Tips for Choosing a Healthy Sunscreen

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a commission if you purchase a product we recommend. Clicking on these links won't cost you anything, but they help us to stay running so we can make Healthiest - The Amazon Helper even better and ad free.

With Spring in the air, now is a great time to stock up on the best natural sunscreen. However, the options can be completely overwhelming!  Not to mention, it is hard to find a lotion that feels good on your skin and is also safe and effective.  

The truth is that not all sunscreens are created equal. In fact, some sunscreens do more harm than good. The active ingredient in sunscreen is either a physical block, a chemical block, or a combination of both. Many sunscreens contain a chemical block which should be avoided.  When reading labels two chemicals, in particular, to avoid are:

  • Oxybenzone: Its main function in sunscreen is to absorb ultraviolet light providing broad-spectrum coverage of UVB and UVA rays. It is also found in hair sprays, cosmetics, and nail polishes to protect the product from sunlight damage. Manufacturers also use the chemical in plastics as an ultraviolet light absorber and stabilizer. It sounds effective.  However, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and other organizations have concerns about oxybenzone because it is linked to hormone disruptions and skin allergies. Additionally, two European studies have detected oxybenzone in breast milk - which could be harmful to newborns.
  • Retinyl palmitate: This is a form of vitamin A and is used in sunscreens and other skin care products because of its antioxidant properties and anti-aging benefits. However, government-funded studies have found that retinyl palmitate may increase the risk of skin cancer when used on skin that is exposed to the sun. The EWG states that while the evidence is not definitive it is troubling.

The bottom line and the good news is that you can avoid these chemicals and still find great sun protection!  So, what should you look for in a natural sunscreen? Healthiest recommends products with non-nano zinc oxide as the active ingredient like these for the face and body from Suntegrity, Badger and Goddess Garden. They provide protection from UVA and UVB rays while also moisturizing and hydrating the skin. Zinc oxide is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and is a safer alternative to oxybenzone.

Make the switch to healthier, safer products by downloading and using the Healthiest Chrome Extension. Want more information about what ingredients to avoid in your products? Check out Healthiest’s No Thanks List and the EWG’s list of the Worst Sunscreens For Kids including the following well known brands:

  1. Banana Boat Kids Max Protect & Play Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100
  2. Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
  3. Coppertone Sunscreen Continuous Spray, Kids, SPF 70
  4. Coppertone Foaming Lotion Sunscreen Kids Wacky Foam, SPF 70+ 
  5. Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70+
  6. Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray, SPF 70+
  7. Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 70+

Our skin is affected by many factors including the products we consume and use, the food we eat and our environment.   In fact, making choices about the products we buy are some of the only choices within our long as we have the right information to make good decisions.  So this Spring Break and on into the summer - here's to fun, sun and happy skin!