This post is an update and partial re-write of my original nontoxic sunscreen post in 2015. I’m happy to see that there have been some improvements in the world of sun protection in the past two years but there is still a lot of work to be done.
One of the questions I am asked the most, from friends and family and fellow mamas too, is what mineral sunscreen I use. I’m so glad people are asking and becoming aware of the dangers of conventional drugstore chemical sunscreens. The answer isn’t always a quick one though, as I’m constantly trying new brands and on any given beach day, I may have three different kinds in my bag. More on that in a minute…
I refuse – and this is something I will not budge on – to use chemical sunscreen. It’s not an option, no matter the convenience or situation. This is one of my hot-button issues and is one of the first changes I made when switching all my products to safe, non-toxic versions. There is a TON of research on the topic that you can easily find to learn more. A great resource is the Environmental Working Group (EWG), who earlier this summer released their 2017 Sunscreen Guide. They report that “almost three-fourths of the products we examined offer inferior sun protection or contain worrisome ingredients like oxybenzone, a hormone disruptor, or retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A that may harm skin.”
Non toxic mineral sunscreen is the only option for our family. It’s a physical blocker as opposed to a chemical one and keeps the harmful rays from entering the body (whereas chemical sunscreens invite the rays in to deal with them at a cellular level).
Be careful when you’re buying a mineral sunscreen though because labels can be misleading. They can be mineral-based but still have less than great ingredients. Here are a couple quick shortcut tricks I use when buying a safe sunscreen:
- NO Oxybenzone (Oxybenzone penetrates the skin, gets into the bloodstream and acts like estrogen in the body. It can trigger allergic skin reactions and has been linked to cancer and other disorders in some studies. It is said to stay in your body for at least 5 days) – or really any other of those big chemical-sounding words you can’t pronounce, like octinoxate, octisalate, isobutane, etc.
- YES Mineral (mineral sunscreens physically BLOCK the UV light, whereas chemical sunscreens allow the UV rays to penetrate the skin and can release free radicals when they break down. Mineral sunscreens contain zinc and/or titanium dioxide)
- NO SPF’s over 50 (SPF is an outdated term that refers only to protection against UVB rays that burn the skin. It has little to do with a product’s ability to protect skin from UVA rays, which penetrate deep into the body, accelerate skin aging, may suppress the immune system and may cause skin cancer)
- YES Broad Spectrum (A sunscreen can only claim this if it protects from both UVB and the more harmful UVA rays. Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide both provide broad spectrum protection)
- Other obvious YES’s: Organic, Cruetly Free, Unscented, Vegan, Eco Safe, Paraben-Free
The white factor
It’s the worst, I’ll be the first to admit it. No one wants to be covered in a white (or sometimes purple-y) film. And I don’t know about your kids, but mine won’t stay still long enough for me to really rub it in. This is why none of my mineral sunscreen selections have a high “white factor.”
Here are my favorites and how I use them:
Suntegrity – Our most used daily go-to sunscreen. I put it on the girls’ faces on preschool days and use it all over any time we’re going to be outside for a long period of time. Not white and rubs in easily. Smells citursy too! $$ (Find at Amazon, Organic Bunny, The Detox Market)
Josh Rosebrook – One of my two daily face SPF moisturizers. It’s not cheap but I LOVE the way it goes on. Not greasy, not thick, just perfect. It’s thinner than the W3LL people so I’ll use it on the days I need a little more moisture. Extremely trustworthy brand. $$$ (Find at Amazon, The Detox Market)
Raw Elements – one of the cleanest sunscreens around. I have the regular tube non-tinted kind but I do find it quite thick. I like this tinted one because it feels thinner and has a nice sheen that I will use on my chest and upper arms (it would use too much of the tin and would take forever to use it anywhere else). Would be good on my face too if I didn’t have the other two I love. $ (Find at Amazon)
Babo – I know sprays are not ideal for the inhalation-factor so when I apply this on the girls or us, it’s first sprayed into my hands and rubbed on. Defeats the purpose of a spray maybe but it’s still somewhat faster and easier than a lotion when we’re on the go. $ (Find at Amazon)
W3LL PEOPLE – I love when a face moisturizer (and SPF for that matter) also has coverage. Most days I just use this and some under eye concealer and I’m good to go. A little goes a long way. I wear the medium shade. (I also wear the medium concealer in this brand as well). $$ (Find at Amazon, The Detox Market)
100% Pure – another great spray for on the go. It is easy to blend with not much white residue left behind. It has a nice smell too! $$ (Find at Organic Bunny, or at 100% Pure stores)
Don’t forget to keep your lips protected! Here Ellie is applying our favorite organic mineral chapstick, Hurraw SPF 15:
What are some of your favorite non toxic mineral sunscreens?