What You Need To Know About Base Tans And Popular Sunscreen Ingredients That Are Actually Bad For You.

Heliades UPF Sun Protective Clothing, Gloves, Neck Wraps in stylish colors and prints with street appeal_Hands held outstretched to the sun with blue sky and clouds.

Dear Friends and Family,

I recently read an article about DIY sunscreens and sunscreen myths trending on Instagram and TikTok due in part to the popularity of wellness influencers. The contents were sensational enough to get my attention, and I wanted to take a moment to share a few data points I'd really like you to know.

Because this is happening on social media it's reaching a wide demographic, and one of my concerns is that young adults are getting incorrect info about how to take care of their skin and stay healthy.

Social media posts about coconut oil as an effective sunscreen, or that sunscreen is bad for you and should be avoided entirely, or the use of base tans as a form of protecting skin are all myths and are leading many folks away from the path of prevention.

You can read Glossy's article for all the sensational details (you'll see the link below) and now here's what I'd really like you to know:

Oxybenzone (chemical sunscreen ingredient used as a UV filter)

  • Know that research indicates oxybenzone is a potential hormone disruptor. (For this reason alone I would not use this on my kids.)
  • In Europe sunscreens may contain up to 2.2% of oxybenzone whereas the USA allows up to 6% oxybenzone in sunscreen formulas.
  • Oxybenzone at any percentage is readily absorbed in the body.

Takeaway: While we're waiting for the FDA to gather more safety data, it's easy to avoid the ingredient oxybenzone - just select a mineral/physical sunscreen with zinc and/or titanium dioxide. These create a physical barrier on top of your skin rather than a chemical reaction to absorb UV.

Benzene (a by-product of manufacturing aerosol sprays)

  • The CDC has identified benzene as a carcinogen.
  • Benzene contamination can occur in any aerosol products not just aerosol sunscreen.
  • Recently these brands have recalled their sunscreen products due to benzene contamination: Banana Boat, Coppertone, Neutrogena and Aveeno.

Takeaway: There are plenty of safe sunscreens out there formulated with minerals zinc and/or titanium dioxide. So avoid aerosol spray sunscreen in order to eliminate the possibility of benzene contamination. You'll have to get over the ease of using a can, but let's face it - reapplying all forms of sunscreen (even sprays) is messy.

Chemical sunscreens (containing ingredients Avobenzone, Octocrylene, Homosalate, Octisalate and/or Octinoxate, and of course Oxybenzone)

  • Avoid chemical sunscreens because there’s not enough data about safe ingredient levels.
  • If Hawaii is in your future, know that chemical sunscreens have been banned because Oxybenzone, Avobenzone, Octocrylene, Homosalate, Octisalate and Octinoxate all have a detrimental impact on the environment.
  • In fact, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine have called on the EPA to conduct an ecological risk assessment to better understand the impact and share the results with the FDA.
  • Found in the world's waterways, this also has a direct link to the food we eat.
  • Although the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2022 stated, “To date, no levels of toxic effects have been found in humans that outweigh the benefits of these filters in reducing overexposure to UV rays", the same report also states there are data gaps in the research and further safety studies should be conducted.

Takeaway: Safe amounts of chemical ingredients in sunscreen have not been determined -- and it's gonna be a while until we consumers do know. We already know the impact this is having on coral reefs, so while we wait for the EPA and the FDA it makes good sense to avoid using these ingredients especially when there are safer formulations available.

Base tans (the idea that a little bit of tan provides skin protection)

  • While a UV exposure increases the production of melanin in your skin in order to protect it, the U.S. Surgeon General has stated a “base tan” only has a sun protection factor of 3 or less. Meaning, an SPF of 3 doesn't give you a sun protection advantage.

Takeaway: Base tans do not provide sun protection and are not an effective means for keeping skin healthy. If you think this doesn't apply to you, check out these statistics for 15-19 and 25-29 year olds below.

Heliades UPF Sun Protective Clothing_Woman with sun in her face wearing colorful headband and red lipstick

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, melanoma is the second most common type of cancer diagnosed in 15-19 year olds, and the most common form of cancer affecting young adults between the ages of 25 and 29.

Please make sure the young adults in your lives are aware of best practices for taking care of their skin and keeping themselves healthy.

So many of these cases could be avoided by moderating sun exposure.

While there are wonderful benefits of being outside in the beautiful sunshine, the idea of moderating my sun exposure and avoiding chemicals is the primary inspiration for creating Heliades 🌻 

We use permanent sun protective fabric tested for harmful chemicals and certified safe for prolonged contact on your skin - so you can free your mind and go get fresh air. 

See our safe UPF 50+ sun protective clothing collection here.

Be well and talk soon,


P.S. Here's more about our clean UPF clothing values, and don't forget to

READ on Glossy "How sunscreen became a hot-button topic on TikTok and Instagram"



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About our founder

I started Heliades with the intent to combine fashion with function by designing sun protective apparel with an elevated look that doesn't scream beach, resort or activewear. My goal is to create stylish options to protect our skin every day, for every occasion.

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