Sunblock Buster

Can a popular sunscreen ingredient make sunburns even worse?

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


SUNSCREEN IS SUPPOSED TO prevent sunburns—but research shows it might also cover them up. It all started with a scorched guinea pig. Eugene Pittz, a chemist in New Jersey was formulating sunscreens for the cosmetics company Warner-Lambert (now a part of Pfizer) in the early ’80s when he accidentally gave one of his laboratory animals too much ultraviolet radiation. He applied sunscreen to the burn, and to his surprise, the rodent’s redness faded. He ran a few more experiments (including one on himself) and confirmed that the now ubiquitous UVA blocker oxybenzone had anti-inflammatory properties. Pittz patented his findings, but sunscreen makers haven’t been in a rush to publicize them. Understandably so: If your sunscreen makes your sunburn look less severe, you’re likely to spend more time in the sun without realizing you’re slowly roasting.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate