News & Events

Nanoparticles in sunscreens

New Zealand and Australia have the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. We need to use sunblock- but recently there have been concerns over the issue of nanoparticles in sunscreens. We have discovered that one of our sunscreens contains nanoparticles of titanium dioxide. The effects of nanotechnology are unknown so there is uncertainty around the issue. We have, therefore, decided to provide as much information as we can about the nanoparticles in sunscreens debate- so you can make an informed decision on which sunscreen to use.


The facts as we know them:

New Zealand and Australia have the highest rates of melanoma in the world. Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is the most important preventable risk factor for skin cancer.

All health authorities recommend the use of a sunscreen if you are going to be exposed to sunlight.

Zinc oxide and titanium oxide can provide protection from UVR.  Only zinc oxide provides protection from long UVA rays.

Any natural sunscreen that is above SPF15 will contain a mineral – either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

And as far as we can see, everything else depends on who you believe.



Do plant sourced sunscreens provide adequate protection against skin cancer?

The other question is- plant sourced sunscreens are safe for the skin, but do they provide adequate protection against skin cancer?

Some of our sunscreens are entirely plant based. These are SPF15 or not certified under the A/NZS2604: 1998 Standard. The manufacturers argue that the difference in SPF protection is marginal – SPF 15 blocks 92% of UVB rays and SPF 30 blocks 97%.

It is more important how often they are applied and the recommendation is every 2 – 3 hours or immediately after swimming.

This may be an issue for mothers with wriggly babies! Good coverage is very important for UV protection and if sunscreen is difficult to apply, you or your child may not be sufficiently covered with sunscreen for it to be effective.

In the end the choice is yours. In the meantime there are other sensible precautions we can take.


What does Commonsense Organics recommend?

Commonsense Organics does not recommend or stock any sunscreens that contain the chemicals that we avoid in our other products.


Sensible precautions you can take to avoid sun damage

  • Keep out of the sun during the middle of the day
  • Enjoy the sun in moderation
  • Cover up with clothing, hats and sunglasses
  • Avoid getting burned and don’t try to get sun-tanned
  • Use sunscreen with SPF15 or higher
  • Keep newborn babies out the sun
  • Only use sunscreen on babies over 6 months old
  • Make sure you get enough direct sun – your body needs the vitamin D.  Life’s a paradox!


Close up image of sunscreen packaging
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