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CNN Says Sunscreens are in our Bloodstream – But Keep Wearing Them Until we KNOW They’ll Kill Us!

Katie Kimball playing in the water in sun-protective clothing

The news is always depressing, but sometimes it really makes me angry.

This time everyone is finally hearing what I’ve been saying for years about sunscreen, and then the media says to ignore the news.

A small study of 24 people has demonstrated that sunscreen chemicals enter the human bloodstream within the first day after using it. This is not a huge surprise, since oxybenzone, the most common sunscreen petrochemical ingredient, is found in 97% of human blood.

I reported about the FDA’s February 2019 announcement that GRASE (Generally Recognized as Safe and Effective) status was proposed to be removed from all 14 petrochemical active sunscreen ingredients, and people only cared a little bit.

Now CNN spends a few paragraphs in a viral article telling us that our sunscreen chemicals are definitely shooting right into the bloodstream and the rest of the article citing experts who say that we must use sunscreen and use it daily and we ought not change a single habit because of this new study.

Good grief.

Why not take this as an opportunity to educate people that there’s a safe and equally effective sun protection option to switch to? All we need is a movement toward reef safe, zinc-oxide based sun protection!

Hint: The reason is that sunscreen is manufactured by brands who pay a lot of money of online, print and television advertising. We don’t want any bad blood between CNN and Johnson&Johnson, now do we? 

Guess who isn’t beholden to big ad dollars?

Prtect your family from harmful chemicals in sunscreen.

The family who tested over 100 natural sunscreens and have been trying to shout from the rooftops for 10 years that we need to stop letting our kids be guinea pigs!

Natural Health Response to Sunscreen

Many in the natural health niche will run alllll the way to the other end of the spectrum, claiming that we don’t need any sunscreen at all, just a touch of coconut oil and a proper diet. I’m all about eating sun protective foods, but I’ve also seen plenty of sunburns in my kids and know that we need a balance.

Two young boys standing next to a pool of water

If you can live without any sun protection, your kids’ skin must not be as fair as mine, and perhaps you don’t live in a state of 10,000 lakes. It’s FUN to be outside right after lunch sometimes. It’s not fun to burn to a crisp, so excuse me while I put some mineral sunblock on my son who is going to a shadeless excursion in 15 minutes. Winking smile

Safe Sunscreen that Doesn’t Absorb into the Bloodstream

I don’t actually think safe, natural sun protection is that hard to figure out, and I do think it’s vitally important, more so even than soaps, shampoos, lotions, etc.

And thank goodness locations like Hawaii, Palau and Key West have already brought attention to this issue in the last few years by banning oxybenzone and octinoxate, two of the greatest offenders killing our coral reefs

RELATED: What’s happening now in sunscreen legislation and Reef-safe sunscreen

When those bans hit the news, the same thing happened as we see this week. Everyone freaked out that we’ll see an increase in skin cancer because people will just ditch their sunscreens!

That’s not necessary.

All you need to remember is the safe active ingredients:

zinc oxide and titanium dioxide

Both are minerals, not chemicals, and they are the two active ingredients I’d look for in a sun protection cream, although I put zinc oxide much higher up on my list than titanium.

Top Recommended Natural Mineral Sunscreens

They’re rated quite safe at the EWG Skin Deep Database. Although you’ll see plenty of sources say that these minerals BLOCK the sun, that’s not entirely accurate. They actually absorb the UV rays and turn them into either heat or energy. Heat is safer for your skin – that’s zinc oxide, and the reason that I only accept zinc-only creams on my top recommended list as of 2015.

If any other active ingredients are listed, I guarantee they’re petrochemicals. Guess how those works to protect your skin from the sun?

The chemicals must first seep into the skin, then interact in a chemical reaction with the sun before they stop anything from hurting you.

The problem? Chemical reactions naturally give off by-products. Free radicals bopping around under your skin is a very bad thing, particularly the deeper they get. You can read more about sunscreen and cancer right here at Kitchen Stewardship®, and now we know, thanks to the new research, that what I’ve learned from experts over the years has even more scientific basis. Yes Virginia, sunscreen really does get into your bloodstream.

