Negative Effects of Over-the-Counter Sunscreens

Sunscreen provides essential protection against skin cancer, and you should use it whenever you spend time out in the sun. However, if you’re purchasing sunscreen over the counter, it could contain potentially harmful ingredients. 

Here, we’ll review active ingredients commonly found in over-the-counter sunscreens and the negative effects that they may cause. To avoid harmful effects from your sunscreen, talk to your doctor about getting a prescription for it. You’ll be able to trust your doctor-prescribed sunscreen formulation to be safe and effective. 


Oxybenzone is a chemical that’s used in many over-the-counter sunscreens. Unfortunately, oxybenzone has been seeping into the planet’s oceans, which is detrimental to corals. But in addition to its negative impact on ocean life, oxybenzone is allergenic, meaning that it can cause skin reactions. Additionally, oxybenzone is considered a potential hormone disruptor. It may have negative effects on the endocrine system, interfering with growth and development, reproduction, sexual function, thyroid function, and metabolism. 

One of the concerning characteristics of the chemical oxybenzone is its rate of absorption. Oxybenzone has been found in blood, breast milk, amniotic fluid, and urine. Children may absorb oxybenzone at a higher rate than adults, meaning that children are at a higher risk of adverse effects from this chemical ingredient. 


Avobenzone is another chemical that’s used as an active ingredient in many over-the-counter sunscreens. It breaks down under prolonged sun exposure, releasing free radicals into the body as it deteriorates. Given that free radicals are linked to premature aging and an increased risk of disease, avobenzone may be harmful to your health when applied to the body. Since avobenzone breaks down quickly, it’s commonly paired with chemical stabilizers in sunscreens, such as octocrylene. 


Octocrylene is often used as a stabilizer in sunscreens with avobenzone. This chemical can absorb into the skin’s deepest layers, creating the risk of interactions with other chemicals. Additionally, in the deep layers of the skin, octocrylene can form oxygen radicals. Oxygen radicals may cause cell death and may even be linked to cardiovascular disease. 

Before and After Sun

For an alternative to traditional sunscreen, consider CellQuest’s Before and After Sun product. This product allows the body to reap the benefits of vitamin D3 from UV light without the sunburn associated with prolonged sun exposure. With an SPF of just 1.6, Before and After Sun allows UV rays to enter the body but provides a defense against burns, making it an excellent option for vitamin D3 supplementation. 

When it comes to your health, take no chances. Check the ingredients carefully for potentially harmful chemicals whenever you’re shopping for sunscreen and consult your doctor for a safer option.