Healthy Sunscreens

With summer right around the corner I figured a post on “healthy sunscreens” was in order, especially since sunscreens are such a hot topic at the moment. So many sunscreens are now labelled with marketing claims like “natural” and “free from synthetic ingredients”, which only makes it harder to choose what we want to be the best sunscreen. This week I found myself looking through the sunscreen isle at the local pharmacy and picked up the first three brands to look at their ingredient lists – only to find there were none. Obviously, this doesn’t make it any easier so I decided to read up on the products, which inspired me to share this post including my “ingredient avoid list” and “Top 10 Natural Sunscreens” for this summer.

Healthy Sunscreen

{Ingredient Avoid List}

  • Oxybenzone is a chemical present in over half of all the sunscreens on the market and is one of the ingredients you definitely want to avoid when choosing a sunscreen. According to the EWG and other toxicology experts, oxybenzone is associated with hormone disruption since it, after being absorbed through the skin, acts as an estrogen. Other than that, it is also linked to accelerated cell damage that can later lead to skin cancer. Definitely a no-go in my book.
  • Retinyl Palmitate, also known as vitamin A, may appear like an innocent ingredient at first sight as it is often promoted as an anti-ageing agent. But just because it is called “vitamin A” doesn’t mean it’s nutritious for the skin. In fact, when applied to sun exposed skin it can actually increase cell damage and speed up the formation of skin lesions and tumors, making it one of the most important ingredients to look out for. And according to the EWG, all of 1 in 4 sunscreens this season contain this alarming ingredient.
  • Stay away from sunscreen sprays. Sunscreen sprays have in recent years flooded the market and though they’re a handy solution for kids that hate getting smeared in lotion, they have also been subject to much criticism and are in my opinion not worth the risk. The main problems with these sprays are the chemicals that, aside from being absorbed by the skin, are easily inhaled as the spray tends to go everywhere during application. While the exact effects of these chemicals are still unclear, some experts warn that they may cause damage to the lungs. Choosing creams and lotions are in my opinion simply a much better and safer choice. Plus you’ll be sure to not miss any spots.
  • Octinoxate is another ingredient commonly found in many sunscreens that is worth looking out for. Besides being able to mess with our brain signaling, octinoxate can also disrupt our thyroid hormones, resulting in other hormone  and endocrine imbalances too.
  • healthy sunscreensKnow the difference between UVA & UVB rays. SPF only protects against UVB rays, the rays responsible for us getting a sunburn, but does not necessarily filter out much of the UVA rays. UVA rays do not cause our skin to burn but are present in all types of weather and are known to suppress the immune system and generate free radicals that damage our skin cells and accelerate signs of aging. Go for a good quality broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVB + UVA rays.

My Top 10 Natural Sunscreens

All these sunscreens have the lowest score on the EWG’s rating system, which takes into consideration, the potential health hazards of the ingredients, the amount of UVA protection as well as how stable the product is when exposed to the sun (check out their online guide here). 
Here are my 10 favorite picks that I recommend this summer.

On the contrary, you want to avoid the following sunscreens, which are all considered among the worst offenders when it comes to hazardous ingredients and other nasties that may end up doing a lot more damage than good.

  • Banana Boat
  • Bull Frog
  • Coppertone
  • Cover Girl
  • Hawaiian Tropic
  • Paradise Gold

For more info on safe sunscreen and other SPF skincare products, check out EWGs fabulous guide.

Photo courtesy of Nutdanai Abikhomboonwaroot /

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