Sunscreen: Choose one without unwanted chemicals
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Sunscreen: Choose one without unwanted chemicals

A new test of 35 sunscreens and sun sprays shows that you can choose several products, which do not contain unwanted chemicals that can affect the environment and your health.

Christel S. Kirkeby · Foto: Getty Images · 31. maj 2022

Sunscreen is an important supplement to shade and protective clothing when you need to protect yourself from the sun’s rays.

Fortunately, there are many good choices to choose from in our new test of sunscreens. 15 out of 35 products in the test get an A-rating. These products are without unwanted chemicals.

One in three sunscreens contains suspected endocrine disrupters

You can also find sunscreens that contain a range of unwanted chemicals.

In the test, 12 sunscreens get the lowest chemical grade, the C-rating. These products contain suspected endocrine disrupters.

Some of these chemicals are listed on the Danish Envorinmental Agency’s – and other authorities – list of endocrine dirsupters.

One suncreen in the test gets the C-rating, because it contains an environmentally damaging sun filter.

The cocktail-effect is problematic – not the individual sunscreen

Endocrine disrupters can be problematic in products due to the so-called cocktail-effect.

The cocktail-effect is a term for the exposure to problematic chemicals from different sources in your everyday life. The combined exposure from these products can pose a health risk.

As a product, sunscreen is safe and an important part of your sun protection. However, in general it is a good idea to reduce your combined exposure of endocrine disrupting chemicals when you can. A good advice would be to choose a sunscreen without these problematic chemicals.

Sunscreens ability to protect from the sun is not tested

The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals' test is a declaration test.

Our test team have examined the list of ingredients on the sunscreens for suspected endocrine disrupters, allergenic substances or environmentally damaging chemicals.

The sunscreens ability to protect against UVA or UVB rays is tested in laboratories by The Danish Consumer Council THINK. To see this test you have to be a member or log in.

8 tips for better sun protection

  • Avoid the sun between 12 and 15 o’clock when the sun’s rays are strongest.
  • Shade, clothes and a sunhat are great ways to protect your skin without problematic chemicals.
  • Children are particularly exposed to the sun. Children younger than 1 year of age should be kept in the shade. Older children should also use other sun protection than sunscreen.
  • Use the right sun factor. A minimum of 15 SPF in Denmark and a minimum of 30 SPF in countries where the sun’s rays are stronger. Also, remember to use a higher SPF if you are near the sea.
  • Use a handful of sunscreen, apply it thoroughly and multiple times to get enough sun protection.
  • Apply sunscreen often – especially if you tend to sweat, if you bath a lot or dry of the lotion with a towel.
  • Are you in an urgent need of sun lotion? In this case, we recommend that you use a sunscreen with unwanted chemicals rather than getting sun burned.
  • Use the app Kemiluppen and check your sunscreen for unwanted chemicals. The app is only available in Denmark.

About the test

  • We have tested sunscreens and sun sprays with SPF30. All products were bought in Danish stores and online in the spring of 2022. We contacted the companies to verify the information and that the products were the newest available.

    This is a declaration test. We have checked the ingredients listed on the products. We have not performed chemical analyses and therefore the test does not consider how well the products protect against the sun.

    The list of ingredients are examined for substances of concern. Such as endocrine disrupters, allergenic substances or environmentally damaging chemicals.

  • We have tested 35 sunscreen for unwanted chemicals in this test. This is the result:

    • 15 sunscreens get the best grade, A-rating.
    • 7 sunscreens get a middle grade, B-rating. These sunscreens contain perfume or environmentally damaging chemicals.
    • 13 sunscreens get the lowest grade, C-rating. These products contain one or more suspected endocrine disrupters or chemicals that are environmentally damaging.

    We found these unwanted substances in sunscreens:

    • Ethylhexyl salicylate
    • Octocrylene
    • Homosalate
    • Benzyl salicylate
    • Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate
    • Methylene bis-benzotriazolyl tetramethylbutylphenol (nano)
    • Isoamyl p-methoxycinnamate
    • Cyclopentasiloxane
    • Benzophenone-3
    • BHA
    • Diazolidinyl urea
    • Methylparabene, Butylparabene, Ethylparabene and Propylparabene