February 15, 2024

Ask Our Experts: 5 Ingredients To Avoid In Sunscreen Products


Did you know that next to climate change, pollution, and overfishing, SPF products are one of the largest threats to coral reefs and marine life? Popular travel destinations such as Hawai’i and the U.S. Virgin Islands have legally banned some harmful ingredients commonly found in sunscreen products. To that end, as a manufacturer with a robust history of formulating five-star-rated skincare products, brands and businesses that work with Allure Labs know there is no better source to turn to to guide them to success in today’s booming market. In this blog, we ask the lead experts from our R&B lab to reveal the five most harmful ingredients to avoid in sunscreen product formulations and why.

Ingredients to avoid in sunscreen products:


Octinoxate has been banned from at least seven popular travel destinations for its considerable environmental hazard rating. In addition to polluting coral reefs and other marine life, this ingredient also presents health concerns to consumers. Octinoxate is shown to disrupt the endocrinal function, increasing cell production in response to excessive estrogen levels. The long-term effects of prolonged exposure to octinoxate present serious health risks, such as the development and progression of breast cancer.

Nano Zinc

Nano zinc contains nanoparticles, which are found in aerosol products and loose powders. Unfortunately, aerosol sprays and loose powders are often preferred product formats for SPF due to their convenience and ease of application. Although they create a smooth experience for the user, studies have shown that nanoparticles have toxic, inflammatory effects on the lungs. As a general rule, if your brand aligns with the clean beauty, reef-safe, or sustainable product trends, avoid offering any aerosol sprays or loose powders in your skincare lines.

What’s more, these nanoparticles also absorb into algal cells, contributing to increasing rates of coral bleaching. Under these circumstances, the ions in nanoparticles have been labeled lethal to aquatic organisms. This means when an SPF product containing nano zinc enters the ocean (via swimming or through pipe drains), the ingredients it contains add to the top cause of plant toxicity, reducing the rate at which algae can grow and creating unnecessary oxidative stress.


Octocrylene is an organic ultraviolet filter that absorbs sun rays to protect the skin from sun damage. However, don’t let its “organic” label fool you- we know by now that organic doesn’t always translate to “good”. Although it’s derived from the earth, prolonged exposure to this ingredient has a similar effect on the endocrine system as nano zinc, disturbing hormone homeostasis. In the case of octocrylene, disrupting a normal endocrinal function presents an array of health risks, particularly for young children and pregnant women. Not to mention, its contribution to coral bleaching has led to popular travel destinations banning the ingredient from being used at their beaches. 


Years of research suggest parabens are one of the worst ingredients you can find in cosmetic, personal care, and skincare products. Aside from contributing to common skin concerns, allergies, and other dermal sensitivities, evidence has shown parabens also promote cancer formation, infertility, unintentional weight gain, early puberty, and irregular periods. Historically, parabens have been a popular preservative agent in almost all beauty and personal care products that effectively prevent the growth of mold and other harmful bacteria. Even though they are one of the most effective chemical preservatives, there are a variety of alternatives that don’t propose the same consequential health risk factors.

Microcrystalline beads 

Microbeads have gained popularity in skincare products in recent years as physical exfoliants have become more and more trendy. However, because they are made of plastic, these beads don’t break down easily, making them non-biodegradable. When washed down sink drains and into the outdoor environment, they cause detrimental effects not only on marine life but sewer functions and human health as well. 


Consumers are increasingly willing to invest in products that not only have positive effects on their health but also minimize harmful effects on their surrounding environment. Brands and products that are not aligned with the clean beauty movement, sustainable sourcing for packaging and ingredients, and reef-safe formulations are unlikely to build long-term trust or garner the loyalty of any category of consumers. With Spring and Summer just around the corner, SPF product requests are the rising trend among manufacturers across the globe. Let’s do yours right, and position your business for exponential growth this year.

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