Beauty, Skin

Sunscreen: Everything You Need To Know and Some Things You Didn’t Want To


One of the most common questions I get is regarding sunscreen. Because I am somewhat new to natural and organic beauty products, I decided to launch an investigation and see what is the truth about this misunderstood product. In years past, I would grab whatever was new and promised all kind of bells and whistles. Now, I just want something simple and non toxic.

You only need 20 minutes of direct sunlight and your body naturally makes Vitamin D. It can boost the immune system, help fight cancer and improve mood. A little sun is good for you!

Since you want to be smart about your skin, aging and sun exposure, you probably apply sunscreen thinking you are doing a good thing. Maybe not. The EWG tested 800 commercially-available sunscreens and only 25 percent of these products protected skin without the use of toxins. That’s a scary thought. In fact, I’m really glad I decided to go natural and look into ingredients because if I didn’t, Id still be applying these chemicals right on my skin. And as we know, 60-80% of what we put on our skin is absorbed.

Let’s look at what you don’t want in your product:

The sunscreen industry adds a form of vitamin A to nearly one-quarter of all sunscreens, its called Retinyl palmitate. This is an anti-oxidant that slows skin aging however, federal studies show that it may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions when applied to skin in the presence of sunlight. And where do you apply sunscreen? In the sunlight!

Stay away from oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. These ingredients can do one or all of the following- cause disruption of hormones,  absorb through the skin, break down into unknown chemicals, produce free radicals, cause DNA damage and cancer, cause allergic reactions. An ingredient called Menthyl Anthranilate is not even allowed in Europe or Japan! Unfortunely for us, the sun screen industry offers no rigorous safety standards for consumers.

Every summer we watched our friend’s dog. And every summer, I’d bust out my heavy duty suncreen containing several of the ingredients listed above. And each year I would break out in a horrible rash that I blamed on the dog. Finally I began to understand that it wasn’t the dog. It was the oxybenzone.

Check out this research: “The most problematic of the sunscreen chemicals used in the U.S. is oxybenzone, found in 80 percent of chemical sunscreens. EWG recommends that consumers avoid oxybenzone because it can penetrate the skin, cause allergic skin reactions and may disrupt hormones.  Preliminary investigations of human populations suggest a link between higher concentrations of oxybenzone and its metabolites in the body and increased risk of endometriosis and lower birthweight in daughters.”


So what’s a girl to do? Look for Mineral Sunscreen that contains  plant-based ingredients. Look for zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as active ingredients. Mineral sunscreens are better at blocking UVA rays, they offer protection but don’t mess with our natural hormones. The minerals do not break down easily in the sun, and cause fewer allergic reactions. They don’t penetrate the skin,  instead the minerals sit on top of the skin creating a physical barrier from the sun.

I have been using a good sunscreen from The Honest Company that I like. Ava Anderson Non Toxic Daily Moisturizer, SPF 15 is very low on the hazard scale via SkinDeep. Other non toxic brands include DeVita, Dr. T’s Supergoop, COOLA Suncare, Kiss My Face Kids, and more which you can see here. 

If you want protection for your face, Avene has a wonderful, non toxic makeup with a sunscreen containing an SPF 50. Marie Veronique, one of my faves, also offers some wonderful products that contain an Spf too.

Keep this in mind too“While SPF 85 may sound like a lot more protection than SPF 30, the higher the number doesn’t always give a high return. Studies show that sunscreen with SPF 15 can block about 93 percent of all incoming UVB rays. SPF 30 blocks 97 percent. SPF 50 blocks 98 percent. “The protective factors plateau from there. A product with SPF 100+ blocks about 99.1 percent of the UVB rays,” [Dr. Ariel] Ostad said. “You don’t really need a high number. They end up being expensive and don’t offer more protection than SPF 50.”

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1 thought on “Sunscreen: Everything You Need To Know and Some Things You Didn’t Want To

  1. Great post. Just want to clarify the difference in mineral sunscreens. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are both minerals, but they work in different ways to block the sun’s rays. Titanium dioxide absorbs rays and is very reactive in the presence of UV–in fact it is used in industry to generate free radicals. Non-nano zinc oxide by contrast is the one sunscreen agent in the arsenal that works by reflecting UV rays. Sunscreens containing non-nano zinc oxide are therefore not only the safest, but also the most effective when it comes to preventing premature aging from free radical damage.

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