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Expert Interview Series: Amanda Herzberg Of Sunology On What To Look For In Natural Sunscreen

Expert Interview Series: Amanda Herzberg Of Sunology On What To Look For In Natural Sunscreen

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We all need to wear sunscreen to protect ourselves from harmful UV rays. What happens if your sunscreen isn't good enough? Or may even be dangerous?

According to the Environmental Working Group's 2014 Guide To Safe Sunscreens, 75% of sunscreens contain toxic ingredients. What are we to do if we need to be safe from the sun - but also safe from our sunscreen?

Richard Doermer started Sunology for this very reason. Sunology is a naturalistic sunscreen company which makes products that are just as powerful as chemical brands, but much safer.

Natural sunscreenWe talked to a representative from Sunology, Amanda Herzberg, about what to look for in a natural sunscreen.

Despite wearing chemical sunscreen religiously for 26 years, Sunology's founder Richard Doermer ended up with basal cell carcinoma. What are chemical sunscreens lacking?

Richard was inspired to create a safer natural sunscreen. His diagnosis led him to realize that modern chemical sunscreen formulations are flawed in how they work, because rather than protecting the skin at the surface level, they instead encourage the absorption of the sun's damaging and harmful rays.

The chemical retinyl palmitate, found in many consumer sunscreens, has been linked to skin cancer in mice when applied in large doses. Has this chemical proven to be harmful to humans?

To our knowledge, retinyl palmitate is suspected, but not yet proven, to be harmful to humans. But the hypothesis based on what research has been done is that retinyl palmitate may encourage sun damage. While the evidence is not definitive, we've opted to steer clear of retinyl palmitate by ensuring that the only vitamin A in our products occurs naturally via the moisturizing ingredients in our formula.

What are some other chemicals found in consumer sunscreen that people should look out for?

As noted by the Environmental Working Group in their effort to conduct independent scientific research for the safety of today's consumer, red flags should go up when the ingredients Avobenzone, Oxybenzone, PABA, and/or Octinoctate are included in the list of active or inactive ingredients.

Although not harmful to health, some synthetic perfumes can cause an allergic reaction. What are some of these fragrances people should watch for?

All of our Sunology sunscreens are fragrance free; however, fragrance is commonly added to health and beauty products. It may appear in the ingredients list as "fragrance," which is often composed of some pretty scary ingredients such as petroleum, aldehydes, or benzene (a carcinogen).

Parabens - preservatives found in consumer sunscreen - have been known to cause coral reef damage. What are some of the other benefits, besides just health, of using natural sunscreen?

Many natural sunscreens are in fact safer for the environment, as they are derived from natural ingredients. Consumers should make a point to purchase sunscreens that are reef safe such as Sunology. However, natural sunscreens have also been known to be more effective by providing physical sun protection and being gentler on sensitive skin.

Are there any natural sunscreens that you're aware of that are a particularly good value?

Sunology, by the nature of its formulation, requires just a small amount of product to be effective - and effective coverage is key. It's not a water-based formula, so a little sunscreen cream goes a long way. That said, we consider Sunology to be a great value!

Are there any widely-available commercial sunscreens that are a little more holistic that people can still find in their supermarket or chain beauty supply stores?

There are sunscreen brands available that are more "holistic" in the sense that they are comprised of organic ingredients as opposed to natural. However, these products often have quite a short life span, which is why Sunology uses all natural active ingredients that sit atop the skin so they are both safe and effective without detracting from the product's integrity.

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