I’m sticking with straight minerals, no chemicals. You may not find them at the corner drugstore (although they’re getting more common!), but believe me, it’s worth the search.

And I’m not alone – other bloggers have been trying to tell us this for years too, like Dawn at Small Footprint Family, and Erin at Health Nut News shared her response to the CNN coverage as well.

10 Reasons I Choose Mineral Sunblocks

The risks of chemical sunscreen are too much to ignore.

A young boy with sunscreen on his face in a blue shirt and smiling at the camera

1. No Absorption

Zinc oxide its on the surface of the skin, instead of absorbing like chemical sunscreens.

2. No Waiting

Mineral sunscreens work immediately upon application, instead of 20 minutes later. Plus no need to reapply if you haven’t washed off the cream itself.

If the zinc oxide is on your skin, it’s working. Petrochemical sunscreens degrade (the sun itself does it!) after about two hours, hence the reapplication necessity!

3. No Free Radicals Under your Skin

There’s no need for a chemical reaction under the surface of your skin to protect me from the sun. That gives me the heebie jeebies.

Chemical sunscreens emit free radicals that may cause cancer worse than the sun once they’ve absorbed deeply into your skin (about 2 hours after application). Applying sunscreen once and then not again may be more harmful than not using any sun protection.

Plus conventional sunscreens are endocrine disruptors that mess with  your hormones, NOT something I want to mess with for my kids.

4. Zinc is Edible

Zinc is in my multivitamin, so why not put it on my skin?

5. Zinc Oxide is Safe for Babies

A baby with sunglasses on

Check the active ingredient on your tube of diaper cream – it’s most likely zinc oxide!

Zinc is the only sunscreen active ingredient that the FDA rates safe for babies under 6 months old. Find safe sunscreens for babies here.

6. No expiration dates

No more wondering, “Will last year’s tube protect my kiddos’ skin this summer, or do I have to throw it out?” Minerals don’t degrade or lose their effectiveness like chemical sunscreens do.

As long as you can spread the lotion, you’re protected. Note: Yep, there are still expiration dates on the tube. That’s because manufacturers have to include them, plus the oils used sometimes degrade. But the zinc oxide will ALWAYS keep working! 

7. Simple Switch to Natural Sunscreen

It’s easy to remember two minerals – zinc oxide and titanium dioxide – instead of trying to remember which of a dozen chemicals are safer and less safe. But if you avoid one, avoid oxybenzone. It’s wreaking havoc on our fertility!

8. Broad Spectrum Protection from Zinc Oxide

A man with sunscreen on his face looking at the camera

Zinc oxide is broad spectrum – protecting from UVA and UVB rays – all by itself!

The chemical stuff needs at least two different chemicals mixed together, so you have to be more aware of what you’re buying.

9. Better Ingredients in Natural Sunscreens

Many mineral sunscreens are made by conscientious companies like Kabana and Kokua (code KS takes 15% off), who take care to use well-sourced ingredients and ones that are safe for your skin as well.

You find far fewer parabens and other hormone disruptors and carcinogens in natural mineral sunscreens.

You can even find great brands to wear as a daily facial foundation or moisturizer with SPF – we love our tinted ‘screens for the faces!

10. Mineral Sunscreens aren’t So White Anymore!!!

Every article that covers this new research is quick to say that mineral active ingredients “leave a telltale white coating.” What CNN isn’t realizing is that they’re reporting old news. Zinc and titanium used to leave a white sheen on the skin.

Brands are getting SO much better at application now!

I should know.

I’ve tested over 100 kinds of mineral sunscreen on my family, so I know what works.

I totally understand that you’re busy — you can’t even think of or research one.more.thing. Zero bandwidth.

But I’ve done all the work for you! We have only liked about 10 of those 100check out the best mineral sunscreens that really work (and don’t look white!).


And Two Reasons I “Don’t” Choose Mineral Sunscreens…

Sometimes I don’t want to wear any sunscreen, and the two reasons are at opposite ends of the spectrum (pun intended):

1. We need the sun to help us make Vitamin D in our skin. Many times, especially if I’m out before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m., or if I’ll be out a short time or will be able to find some shade off and on, I choose to wear no sun protection in order to soak in some of the healthful benefits of the sun’s rays. It’s all about smart sun exposure, not just sun protection and hiding from it at all costs.

2. There are some mineral sunblocks that cause problems, too. If the cream uses nano particles of zinc oxide (the better to rub it in, my dear), there are certain health risks associated with that, too. That’s why I note the nano or micro particles used and avoided in each of the safe sunscreen reviews.

Your Choice: Research on Your Kids or Safe Sunscreen

Here’s the bottom line: You can do what mainstream media is telling you to do and make no changes. Keep slathering on petrochemical sunscreen and wait to see what happens. 

Or you can look around at our world:

  • Higher skin cancer rates than ever
  • More fertility issues than ever
  • Hormone levels needing remediation in younger and younger people
  • Depression rates soaring

None of these are proven (yet) to be related to endocrine disruptors or carcinogens from sunscreen in our blood.

But with this new research, we’re one step closer to connecting some dots.

Are you going to wait until the picture is complete or predict that it’s a disaster and pull your kids from the nationwide experiment?

As for me, I know that our bodies are created to withstand many things. We can handle some toxins here and there and be fine.

But I believe that our world has come to a point where there’s no longer a “here and there” because it’s everywhere. And I’m taking all precautions I can to keep my kids’ fertility and health as intact as I can!

How about you?

Are you going to take action on this information? Or are you going to listen to CNN and keep doing what you’ve been doing?

Too much to look through right now?

I organized alllll the sunscreens we reviewed in their recommendation category – one page at-a-glance to find out what is safe to buy AND works! Print it or save to your phone for reference!

The guide also includes answers to questions people ask me all the time:

  • Which brand rubs in the clearest?
  • What’s the best for all day outdoor sports?
  • How do I save money on natural sunscreens?
  • What looks good on ladies’ faces?
  • Is there an option that is FAST to apply to wiggly kids?

I’ll send a copy to your email so you can see it right away and find it again later!

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

About The Author

16 thoughts on “CNN Says Sunscreens are in our Bloodstream – But Keep Wearing Them Until we KNOW They’ll Kill Us!”

  1. Thanks for the great research, Katie! My sister and I have been making our own mineral sunscreen sticks, but it’s really nice to have some healthy commercial options to throw in the beach bag.

  2. This week the FDA put out new regulations for all sunscreens which will be required next June: companies will no longer be allowed to label any sun protection product as a “sunblock” regardless of ingredients. Also, SPF claims will be limited to 50 and lower and “broad spectrum” protection must be proven with data.
    Please note also that all sun protection lotions and creams are required by law to have an expiration date. These dates are marked on every tube and jar, so you never need to wonder if the creams are still good.
    Also, I wonder where you got your information that chemical sunscreens absorb into the skin to work? This is simply not true. The chemical based creams sit on top of your skin due to film formers in the product. Certainly some ingredients soak into your skin, but they are generally the same as are absorbed when using the mineral based creams.

    1. Victoria,
      I saw those, although I don’t actually see the part about the word “sunblock” in the few media articles I read. They mentioned that “water resistant” and “sweatproof” will be banned on labels. Do you have a source for that one?

      As for the source for how sunscreen chemicals work, see here for more: Looks like it was mostly the Wall Street Journal, but I usually find sources in multiple places and end up using one more heavily than others.

      Thanks! Katie

  3. We found that when we ate a very healthy diet–no sugar, lots of fresh veggies and fruits that we didn’t burn very easily. When we got lazy and ate a poor diet (over the course of several months), we did burn–OUCH!
    Now we are back to a great diet and use sunscreen only when we will be in the intense sun for a long period of time. Then we only use the safe stuff. We’ll stay inside before using those strange chemicals.

  4. I noticed the aveeno mineral block too, the tube is tiny though and it’s rated at a 3. My 3 rating sunscreen is the coppertone kids or water babies pure and simple because it’s easy to find anywhere and it’s affordable.
    I do want to get the stick though, I need something that is easy to apply to the face and the stick is rated a 1!

    I’m curious about the Albe Botanica that you got last year, it was at the end of the reviews but you had just gotten it and not used it yet. Any other comments on that?
    I’ve been trying to find a safe sunscreen that is water resistant and very affordable and it’s been so hard. I found the Alba Botanica kids mineral bunblock (rated a 2, the vanilla one is a 3) for just $5.47 for 4 oz on and they have free anytime shipping on any order. I ordered two tubes, but it’s back ordered until I don’t know when. So I just picked up some Kiss my face kids sunblock that I think is new this year, I didn’t see it last year and it’s not on the EWG list yet. I think it looks pretty good though, I’d guess it would be rated a 1 or 2. I got it because it was on sale and I had a coupon, but otherwise it would be really pricy.

    I’m hoping that more options become available in lower price ranges too. It seems like there are a lot more options this year than last, so maybe companies are catching on!

    1. Holly,
      I wanted to take a look at the Alba again before I answered your question, but I’m afraid I’ve killed it! 🙁 It was in our diaper bag last summer and ended up living in my van all winter. The freezing and thawing was too much – it’s totally separated and I can’t get it to go back together again. However, it remains one of my son’s favorite scents, the ingredients are good, and it went on well. I’d go for it since the price is also right! Just don’t let it freeze… 🙂 Katie

  5. Emily @ Random Recycling

    I’m curious to hear more about the Aveeno Mineral Block that is new this year. I purchased the stick and have used it once so far with good results. I haven’t used it yet on my 4 mo old, trying to see if anyone has reviewed it yet. I like that it’s affordable, especially with sales and coupons available for this product.

    1. Emily, I updated the natural sunscreen review with a section on evaluating sunscreens not on the list – check it out and read the ingredients on the Aveeno to see what you think. I haven’t seen it yet myself. 🙂 katie

  6. Looking forward to your new reviews. I haven’t applied sunscreen in so long I can’t recall-but about 2 years ago. I grew up in the AZ desert and we were outside all.the.time. My skin was a deep brown color and I rarely had a sunburn. I think genetics plays a role, but have never researched that opinion. When sunscreens came on the market though, I jumped on it like a majority of people did and wore 8-15 depending on how long I’d be out. Kinda gross to think about now. My son (adopted) is part Navajo and doesn’t burn either, so we just don’t even bother. My husband on the other hand, still likes to apply sunscreen if he’ll be outside more than an hour. Once I read your reviews I’ll be able to choose one for him that won’t give me sticky hands when he asks me to put it on his back!

  7. Katie,
    Oh, wow, I appreciate how much TIME you save me 🙂 Thanks for the fantastic research. I, too, have heard that zinc oxide is better than titanium oxide. And although zinc oxide even shows up as a hazard rating (albeit low), it’s because it’s only dangerous if you inhale the powder form, which most of us don’t try to do 🙂

  8. Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama

    My kids don’t burn…even though they are VERY fair, and often out for an hour or two in the direct sun in the middle of the day. I don’t fully understand why that is, but they just don’t. They never have. I always watch carefully if we are at a park or something but…nope.

    That said, supposing we ever were going to a beach or some place where we’d be more than a few hours, like an ALL DAY thing…I do have some Badger brand. Its active ingredient is only zinc oxide, which some say is safer than titanium dioxide (I do have some Burt’s Bees too, which contains both). They’re two years old and I’ve never used them…good to know I still could, if I wanted! Though given our history and the fact that my kids still nap I think I’d be inclined to just pull us inside for a few hours a day to take a break, even if we were on vacation somewhere sunny.

  9. Here is an article from the non-profit that I do volunteer work for. You might like to read it.

  10. Both Aveeno and Nivea are offering mineral sunblocks, sold at Target. We used Nivea this weekend- I was super pleased with it (three of my kids cannot wear chemical sunblocks, they get hives.) I bought the face stick to keep in my purse.

    I have a post upcoming about it.

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