What to Avoid in Sunscreen: The Bad Ingredients

It's important that you know what to avoid in sunscreen. Learn more about these harmful ingredients by checking out this guide.

The skincare movement has inspired many women and men to start taking better care of their skin. Whether it's addressing acne or hyperpigmentation, everyone has a unique list of favorite products. Many like to add skin boosters like toner, serum, and ampoules.

However, one product that you can't forego is sunscreen. 52% of people are now more diligent about wearing sunscreen when going outside. As with any skincare product, choosing the right sunscreen is vital to avoiding breakouts.

Sunscreen tends to lay thick, which can be scary for people with clog-prone skin. So, how do you get your daily sun protection without risking a breakout? The answer is by checking the ingredients.

Read on to discover what to avoid in sunscreen and how to pick the right product for your needs.

Oxybenzone and Octinoxate

Most sunscreen brands contain oxybenzone and octinoxate. Although effective in absorbing harmful UV rays, they endanger coral reefs. Experts link these chemicals to coral bleaching.

Coral bleaching refers to when corals release the symbiotic algae living in their body. When this happens, they turn white and weak to diseases.

Hawaiian authorities banned the sale of sunscreens with oxybenzone and octinoxate. It increases the protection of fragile marine ecosystems. If they do not, corals will decline, and marine life disruption will begin.

Moreover, applying excessive oxybenzone and octinoxate to your skin is dangerous. Some studies claim that 97% of individuals carry these chemicals in their bodies for a long time. In some cases, it can lead to reproductive disorders.

Retinyl Palmitate

Are you aware that your skin needs vitamin A for its antioxidant properties?

Regardless of the medium, consuming or applying this nutrient is good for your skin. It can prevent aging and protect your skin against sun damage. One of the sunscreen ingredients that offers vitamin A is the retinyl palmitate.

It can treat skincare issues, including fine lines, uneven texture, and dark spots.

Despite its benefits, there are some concerns about its safety when exposed to UV rays. Experts claim that retinyl palmitate can break and create free radicals. This can increase the risk of developing skin cancer.

Although there are limits, experts recommend applying sunscreens without this ingredient. It also helps to invest in other methods of sun protection, such as UV-protective clothing.


Many types of sunscreen carry avobenzone, but it's more common in chemical sunscreen. Sunscreens with avobenzone have an EWG skin-deep rating of 1-2. This means the ingredient is a low-hazard material backed by limited studies.

Although effective in shielding your skin from UV rays, you cannot enjoy its benefits when used alone. Sunlight can reach your skin as it breaks down avobenzone.

To serve as a barrier, it needs another chemical to stabilize it. Developers often fix its limits by combining octisalate with avobenzone. However, some experts do not recommend applying sunscreen with this ingredient.

Overexposure to avobenzone can trigger skin allergies. One can experience rash, swelling, dizziness, and trouble breathing. If skin allergy symptoms persist, bring the person to the hospital.


If you have sensitive skin, it's best to avoid sunscreens with methylisothiazolinone. Methylisothiazolinone is a synthetic preservative that prevents bacteria and fungi growth. This allows the product to have a longer shelf life.

However, some people can find themselves sensitive to this ingredient. Methylisothiazolinone can trigger allergic reactions. Symptoms include watery eyes, congestion, vomiting, and anaphylaxis.

If you are showing symptoms after using sunscreen, perform a first-aid treatment. You can apply a cold compress on the affected area or take an anti-histamine medicine. To prevent this problem, check product labels before buying and using them.

Homosalate and Octocrylene

Another pair of chemicals you must watch out for are homosalate and octocrylene. These ingredients serve as filters, protecting you from harmful UV rays.

However, it's best to avoid these ingredients because of their hormone disruption tendencies. They can copy hormone effects, resulting in imbalances in the endocrine system. When this happens, different body systems fail to work.

To prevent hormone disruption, use products with alternative UV filters, such as zinc oxide.

Aside from endocrine disruption, octocrylene can cause allergic reactions. Brands often combine this with avobenzone to counterbalance UV rays. When it breaks down, octocrylene can develop into benzophenone.

Moreover, this ingredient can harm coral reefs and other aquatic life as they get washed away. With this, authorities and experts in different countries banned octocrylene use.

Titanium Dioxide

In the cosmetic industry, many brands use titanium dioxide in their products.

Titanium dioxide is a mineral ingredient that serves as a barrier on the skin. It reflects and scatters UV rays to keep you safe from sun damage. 

However, professionals identify this ingredient as carcinogenic. Instead of reducing the risks, titanium dioxide contributes to the effects of UV rays on the development of cancer cells. To avoid cancer cell stimulation, ensure your sunscreen is free of this ingredient. 


Like methylisothiazolinone, skincare brands use parabens as preservatives. It extends their shelf life and allows a person to use them for a long time. However, experts raise concerns about the application of this ingredient to the skin.

Although a few, some studies link parabens with endocrine disruption. A better alternative would be ingredients like Vitamin C or Vitamin E. Always check the label to determine if a product is "paraben-free."


Who does not want to smell good? Although wearing a scented sunscreen can make you smell and feel good, this ingredient can cause skin irritation. You can suffer from allergic reactions if you have sensitive skin.

Instead, buy fragrance-free sunscreens. You can consider hypoallergenic sun care products as well. Using the appropriate products reduces the occurrence of your allergy triggers, allowing you to enjoy a more safe sun protection experience.

Protect Your Skin: What to Avoid in Sunscreen

Choosing a sunscreen is more complex than it seems. Aside from its SPF rating, it is crucial to know what to avoid in sunscreen. Doing so ensures you are not putting your health or skin care goals at risk at risk.

If you're always out and about, consider investing in UV-protective clothing. BloqUV offers effective and fashionable UV apparel. Check out our shop!