With my fair skin, painful sunburns happen very, very easily. Aside from the standard discomfort, peeling, itching, and stinging, extended sun damage can result in sun poisoning and even worse – skin cancer. So, naturally, I do what I can to protect my skin from the sun’s rays.
But I’ve found that it’s a double-edged sword, because it turns out that slathering on the highest SPF could be just as harmful as baking protection-free. Most chemical-based sunscreens contain unsafe ingredients that are quickly absorbed through our pores and can be damaging to our bodies.
Fortunately, it’s possible to find natural sunscreens that don’t contain these ingredients, as long as you know what to look out for. So next time you’re at the drugstore stocking up on your favorite skincare products, make sure to check the labels and avoid any brand of sunscreen that contain these four toxic ingredients.
Avoid These Sunscreen Ingredients:
- Oxybenzone: This is public enemy number one in most chemical-based sunscreens. Oxybenzone actually blocks the good stuff we can get from the sun, like UVB rays that provide much-needed vitamin D, while allowing in harmful UVA rays. Not to mention the fact that when it’s absorbed into the skin it can cause the kind of cell damage that leads to skin cancer (which is what we’re all trying to prevent in the first place!).
- Parabens: You’re probably already mindful of the harmful parabens in deodorant, shampoo, and most other cosmetics, but make sure to look for them in your sunscreen too. Propylparaben, ethylparaben, mythylparaben, and butylparaben are used as preservatives to lengthen the shelf life of these products, but can end up causing allergic reactions and hormone deficiencies. Some studies even link parabens to an increased risk of breast cancer.
- Octinoxate: Not only can octinoxate impair hormone production, but it also allows other damaging chemicals, like the ones mentioned in this article, to be more easily absorbed by the body. This can lead to a host of side effects including the production of skin-damaging free radicals and premature aging.
- Retinyl palmitate: While the jury is still out on whether retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A, increases our risk of cancer when applied to skin that’s exposed to sunlight, government studies show that it can produce free radicals and tumors in mice. I don’t know about you, but that’s enough for me to stay away from it.
Luckily, there are alternatives! The Environmental Working Group is a fantastic consumer resource that reviews thousands of sunscreen products for their safety and effectiveness. We rounded up a list of our favorite mineral sunscreens that all ranked the highest. Slather them on before you head out to enjoy some fun in the sun!
Loving Naturals Clear Body Sunscreen - SPF 30. This unique formula is clear and rubs in easily. Water resistant up to 40 minutes.
Badger Lightly Scented Lavender Sunscreen - SPF 30. Works for both face and body and has a mild natural lavender scent.
The Honest Company Sunscreen – SPF 30. Safe for the whole family, including babies under 6 months. Unscented and non-greasy formula.
TruKid Sunny Days – SPF 30. Light texture rubs in smoothly and has a pleasant scent. Contains soothing aloe and cucumber extract.
Coola Suncare Total Body – SPF 30. This antioxidant-rich formula has the added benefit of promoting skin cell regeneration and improving appearance.
California Baby Sunscreen Stick – SPF 30. This easy-to-use stick glides on smoothly and smells like lemongrass. Works for the whole family.
Burnout Ocean Tested Physical Sunscreen – SPF 30. Very water resistant – great for the beach or the pool. Enriched with aloe and antioxidants.
Lavanila The Healthy Sun Screen – SPF 30. Infused with green tea, shea butter, cucumber, and vanilla for a luxurious and hydrating experience.
What’s your favorite brand of mineral-based sunscreen? Tell us in the comments section below!