Mineral sunscreens touted as healthier, more environmentally friendly alternatives to typical sunscreens

Health Minute: Chemical sunscreen alternatives

(CNN) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has called for more safety data on some chemicals in sunscreen after researchers found they absorb into the bloodstream at alarmingly high levels.

It’s too early to tell if there are harmful effects. As researchers work to get more answers, what are consumers to do?

If you’re looking for an alternative to typical sunscreens this summer, environmental groups say look no further than mineral sunscreens – which are also big hits with estheticians, who specialize in the cosmetic treatment of skin.

"Chemical sunscreens, under active ingredients will usually have three to five ingredients at the top. They usually say things like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octinoxate,” said Tiffany Bioski, an esthetician with the Skin ReMEDI spa in Atlanta. “With mineral sunscreens, the active ingredients are generally titanium dioxide and zinc. Those are minerals that come from the earth."

The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit that puts out a yearly guide to sunscreen, calls zinc oxide the “gold standard” when it comes to protecting your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays.

"You can't see it, but when you put them on, they're like tiny mirrored scales on your skin,” Bioski said. “And the way that they work is when the UVA and UVB rays hit them, they deflect, so there's no radiating, there's no sheath over the top.”

And as a bonus, it’s also delicate on your skin.

But don’t just rely on sunscreens to avoid a dangerous burn. The best way to protect yourself when out in the sun is to keep covered and stay in the shade.

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