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Chemical or Mineral: Do You Know What’s in Your Sunscreen?

Both chemical and mineral (physical) sunscreens provide protection from the sun’s rays. Physical sunscreens act just as they sound – creating a physical barrier of minerals (zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide) to block UV rays. These sunscreens became unpopular years ago because of the “ghosting” effect the white minerals would leave on skin.

Chemical sunscreens work by creating a chemical reaction that changes the rays into heat and releasing it. Because they are easy to apply, effective and don’t leave the white residue, they became very popular.

However, studies are indicating that the chemicals in chemical sunscreens (typically a combination of two of the following: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate) are being absorbed into the skin. Concerns of this exposure has ranged from allergen and irritation to hormone disruption and cancer.

While there are no studies to definitively prove if and to what extent chemical sunscreen ingredients are harmful, some manufacturers are moving away from chemical sunscreens out of concern.

As part of a larger sunscreen safety and effectiveness investigation, the FDA is adopting new processes and regulations for all sunscreens. In the meantime, consumers should read labels and do their own research to make informed purchases for their health.

The Spa at Woodside has chosen the Coola line of physical sunscreens to sell at The Spa boutique and the Sundries counter at the Adult Pool. These products meet The Spa’s standards of quality, are highly rated by The Environmental Working Group and regarded as a “clean” sunscreen.

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