Safe Sunscreen Guide - Face + Body

Staying safe in the sun is key, but to really protect your skin from sun damage, aging, and skin cancer, you have to know how to shop. Chemical sunscreens create a chemical reaction on the skin - they absorb UV rays into the skin and then release them as infrared rays - whereas mineral sunscreens block and deflect UV rays. When your skin absorbs chemical sunscreens, your body is absorbing those highly toxic ingredients, which have been linked to hormone disruption, skin allergies, and cancer. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are mineral sunscreens, or physical blockers, that are safe for humans and the environment. And while the zinc sunscreens of the past were impossible to rub in and left us looking ghostly white, that's no longer the case with new brands and better formulations popping up every day. Below, a simple shopping guide to keep you safe and sunkissed. Happy sunbathing!

Sunscreen Shopping Tutorial

Diana Ross by Leroy Patton, 1970

Diana Ross by Leroy Patton, 1970

  1. Avoid chemical sunscreens: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. They will be listed on an ingredient label under "active ingredients."
  2. Choose mineral sunscreens: non-nano zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Look for these in the "active ingredients" list.
  3. Avoid anything with the word "fragrance" or "parfum" on an ingredient label, unless it says it's comprised only of essential oils. This is an all-encompassing term protected under trade secret laws that can contain hundreds to thousands of toxic ingredients. Unscented does not necessarily mean free of chemical fragrance, so beware. 
  4. Avoid methylisothiazolinone, a chemical preservative found in most sunscreens and a skin sensitizer and allergen. Look for it on the "inactive ingredients" list.
  5. Choose lotions and sticks over sprays. While easy to apply, aerosol sprays are easily inhaled and dangerous to us and the environment. A few mineral sunscreen brands now make sprays with air-powered pumps, which is much safer.

Favorite Tinted Face Sunscreens

  1. Suntegrity 5-in-1 Tinted Moisturizing Face Sunscreen
  2. Beautycounter Dew Skin Moisturizing Coverage

Favorite Un-Tinted Face Sunscreens

  1. Luzern La Defense SPF 30 Urban Protect
  2. Keys SolarRx Moisturizer with Sunscreen SPF 30
  3. Beautycounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Stick SPF 30

Favorite Body Sunscreens

  1. Beautycounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 
  2. Beautycounter Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Mist SPF 30 (air-powered)
  3. Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 for Body
  4. Love Sun Body Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 Fragrance-Free