Sunscreen – Don’t Be Fooled By Branding

Mother applying sunscreen on toddler and being vigilant about avoiding synthetic chemical ingredients in sunscreen products.

There are some sunscreen ingredients I will not put on my body.

And just when you think you’ve found the perfect sunscreen, you discover you bought a false image.

I’d love to share my story with you so that it doesn’t happen to you.


I’ve been a naturopath for decades, and many of my clients are immune compromised, seeking to heal chronic illnesses.

I’m very protective of my clients, which is why I will only recommend safe products, particularly things we use daily on our bodies.

When we don’t look at the ingredients in the cosmetics we buy, we can unknowingly expose ourselves to toxic synthetic chemicals.

Knowing the consequences when we don’t protect our health, I want to share my story about how easy it is to be manipulated by clever marketing.

Image of components of branding so people can see through clever marketing and avoid synthetic chemicals in sunscreens.


Branding is all the things a company uses to sell their products, from the logo and packaging to the images and information on their websites. Even the use of celebrity influencers becomes part of a brand.

I own Rener Health Clinics and this is how our team was misled by branding.

We wanted to bring in a safe sunscreen for my clients, a product they could trust was not going to undermine their health conditions.

We were recommended a sunscreen that was supposed to be very effective and what we were looking for.

Our mistake was that we didn’t look deeper into the ingredients in the products.

We didn’t look beyond appearances.

The brand we bought is a work of art. Their website is beautiful and full of nature images, gorgeous photography, and trust-invoking words.

Their infographic chart and list of what is in their products were all natural ingredients. Their content spoke about the importance of protecting and nourishing your skin, and ingredient transparency.

We were sold on what we saw and ordered the range because of how they showcased their products.

It wasn’t until we started to write about the ingredients to share with our clients that we realised these sunscreens were not what we thought they were.

You see, you had to look into their blogs and product packaging to realise the active ingredients are synthetic chemicals known to harm health.

We had already paid for the products, they were on their way to us, and there was no way we would sell these sunscreens to anyone, let alone someone with health issues.


Yes, it was our fault, our mistake. We didn’t do our homework thoroughly.

But still, we wrote to this company and explained that we are a health clinic and cannot sell their products.

We included links to published (peer-reviewed) studies regarding the ingredients that stopped us from stocking their brand. And we asked if we could return the products.

We received a rather obscure reply meant to “alleviate our concerns”.

We were warned about false information (googling?) on the internet and the importance of following the science of regulatory bodies. The products we wanted to return were compliant with Australian therapeutic regulations for manufacturers, and we should trust the regulators.

Well, that was a big no from us!

Regulations are constantly changing as new scientific evidence emerges. There are many chemicals now banned in products that were initially approved for use.

We’d also questioned the issue of transparency and asked why the active ingredients (the synthetic chemicals) weren’t listed in their ingredient glossary or infographics.

We were told they are not legally required to list the active ingredients – they are on the product packaging.


We asked to return a range of chemical sunscreens.

The answer was initially no.

Our story could have ended with an expensive trip to the rubbish dump, poorer financially but wiser.

But we went back to renegotiate and finally, both parties agreed to disagree. We could return what we had bought.

And we’re very thankful.

Diagram of magnifying glass over cosmetic label to emphasise the importance of researching ingredients and avoiding synthetic chemicals.


We all make mistakes in life. We learn from them. And we move on.

Sometimes we can even create something good from the lessons we learn.

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade – as the saying goes.

I decided my lemonade was to share our story and highlight the influence of branding, and what happens when we don’t look beyond appearances.

I’m very dedicated to helping people learn how to protect and nourish their health.

An essential part of guarding your health is knowing what to put in and on your body.

Please read our blog Are Your Cosmetics Harming You? We include links to databases so you can research the products you use and make an informed decision.

I also want to give you a list of ingredients to look for in sunscreens, so you know which synthetic chemicals to avoid.

I hope our lesson helps you.


4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor European researchers cite concerns over thyroid toxicity, hormone disruption, and recommend this chemical not be used in sunscreen.

Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane (Avobenzone) • May cause allergic reactions, disrupt the endocrine system, and has been shown to block the effects of testosterone in cellular studies.

Ethylhexyl Triazone • May cause skin rash or dermatitis for those with sensitive skin.

Homosalate  Acts as an endocrine disruptor and may also enhance the absorption of pesticides in the body.

Octinoxate (ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate) Has been found to mimic oestrogen and block thyroid functions; can also cause allergic reactions.

Octisalate (Ethylhexyl Salicylate) Affects the endocrine system, weakly binding to the oestrogen receptor; has also been linked to allergic contact dermatitis.

Octocrylene Breaks down into benzophenone, which is a mutagen (causes mutations in our DNA), a  carcinogen (cancer-causing), and an endocrine disruptor (interferes with gland function and reproduction). DNA changes caused by mutagens may harm cells and cause certain diseases, such as cancer.

Oxybenzone Behaves like an endocrine disruptor and potentially of greater harm to children; may increase the risk of breast cancer and endometriosis.

When you investigate cosmetic ingredients, you realise it pays to choose wisely what you put on your body.

Prevention is always the best cure!

Wishing you the best of health,

Lisa Rieniets ND.

PS* We did find two natural sunscreens. Visit our Safer Sunscreens blog for the reasons why we chose them.