Sunscreen is something that you need to wear to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays, but not all sunscreen is created equal. Some people might have no problem wearing it, but it’s also possible for your skin to have a bad reaction to the common ingredients in most sunscreen formulas. You might not be aware that sunscreen chemicals are added to some other cosmetic or lotion products, which can cause you to have an allergic reaction.
Understanding Sunscreen Sensitivities
Contact dermatitis is a rash on your skin due to contact with an irritating substance, such as those used in common sunscreen formulas. Your skin could be irritated or having an allergic reaction which is more prominent on areas that have direct exposure to the sun, such as your face or where clothing isn’t protecting you. This is a known as photo-contact dermatitis and may also be a reaction to preservatives or fragrances used.
Those Prone to Allergies
Certain groups of people or individuals are more prone to developing an allergy to sunscreen. Females are more affected particularly because they are more prone to using cosmetics that can contain potentially irritating substances. Those with sun-damaged skin, sunscreen being applied to areas of damaged skin and people who work outdoors on a regular basis such as construction workers. The American Academy of Dermatology advises that everyone wear sunscreen because one in five Americans will eventually develop skin cancer due to the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Understanding How Sunscreen Works
There are two ways sunscreen works to protect your skin. The chemical absorbers in sunscreen absorb the energy from the sun as it hits your skin and turns it into less dangerous and damaging radiation. Physical blockers reflect the sun’s rays to prevent radiation from being absorbed and are commonly found in products used by people who spend significant time at the beach.
Chemicals That Can Cause Allergies
Everyone has a different reaction to chemicals and to the active ingredients found in many sunscreen products. It can be hard to pinpoint which ingredient is causing a reaction since some have multiple active ingredients. These are some of the ingredients found in many popular sunscreen products:
- Benzophenone – This has been used in sunscreen for quite some time and is one of the most common irritants in sunscreen formulas. Other names for it are eusolex, methanone, and diphenyl ketone.
- Dibenzoylmethane – This has been commonly used in sunscreen since 1997 in the United States and acts as a chemical absorber.
- Octocrylene – This is a newer chemical used in many sunscreen products and has the potential to cause contact dermatitis for individuals who have sensitive skin. It is typically used to enhance a product’s scent.
It’s important to protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun, but experiencing an allergic reaction is less than desirable and can be very serious. Be careful when selecting sunscreen, and maybe even consider the answer to the question, “What is the best all natural sunscreen?” to avoid those common allergenic chemicals.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Bu Screen for their insight into common allergens in sunscreen.