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Are you ready for the summer?! Beach trips and berry-picking adventures are filling our sunny weekends. Which means we are spending a lot more time in the sunshine and it’s time to up our sunscreen game. In preparation for family outdoor adventures, we’ve searched and tested dozens of non-toxic sunscreens and today I’m sharing my list of the best non-toxic sunscreens. Not all sunscreens are created equal, so we’re sharing some good tips to keep in mind as you choose your best sunscreen!
Physical, not chemical sunscreens. There’s a distinct difference between chemical-based sunscreens made with oxybenzone, octinoxate or avobenzone (what we typically find in stores) and physical-based sunscreens which are made with a zinc oxide or titanium dioxide based SPF. Chemical sunscreens come with health risks such as skin irritation, increased skin permeability, allergies, and endocrine disruption.
Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing into the skin and they absorb the sun’s rays. Physical based sunscreens sit on top of this skin and reflect the sun’s rays. This crucial difference means it will take longer for chemical sunscreens to take effect. For example it may take upwards of 30 minutes for a chemical SPF to sink in and start protecting against the sun’s rays. Because physical sunscreens sit on top of the skin, they work right away. Physical sunscreens are also gentler on sensitive skin!
SPF 50 is enough. As a super freckly-fair skinned lady, I used to find myself drawn to the SPF 5000+. But not only is it far more expensive, sunscreens above SPF 50 are marginally more effective. This can lead to a false sense of security and improper sunscreen use. “I have on SPF 75, so I shouldn’t have to reapply as often, right?” Wrong!
Protect the planet. We put on sunscreen for our outdoor adventures to the beach or a sunny hike. But did you know common ingredients in sunscreen can be incredibly harmful for our planet? Protect the planet by avoiding oxybenzone, octinoxate, and mineral oil. Oxybenzone and octinoxate are believed to contribute to coral bleaching and coral reef die off. Hawaii has actually banned these ingredients, effective 2021. Mineral oil is a petroluem based oil that takes years to bidegrade and is fatal to sea life.
Be smart. Apply sunscreen before you head out for a day at the beach, take breaks in the shade and reapply sunscreen often! Use protective clothing, big umbrellas and sunglasses to protect your skin!
It depends! Lotion provides the most even and reliable coverage. But zinc can settle in liquid sunscreens, so shaking the bottle before application is really important. Spray sunscreens are convenient to apply, but you may lose a lot of the product in the application. And unless the product is using a non-aerosol propellant, there are likely to be toxic ingredients! Most spray sunscreens use a combination of butane, propane and isobutan to propel the product out. Stick sunscreens are awesome for face and stabilize the zinc, so no shaking required. But the little sticks are probably not ideal for applying to a whole human bod.
Each of these sunscreens:
This sunscreen, while a bit runny, rubs in well with minimal white cast. It is widely available and can be found at Target, Whole Foods, Fred Meyer and Amazon. $
Badger is tried and true baby sunscreen and is widely available. It’s moisturizing and gentle enough for sensitive baby skin. Unfortunately, it does leave a significant white cast and can be tough to rub in. But with an EWG rating of 1, I don’t mind in my babe has a little ghostly glow.
This widely available and budget friendly and non-toxic sunscreen stick breaks the mold by actually rubbing in pretty darn well. It does leave a subtle white cast on my freckly skin, but it’s not overwhelming and for under $10 I’m a happy camper.
This non-nano zinc-oxide based sunscreen is reef friendly, diligently tested, and perfect for sensitive skin. It rubs in very easily, with no white cast. Downfall is that you can’t walk into a Target and pick some up. It’s only available online or at the Denver and NYC storefronts.
This non-aerosol sunscreen mist is perfect to throw in your carry-on or checked bag. It’s reef safe, perfect for very sensitive skin, and blends in very well. If you’re checking a bag, check out the Tinted Countersun Mist (6oz, $39) perfect for deeper skin tones or if you want a subtle bronze added to your skin. Downside, you have to plan ahead. This sunscreen is only available online for $20 on Beautycounter.com OR if you live in Denver or NYC, you can check out the Beautycounter stores.
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