Frieda Y Lin - TruAura - HeadshotFrieda Y. Lin

Frieda Y. Lin is an independent consultant with TruAura, a pre- and probiotic-based, microbiome-friendly skincare company. Contact her at or call 561-578-7109. For more information, visit or call 561-578-7109.

Physical sunscreen or chemical sunscreen – which one is safe?

Physical sunscreen that contains titanium dioxide or zinc oxide as the active SPF ingredients is what you want to look for. These sunscreens sits on your skin, reflecting the light, and does not absorb into your bloodstream.

You want to avoid chemical sunscreen ingredients as they are absorbed very quickly by the skin and accumulate in the fatty tissues of the body and are linked to cellular damage, low birth weight, allergies, and hormone disruption. They are listed as PABA, oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, benzophenone, and octyl methoxycinnamate (octinoxate).

Generally speaking, if something doesn’t explicitly say that it is a mineral or physical blocker (containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as the active SPF ingredients) and claims to have SPF, it is a chemical sunscreen.

What have you heard about phthalates?

They are known hormone disrupters and suspected carcinogens. They can interfere with fertility and have been linked to low sperm count. They are used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break, and are commonly used in a wide range of cosmetic and food products. The European Union has banned certain phthalates.

Why is “fragrance” not a safe ingredient?

Because fragrance is considered a “trade secret” and companies don’t have to list the ingredients that it contains. It is often a hidden source of chemicals like phthalates. It can hide up to 100 different chemicals. Some fragrance ingredients are known neurotoxins, and many can irritate skin. Some also make asthma worse.

Why is silicones an ingredient to avoid?

Silicones occlude the skin and congests the microbiome. It can dry the skin with continued use and create a dependency, as it can disrupts the skin’s natural hydrating process. Silicones are also shown to exacerbate acne, trapping bacteria and oil on the skin. They are also non-biodegradable.

Why are people are looking for paraben-free cosmetics?

Parabens are preservatives used to prevent the growth of microbes. The problem with the parabens is that they mimic estrogen in the body. This has been linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues, including early onset of puberty and reduced sperm count. It also appears that parabens can be stored in the body, resulting in a cumulative effect that can damage health over time. They are found in about 75 to 95 percent of all cosmetic products.

Retinols are found in many acne and anti-aging products. Is it true that they are perfectly safe?

FALSE. Retinol can be harmful to your health when it’s added to cosmetic products in certain forms. Two derivatives—retinoic acid and retinyl palmitate—should be avoided. According to a 2011 report, in the presence of sunlight, retinyl palmitate enhances skin cancer lesions by 21 percent. It has been linked to cancer and other types of reproductive toxicity. It is also a known skin irritant, presenting a high rate of allergic response and topical irritation. Retinol itself should not be used at high doses.