is super, super sensitive to sunscreen, so I use Neutrogena. For years I used to Water Babies because sunscreen hurt so bad to put on, but then Neutrogena came out with their “cooling mist” sunscreen and it rocked.

Until now.

The Environmental Work Group rates products on their toxicity in a number of areas. They give each product a rating from 0-10, 0 being safe and 10 being high risk. Their Skin Deep cosmetics database rates all things cosmetic- from makeup to lotion to perfume and more.

beauty supplies

Guess what the Neutrogena sunscreen was? A SEVEN.

environmental work group skin deep cosmetic database neutrogena sunscreen

skin deep sunscreen toxicity ratings

Of course this makes me wonder about the other stuff I’m putting on my skin.

My shaving cream that I naively thought was safe because it said it was paraben-free? Not in the system, but the company as a whole is rated 1-6. 1 I’m ok with- 6 I’m not.

eos shaving cream

My face wash? The exact one I use isn’t listed- but 3 similar ones are and they’re a 5, 6, and 7.

neutrogena oil free acne wash redness soothing

My deodorant- a 4 or 5.

degree ultra clear deodorant

My makeup, at least is safe. Although I don’t wear makeup more often than I do, so that wouldn’t have been a huge concern.

Fullscreen capture 632011 90136 AM

I switched to toxin-free household cleaners earlier this year, which I’m really happy about, but maybe it’s time to look at more than just my cleaning supplies…

shaklee toxin free house cleaning supplies

Considering how much sunscreen I use, all year round, but especially in the hot months of summer, it’s time to find some new sunscreen to be loyal to. Adios, Neutrogena.


Do you pay attention to what ingredients you use on your skin? What about in your home?

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie @ Healthy Heddleston June 3, 2011 at 8:39 am
Wow this makes me nervous. I'm going to go look at that website now...
Brittany (A Healthy Slice of Life) June 3, 2011 at 8:51 am
I've been meaning to look into this! I use sunscreen all the time and now that I preg, I'm nervous about what is in it. Any brand recommendations?
Heather June 3, 2011 at 12:04 pm
Especially important if your pregnant!! Some of the ones they rated the best were Loving Naturals, California Baby, and thinkBaby/thinkSport, which were all kinda expensive. The Coppertone sensitive skin was good too, and a lot cheaper. Most of the time anything made for a baby is a good bet, but there's some scary baby stuff on that list too!
Theresa June 3, 2011 at 9:12 am
I just checked the sunscreen I use (No-Ad 30 & 60) and they got a 7! It's really hard to see in the database what sunscreens ARE good for us...are available in my area...and WORK too...
Heather June 3, 2011 at 12:06 pm
I know, I'm scared to switch to a new brand- I don't want to find out it doesn't work with a bad sunburn! The site also rated it's level of protection, so hopefully that's pretty accurate. A lot of the good ones were expensive and don't seem to be easy to find in a store...
Amber June 3, 2011 at 10:17 am
Holy crap, this post freaked me out. I have to go straight home today and look up what I've been slathering on my babies all summer long. PS Bare minerals is so where it's at. Love that make-up. Though, I believe we've had this conversation before.
Heather June 3, 2011 at 12:07 pm
I almost panicked the other day because my mineral veil is almost gone. And by almost I mean half, and that's serious.
Amber Starr @ Love, Laugh, Live Well June 3, 2011 at 10:36 am
Yikes, this makes me nervous! Definitely going to check and see what some of my daily use items are rated (I have lots of issues finding a good sunscreen that doesn't completely burn and turn my face red when i put it on too). I really try to make sure to now use harsh chemicals around the house, but I guess I never really thought about the stuff I use on my body. Scary to think that this is allowed.
Heather June 3, 2011 at 12:08 pm
I know- I was so happy to find a sunscreen that didn't burn my face off and now I have to start all over!
Kelly June 3, 2011 at 11:38 am
Back when I was actively in Xango is when they came out with their skin care lines Glimpse and Juni that all have "0" But that doesn't help with sunscreen - Blue LIzard has a "1" I think. I got mine at CVS and it works pretty good. I think it is made in Australia. My favorite redken shampoo is a "9" :( When reading ingredients look for phylates and fragrance = bad!
Heather June 3, 2011 at 12:10 pm
I'm pretty sure it was you that first made me realize parabens were bad!! I don't even want to look at my bottles are too big & full to make me stop using it ;)
Sarah for Real June 3, 2011 at 1:37 pm
Awesome post! Thank you for the information. I try to use "natural" products but sometimes it is very difficult to tell what's natural if you're not a chemist. Thanks again!
Paige @ Running Around Normal June 3, 2011 at 2:29 pm
I was going to ask what you were planning on switching too, but then read the comments:) I have Neutregena too! I think I'll switch to Coppertone.
Heather June 3, 2011 at 4:03 pm
I was thinking about the thinkSport by Livestrong, but price-wise, I'm going with the Coppertone (if I can find the right one)! Ahh.
Elizabeth June 3, 2011 at 3:19 pm
I pay such close attention that my family claims that I'm "scared of everything". I figure that if I'm careful about what I put IN my body, I should be careful of what I put ON it as well! Good luck on your sunscreen search - I've read that the ones with titanium and zinc oxide are better because they work by reflecting the sun's rays as opposed to the other type, which absorbs them.
Julie @ Wearing Mascara June 3, 2011 at 7:22 pm
What an excellent resource! I'm always so cautious of what I put on my face. In previous years, I would overdo it by using way too much product. Now, I have a much simpler routine. This website is helpful in making sure that even my simple routine is not doing harm. Thanks!
Lauren June 3, 2011 at 7:30 pm
This is kinda eye-opening because I always use Neutrogena! I pay attention to what goes into my mouth, so I should worry about what goes into my body via my skin too.
Karen@WaistingTime June 4, 2011 at 9:15 am
Very thought provoking! I have to admit I don't pay attention. I do have reactions to anti-aging products though so guess I will need to age gracefully:) Came by today for the LBS tea party.
Run DMT June 4, 2011 at 9:31 am
My girls are very very fair and super sensitive to sunblock. When my youngest daughter was about a year old, she was highly sensitive to sunblock and would break out in hives. Back then, I bought California Baby sunblock and Nature's Gate Kids sunblock. Both did the trick, but were very costly since we went through so much of it. Thankfully, she out grew it. Now, Water Babies seems to do its job but when it's not on sale and I don't have any coupons for it, I go with Target Kids sunblock. Its super cheap and works brilliantly. I don't know how "safe" it is but sometimes you can't worry about that stuff when skin cancer is a factor. Visiting here from LBS! Love that I found another runner blogger! :-)
Dancin Momma June 4, 2011 at 2:59 pm
Great post and link! I came from LBS
lindsay June 5, 2011 at 4:14 pm
i have to be very particular with skin products... my skin is so tempermental! i was kind of shocked that my tom's deodorant is a 4! i thought that was a good brand.
Lauren @ Sassy Molassy June 6, 2011 at 3:49 pm
Isnt that crazy? Even when we think we're picking a good solid brand and then you realize you can't trust anything! Ugh. Thanks for the great post!
Mimi June 8, 2011 at 11:24 am
Wow, that is crazy! I'm going to have to keep that site in mind and go through my products. I remember seeing something similar and I think what we were using was terrible!
Bibi June 8, 2011 at 11:31 am
Very interesting and educational post....never mind eye opening. My youngest has a very sensitive skin so I have to pay close attention to what's in certain products otherwise his skin will burn and he'll break out in a rash. I try to use organic and natural products as much as possible. ~tumbled~
Alison Golden - The Secret Life of a Warrior Woman June 8, 2011 at 12:37 pm
This is all such scary stuff. We are slowly moving with body products what has been started with food - becoming aware of the harmful products in our every day things. Thanks for highlighting this.
Nicole Rivera June 8, 2011 at 7:51 pm
Holy COW!! I use Neutrogena and lately I have been breaking out into all kinds of crazy hives EVEN THOUGH I'M wearing it! Now you're making me wonder if I am breaking out BECAUSE I am wearing it!! I am going to have to look up my version (60SPF). Thank you so much for this post!!
Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama June 9, 2011 at 12:51 pm
Great post! I've been writing about these issues too. It's so scary how many products we think are healthy choices are actually filled with dangerous toxins. I'm so glad you wrote this because I think the more we all share this info, the more aware the general public will become, and eventually, companies will have to start making changes. Stumbled :-)
Kristl Story June 9, 2011 at 5:25 pm
fyi...beware of self tanning lotions too! I broke out in hives last summer, and it turned out to be an ingredient that is in self-tanners. My doctor said it is a common allergy. I can't remember the ingredient, but they all have, it's back to pale white skin this summer! stumbled!
Amy ~ Eat. Live. Laugh. Shop. June 9, 2011 at 6:08 pm
I love EWG! I even use their sunscreen app for when I'm on the go or on vacation!
Dr. Julie-Ann aka The Modern Retro Woman June 10, 2011 at 9:39 pm
I, too, burn within minutes of being outside. I've been using Shade for eons--my derma told me to use it to prevent skin cancer--now I'll have to go check out the rating! Thanks! {Stumbled}
Jessy June 17, 2011 at 2:57 pm
i get sunburn soooo easy, and im allergic to certain sunscreen ingridient, the neotrogena one i tried when i was in highschool, and it give me rashes on my arm...i didnt even dare to put that on my face~~~~now i only use sheisido~~~cuz so far no allergy reaction~~~~ Jessy

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: