Sun Protection Problems: Carcinogens & Sunscreens  

Sunscreens are always a hot topic around summertime. Evidence that sun protection is incredibly important is everywhere, with skin cancers on the rise globally, particularly malignant melanomas.   

Protecting ourselves from the sun involves wearing wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen. While ultraviolet clothing availability and styles have increased, this has not eliminated the need for topical ultraviolet protection.  

Despite regulating topical sunscreens in many countries globally, the United States hasn’t always been able to keep up. Many globally banned ingredients are still used in sunscreens manufactured on our doorstep.  


Sunscreens are again under scrutiny regarding the possibility of carcinogenic ingredients. For an ingredient to be a carcinogen, it needs to be able to pass through skin and into the bloodstream. Studies over the years show evidence that some ingredients enter the bloodstream and can remain in the system for at least three weeks. In this case, daily topical application of these ingredients may cause harm over time.  

Traditionally, sunscreens are categorized into physical or chemical formulations. Physical sunscreens reflect ultraviolet rays, while chemical sunscreens are absorbed into skin and dispersed as heat. Chemical sunscreens are generally considered more effective for sun protection and can withstand water and heat exposure more effectively. It may be argued that all sunscreen ingredients are essentially chemicals, organic in the case of chemical sunscreens, such as those with carbon-based oxybenzone, and inorganic physical sunscreens, such as those with zinc and titanium dioxide.  

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Kirsten Sheridan has a higher national diploma in beauty therapy from the United Kingdom and is a licensed aesthetician. She has 20 years of experience as an aesthetician and educator, holds a teaching qualification through City and Guilds London, and is a CIDESCO diplomat. Sheridan’s other qualifications include massage therapy, aromatherapy, reflexology, and electrology. She has a personal training qualification through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), although not in active practice. In addition, she is the owner and founder of, an online learning hub for aestheticians. Sheridan has taught for Dermalogica, International Dermal Institute, San Francisco Institute of Esthetics and Cosmetology, San Jose City College, and The Dermal Sciences Institute.  

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