It is not easy to pick out the best sunscreen when the beauty aisles are full of sun protection products to choose from. There are two types of sunscreen – PHYSICAL and CHEMICAL, but one of them can have a few fairly negative side effects.

Come summertime, there’s something irresistible about soaking up some much needed rays, but as we know, sun worshipping can lead to burns, dark spots, wrinkles, loss of elasticity in the skin and skin cancer. That`s why sunscreen is a must! But there’s more – some sunscreens come with troubling ingredients, which might be secretly damaging your skin. It is important to be responsible with sun exposure, but many sunscreens might do more harm than good.

So what`s the difference between

Physical (or mineral based) sunscreens
sit on the top of the skin and reflect the sun rays like a mirror. There are just two types of natural filters – titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, and the latter is used in Madara Cosmetics sun protection products – it does not penetrate the skin, gives naturally broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection and has good evidence of safety. Physical sunscreen is the best choice for sensitive skin as it is less likely to cause irritation. And what we like the most is the simplicity of daily use – it protects the skin from the sun as soon as it is applied, so there’s no need to wait before you can expose yourself to the sun. Physical sunscreens used to leave a white cast or white streaks after application, making your face look paler than your neck or leaving a white residue on your skin. Thankfully that`s history now as there are some good options without the white film – it is possible to find safe and natural SPF-infused solutions without compromising silky smooth, luxury textures or creating a white old school coverage.

Chemical sunscreens
absorb UV light like a sponge inside the skin. This process may produce heat and free radicals. As they work in narrow spectrum, multiple chemical cocktail is needed to protect the skin properly. What most people don’t know is that chemical sunscreen may cause the eyes to sting, clog the pores, increase redness, brown spots or discolouration. Some studies prove that chemical sunscreen might even disrupt hormones, cause hormone-related cancer or generate free radicals inside the skin.
Researchers have found synthetic UV filters in 85% of human milk samples tested1. Oxybenzone and four other sunscreen filters were found in Swiss women’s breast milk, indicating that the developing foetus and newborns may be exposed to these substances.
But it`s not just about your own health. On May 1, Hawaii became the first state to pass a bill banning the sale of chemical sunscreens. As it turns out, ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate contributes to coral bleaching and they are harmful to ocean ecosystems.


Be intelligent about the sunscreens! Watch out for these damaging chemicals and enjoy a health-conscious summer.

Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3)
According to EWG (Environmental Working Group), this is the most worrisome ingredient commonly found in chemical sunscreens. This “bad boy” acts like an estrogen in the body2 and is associated with endometriosis in women.3 It can also cause allergic reactions4.

Octinoxate (Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate)
This chemical is also found in humans, including mother`s milk samples.1 Studies show possible photoallergic or allergenic effects4, hormone-like activity and an effect on reproductive system5.

Octocrylene (Octocrilene)
This common sunscreen ingredient may cause allergic skin reactions6.
Avobenzone (Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane)
Avobenzone is very popular in chemical sunscreens as it is effective in absorbing a wide range of UV rays. But researchers have found that it degrades in the sun, resulting in the release of free radicals. It is also associated with immunotoxicity or allergies7.

Homosalate (Benzoic acid, 2-hydroxy-, 3,3,5-trimethylcyclohexyl ester)
Another chemical filter found in mother`s milk1. There is an evidence that this ingredient disrupts estrogen, androgen and progesterone8.

Ethylhexyl Salicylate (Octisalate)
Lab studies show evidence of skin penetration9 and reports of skin allergy reactions10.


There are also hybrid sunscreens with both chemical and physical filters in the composition but that doesn`t eliminate the risk. Sometimes the chemical filters are defined as oganic but that`s because of the organic synthesis extraction not because of the organic compounds.


Survey and health assessment of UV filters (2015), a research by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency. Table of nine sunscreen chemicals and their toxicity information by EWG (Environmental Working Group).



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(1) Schlumpf M, Kypke K, Birchler M, Durrer S, Faass O, et al. 2008. Endocrine Active UV Filters: Developmental Toxicity and Exposure Through Breast Milk. Chimia 62: 1-7.
(2) Kunz PY, Galicia HF, Fent K. 2006. Comparison of in vitro and in vivo estrogenic activity of UV filters in fish. Toxicol Sci 90(2): 349-361.
(3) Kunisue, T. 2012. Environmental Science and Technology.
(4) Rodriguez E, Valbuena MC, Rey M, Porras de Quintana L. 2006. Causal agents of photoallergic contact dermatitis diagnosed in the national institute of dermatology of Colombia. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed 22(4): 189-192.
(5) Schneider S, Deckardt K, Hellwig J, Mellert W, Schulte S, van Ravenzwaay B. "Octyl methoxycinnamate: two generation reproduction toxicity in Wistar rats by dietary administration."
(6) de Groot AC, Roberts DW. 2014. Contact and photocontact allergy to octocrylene: a review. Contact Dermatitis. 70(14):193-204.
(7) Stitt WZD, Scott GA, Martin RE, Gaspari AA. 1996. Multiple chemical sensitivities, including inatrogenic allergic contact dermatitis, in a patient with chronic actinic dermatitis: implication for management. American Journal of Contact Dermatitis 7(3): 166-170.; Buckley D, Wayte J, O.
(8) Krause M, Kilt A, Blomberg Jensen M, et al. 2012. Sunscreens: are they beneficial for health? An overview of endocrine disrupting properties of UV-filters. Int J Andrology. 424–436.
(9) Walters KA, Brain KR, Howes D, et al. 1997. Percutaneous penetration of octyl salicylate from representative sunscreen formulations through human skin in vitro. 1219-1225.
(10) Singh M, Beck MH. 2007. Octyl Salicylate: a new contact sensitivity. Contact Dermatitis.