Before I dive into sharing my top picks for safe sunscreens, let me start by saying that all sunscreens are not created equally. In fact, a 2019 report from Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that nearly two-thirds of sunscreens don’t work and/or contain concerning ingredients that are readily absorbed by the body. In fact, a recent study found that sunscreen chemicals hit the bloodstream within a day of using them, and at levels high enough to prompt a government investigation on safety.
While there have been major improvements over the last decade, the vast majority of conventional sunscreens available for purchase still contain harmful chemicals that are aggravating our skin, disrupting our hormones and interfering with our endocrine system.
These are just some of the chemicals that you will find in most conventional sunscreens.
Of these chemicals, oxybenzone is the most concerning to me.
Because when oxybenzone gets into the bloodstream it acts like estrogen in the body. It has been linked to endometriosis in older women, and adolescent boys with high levels of oxybenzone have lower total testosterone levels and may contribute to specifically lower sperm levels as grown men.
While our skin is in fact a barrier that protects our insides from the external environment, it’s also a very large organ with a highly absorptive surface. The chemicals lurking in your sunscreen ARE getting absorbed through your skin, passing into your bloodstream and are circulating around your body. Note, the higher the SPF, the more chemicals these sunscreens contain.
In addition to the chemicals noted above there are 3 other ingredients that you should also be aware of when purchasing sunscreen:
Retinyl Palmitate: This is a form of Vitamin A intended to provide antioxidant protection, but some evidence suggests it may actually accelerate skin tumors and lesions.
Fragrance: A common cosmetic ingredient that gives your sunscreen an artificial scent. It can trigger allergic reactions, respiratory issues like asthma, headaches and hormonal disruptions.
Parabens + Phthalates: These compounds greatly impact our endocrine systems and interfere with reproduction.
With so many brands to choose from it can be very overwhelming to find a safe option for both you and your family.
There is no perfect sunscreen, but I have found some safer options that do contain less toxic ingredients. Below are my top 4 brands based on ingredient safety.
4 Natural Sunscreen Brands I love (and that work!):
Goddess Garden: This company offers a variety of sunscreen products, including ones for babies, kids, sports, lips and body. Click HERE to learn more.
Green Beaver: A Canadian brand that is free of the biggest culprits in the sunscreen industry. They offer both adult and kid options. Click HERE to learn more.
Laguna Herbals: Created by a team of herbalists who focus on using organic, effective and safe ingredients, they have a convenient mini-stick sunscreen that is super cute and can easily be tossed into your purse. Click HERE to learn more.
Calidou: If you have little ones in your life this company has A kid-friendly sunscreen that is gentle on the eyes and skin, and is fragrance-free. Another bonus is that they use recyclable packaging. Click HERE to learn more.
Brush on Block: For all my make-up wearing gals you are going to flip for this one. It’s a mineral-based powder sunscreen that you apply using a brush. How cute is that?1? It’s translucent, non-greasy and easy to apply especially if you’re wearing makeup. Another bonus is that it’s refillable! You can keep the brush and simply attach a new container to it. Brilliant!! Click HERE to learn more.
Sunscreen is only one way to protect our skin from UV damage. Make sure to also avoid peak sun hours and cover up if you’re out for long periods of time. Long-sleeve waterproof shirts are great for kids when they’re handing out by the pools, or enjoying the oceans.
It’s vital to our well-being that we soak-up as much nutrients from the sun as we can, and by investing in less-toxic sunscreens we can reap the benefits more safely.