For years, the conventional wisdom was that you should always slather on sunscreen before heading outdoors in the summer. However, growing awareness of toxic chemicals and hidden dangers in items we previously took for granted has made a lot of people question whether sunscreen is really as safe as the manufacturers claim. Whether you're doing your research before a big beach vacation or just worrying about everyday wear, it's important to stay safe, both from sun damage and potential sunscreen damage.


1. Sunscreen Basics

There are two main types of sunscreen. Physical blockers or non-chemical sunscreens work by simply reflecting the sun's rays. These always contain either zinc oxide or titanium oxide and often have a thick, heavy white color to them that doesn't absorb easily into the skin. On the other hand, chemical blockers absorb the sun's rays to keep them from penetrating your skin. Many different ingredients can go into these, including avobenzone, oxybenzone, octisalate, and others.

Bottle of sunscreen on beach georgeclerk / Getty Images

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