Nanotechnology and Sunscreens

A Consumer Guide for Avoiding Nano-Sunscreens

Download the reportSun worshippers beware. While using sunscreen to block dangerous UV rays, you may be exposing yourself to a new danger.  Sunscreen manufacturers are adding nanoparticles to sunscreens to make sun-blocking ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide rub on clear instead of white. These nanoparticles are being added without appropriate labeling or reliable safety information—and they pose potential threats to human health.

Friends of the Earth asked more than 120 sunscreen manufacturers to describe their companies’ policies regarding nanotechnology and whether their products contain nanoparticles, but the vast majority of manufacturers refused.  This underscores the challenge that consumers face when trying to determine if their sunscreens are safe, which is why FDA regulation and labeling requirements are urgently needed.

In the meantime, Friends of the Earth has compiled a guide to alert consumers to the risks that may come from sunscreens with nanoparticles and a list of nine sunscreen brands that are nano free.  To learn more about nanomaterials in sunscreens, and how to limit your risk of exposure, visit our guide.


Here is the full text of the report with more information about the damage nanoparticles could cause. For more information on the findings of the report, please contact Health and Environment Campaigner Ian Illuminato at or 202-783-7400. 

You can also listen to an audio recording of Illuminato and Friends of the Earth President Brent Blackwelder discussing the consumer guide.  Blackwelder speaks first, Illuminato second.

We asked 128 cosmetics companies whether they were using nanotechnology, which is largely untested and may pose real dangers to human health, in making their skin products. See a copy of the letter we sent them, and our follow-up letters here and here.

These are the only nine who now confirmed that they have kept nanoparticles out of their products and their customers out of harm:

And please remember to sign Friends of the Earth's petition calling on the Food and Drug Administration to introduce sensible rules for testing nanotechnology in order to protect consumers, workers, and the environment.