What’s new in sunscreen?
When I think of the sunscreen I used to apply to myself, I cringe. Each spring, it seems new research pops up highlighting just how terrible the sunscreens of summers past have been. 2016 was the year we all learned that not all sunscreens are created equal. Research showed that major sun care brands not only were putting super harmful chemicals in their products but that they were also providing inadequate protection from the sun. Largely, major brands were misleading customers with high SPF values that their products couldn’t actually provide. Sadly, all these products are still on the shelves as regulations do not carry the force of laws.
What’s scary about traditional sunscreens?
- Sunscreens can seriously play with your hormone levels. Oxybenzone is a common ingredient in traditional sunscreens. It is linked to endometriosis in older women and lower birth rates in baby girls. Adolescent boys with higher oxybenzone levels have been shown to have significantly lower total testosterone levels.
- Oxybenzone is also known for triggering allergic reactions on the skin. In the case of my daughter, traditional sunscreens cause eczema outbreaks.
- Retinyl palmitate, another common sunscreen ingredient, has been linked to the development of skin tumors when in the presence of sunlight. Kind of defeats the purpose, am I right?
Hurray for consumer buying power!
I do my best not to pay companies to poison me and my family and I encourage you to do the same! Even if those products have the right to be on store shelves, we have the right not to purchase them. Instead, as consumers, we can make our voices heard by purchasing sunscreens that are free of toxic chemicals, not tested on animals, and that hold themselves to higher standards.
That being said.
Even natural sunscreens contain nanoparticals of titanium dioxide or zinc oxide (this is to make the sunscreen transparent and not chalky white). However, given the research and information currently available this type of sunscreen is the Environmental Working Group‘s first choice for skin protection.
You may be saying to yourself, but I’ve seen sunscreens labelled as being “non-nano”? Yeah me too. In fact, I recently purchased a bottle with such claims. I’ve since emailed the company requesting information about this “non-nano” labelling and am waiting for a reply!
Imperfect sunscreen protection is better than none.
If you’re looking for the perfect sunscreen stop looking. It just doesn’t exist. But below are sunscreens that you can feel good about using on yourself and your children. Or at the very least, know you’re not messing with your hormone levels. Or completely destroying the environment (also the reason you won’t see any aerosols on this list).
- Goddess Garden Organics: This sunscreen is made with plant-based ingredients and natural minerals. They are also very open about their ingredients, and are honest about what their “nano-free” claim means unlike other companies who make similar statements.
- Green Beaver Natural Mineral Sunscreen: I’m a big fan of Green Beaver products. Their sunscreens are certified organic, 100% natural, biodegradable and gluten-free. I highly recommend this sunscreen for persons with gluten sensitivities.
- Badger Baby Sunscreen Cream: This all natural sunscreen gets super high ratings from parents all over the internet. It is also one of the most highly rated by the Environmental Working Group. Badger is also super open and honest about their labelling and ingredients. The baby sunscreen is hypoallergenic, water resistant and vegan.
- Babyganics Mineral Based Sunscreen: Babyganics is the only sunscreen I’ve come across that claims to be tear-free which is pretty cool. At least once a week last summer I got sunscreen in a squirming child’s eye. It is also dermatologist tested, waterproof and vegan. Babyganics purpose, values and commitment to sustainability makes them an A+ company in my books!
- Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen: Can’t forget about my Australian and NZ readers! Across the web Blue Lizard has been largely regarded as the #1 mineral based sunscreen for those living down under. How I came across the brand was looking for sunscreens recommended by Australian parents who had children with eczema. This sunscreen is chemical, paraben and fragrance-free. Also really cool is their patented SmartBottle which turns a deep pink when in the presence of harmful UV rays.
- TruBaby Mineral Sunscreen: Trubaby Sunscreen is 100% natural, gluten, phthalate and paraben-free. It is safe for those with eczema and is paediatrician and dermatologist tested. Trubaby is also PETA certified.
- Boo Bamboo Natural Sunscreen: Boo Bamboo is an unscented natural sunscreen. It is paraben, gluten and DEA free, plus their product is proudly vegan.
- ThinkSport Mineral Based Formula: This is the sunscreen I chose for my family this summer. It is top rated by the EWG and is the first sunscreen to pass the Whole Foods Premium Body Care Standards. However, when I emailed them to enquire about their product labelling, their customer service left an extremely bad taste in my mouth to say the least. To date, they have been unwilling to answer my product labelling questions. So, I’m not willing to 100% promote this sunscreen and will probably choose another brand from this list next time.
The most important thing to do when purchasing sun care products for your family is to read (and question!) the label. The definition of natural is very broad in the marketing world so try to get used to reading past the large label companies want you to read and start reading the tiny print on the back of the bottles.
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What’s your favourite on the list?