If you use sunscreen often, you’re probably wondering if it’s always good for you. While it contains several ingredients that protect your skin from damage, some of these ingredients may be harmful too. Here are some reasons why sunscreens could be harmful for you.
7 Side Effects Of Using Sunscreen
1. Vitamin D Deficiency
Using sunscreen in excess prevents sunlight from being absorbed by your skin. This hinders the synthesis of vitamin D – essential for bone growth – in your body, causing a vitamin D deficiency.1 If you have naturally dark skin, apply less sunscreen because you need to be exposed to the sun more to generate as much vitamin D as someone with a lighter skin tone. However, research suggests that using just enough sunscreen does not result in a vitamin D deficiency.
2. Skin Allergies
Sunscreens contain significant quantities of preservatives and ingredients. Therefore, reapplication on the skin causes irritation, swelling, and redness, which are symptoms of skin allergies. A preservative called methylisothiazolinone is one of the main causes of skin allergies2 caused by excess sunscreen use. PABA, or para-aminobenzoic acid, present in sunscreens is also known to cause skin allergies.3 Fortunately, many sunscreens today do not contain PABA; however, they do include a variation of it that isn’t harmful. So, the next time you buy sunscreen, check the label to ensure there’s no PABA in it. Also, remember to do a patch test to avoid allergic reactions.
3. Cell Damage
Many sunscreens contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as UV filters in the form of nanoparticles – very small particles. While these are believed to be able to penetrate the skin easily, they are likely to form free radicals4, which are known to damage skin cells. These free radicals may also lead to wrinkles on your skin.
4. Worsened Acne
Sunscreens may not be suitable for people who suffer from acne as they could further lead to blisters, redness, or rashes. Using oily or comedogenic sunscreens (that block your pores) like those with cocoa butter, soybean oil, or coconut may aggravate acne. However, the research available doesn’t adequately prove the adverse effects of sunscreen on acne.
5. Hormonal Disruptions
Oxybenzone, which is a widely used ingredient in sunscreen, may disrupt hormonal balance in your body. It is said to alter the levels and mimic the behavior of certain hormones. However, current research is insufficient to conclusively prove the link between oxybenzone and hormone level fluctuations.
6. Eye Irritation
When sunscreen enters your eyes, you may experience irritation and burning because of certain chemicals in it. If this happens, make sure that you rinse your eyes thoroughly with clean water.
7. Pus In Hair Follicles
When sunscreen comes in contact with your hair follicles, tiny, red blisters may form and get filled with pus. This could eventually lead to a more serious infection. So, always ensure that you wipe your forehead clean after using sunscreen with a clean tissue or towel.
Other Ways To Protect Yourself From UV Rays
As research is yet to confirm the extent to which sunscreen use may be harmful, it’s best to use it in moderation. Here are some things you can do additionally to protect yourself from the harsh sun.
- Ensure that you wear a good pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes from the harmful UV rays.
- Cover yourself enough to prevent skin damage when you step out in the sun; it’s also a good idea to wear a hat to protect your face and head.
- Go out either early in the morning or late in the afternoon. The sun is low and the intensity of UV radiations is less during these times of the day.
- If you can’t avoid going out when the sun is up, stay in the shade to avoid sunburns. Use an umbrella if possible.
Remember these possible side effects of sunscreen the next time you use it, and take necessary precautions.
|↑1||Holick, Michael F., Neil C. Binkley, Heike A. Bischoff-Ferrari, Catherine M. Gordon, David A. Hanley, Robert P. Heaney, M. Hassan Murad, and Connie M. Weaver. “Evaluation, treatment, and prevention of vitamin D deficiency: an Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 96, no. 7 (2011): 1911-1930.|
|↑2||Castanedo-Tardana, Mari Paz, and Kathryn A. Zug. “Methylisothiazolinone.” Dermatitis 24, no. 1 (2013): 2-6.|
|↑3||Thune, P. “Contact and photocontact allergy to sunscreens.” Photo-dermatology 1, no. 1 (1984): 5-9.|
|↑4||Dodd, Nicholas JF, and Awadhesh N. Jha. “Titanium dioxide induced cell damage: a proposed role of the carboxyl radical.” Mutation Research/Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis 660, no. 1 (2009): 79-82.|