In September 2012, Friends of the Earth selected several Australia sunscreens which we hoped were free from untested and unsafe nano-ingredients. We submitted these sunscreens for testing by the Government's National Measurement Institute, with the hope of being able to offer some non-nano sunscreen options to stay sun-safe, while avoiding participating in the nano-experiment. Sadly, all the tested sunscreen products were found to contain a high proportion of nanoparticles. Therefore, we are in the difficult situation of not being able to recommend any non-nano sunscreen products at the moment.
This is not to say we believe all zinc oxide or titanium dioxide based sunscreens are using nano-ingredients.
Unfortunately many sunscreen products that don’t use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide instead rely on endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as 4-methylbenzylidene camphor and octyl methoxycinnamate which we would not recommend using either.
Be Sun Smart
Given the uncertainty over what to slop on your skin, we strongly advise people to closely follow the SunSmart guidelines:
- Slip on sun-protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible
- Slop on SPF30+ sunscreen – make sure it is broad spectrum and water resistant.
- Slap on a hat that protects your face, head, neck and ears
- Seek shade
- Slide on sunglasses – make sure they meet Australian Standards.
Who's Regulating the Regulators?
For the last 5 years, Friends of the Earth surveyed sunscreen brands to determine whether or not they use nano-ingredients. However, following the revelations in July that certain sunscreen manufacturers were making misleading claims about certain sunscreen ingredients we feel we can no longer trust the sunscreen and cosmetic industry to either:
- know what's in the ingredients they are using, or
- be honest with the information they have about these ingredients.
Friends of the Earth will continue to research potential options and are hopeful that we will have some brands that we can recommend in the near future.