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What You Need to Know About Sunscreen


Article by Lacey Spallitta

Photography by Stock Photo

We all need to be wearing sunscreen everyday but our skin is one of our biggest organs and what we put on it soaks into our body and can have an effect on our over all health. So what sunscreen is safe and actually works—because we also need to be cautious of not getting too much sun that can lead to burns and skin cancer. So much to figure out!

My first recommendation is to try and cover up what you can by using a rash guard or hat if you are planning on being outside for a long period of time. Especially for your kiddos. 

Second, look at the ingredients of your sunscreen. Just like food, the ingredients matter. 

RELATED: 3 Face Mask Ingredients to Avoid

Ingredients to Look + Watch Out For

Active Ingredients: Mineral sunscreens will list zinc and/or titanium dioxide ONLY. Be wary of the term “mineral-based,” which often means zinc and/or titanium dioxide have been mixed with chemical sunscreens.

Water-Resistance: A sunscreen can only claim to be water-resistant if it has undergone a forty- or eighty-minute test. If it’s not stated clearly on the label, most likely it will wash or sweat off.

Broad-Spectrum: This is important, as it means that the sunscreen blocks both UVA and UVB rays.

High SPF: The FDA does not regulate SPF higher than 50 and there’s no scientific proof they work better than lower SPF. Many of the higher SPFs do not provide any additional protection and studies have suggested that users are exposed to as many or more ultraviolet rays as those who use lower-SPF products.

Inactive Ingredients: Even if the active ingredients are non-toxic (i.e., mineral), make sure that it’s not otherwise loaded with toxic ingredients. Red flags include anything ending in -paraben, pthalates, sodium laureth sulfate, and fragrance. 

What Sunscreen Should You Use?

When it comes to sunscreen I prefer to follow the EWG's  (Environmental Working Group) recommendations as they have done a lot of research, testing and has higher standards when it comes to ingredients and protection against the sun. 

In the EWG’s 2020 best sunscreens report, the group analyzed the ingredients and labeling claims of more than 1,300 products with SPF, including 750 sport and beach sunscreens. So what are the best sunscreens out there? 

“Based on the best current science and toxicology data, we continue to recommend sunscreens with the mineral active ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, because they are the only two ingredients the FDA recognized as safe or effective in their proposed draft rules,” says Carla Burns, sunscreen research and database analyst at Environmental Working Group (EWG). 

Here are some of the most highly rated sunscreens that met EWG’s criteria for safety and effectiveness:

  • 365 Everyday Value Mineral Sunscreen Sport Lotion, SPF 30
  • All Good Sunstick, Unscented, SPF 30
  • Adorable Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
  • Badger Sunscreen Cream, Unscented, SPF 30
  • Badger Clear Zinc Sunscreen Cream, SPF 30 & 35
  • Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen Lotion, Fragrance Free, SPF 30
  • Block Island Organics Natural Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • Butterbean Organics Simple Healthy Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • California Baby Super Sensitive Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30+
  • Just Skin Food Baby Beach Bum Sunscreen Stick, SPF 31
  • Kabana Organic Skincare Green Screen Sunscreen Lotion, Original, SPF 32
  • Loving Naturals Clear Body Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
  • Raw Elements Face + Body Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • Star Naturals Baby Natural Sunscreen Stick, SPF 25
  • Summer Lotion Natural Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • SunBioLogic Men’s Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
  • Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, Sport, SPF 30
  • thinksport Body & Face Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30
  • thinksport Kids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50+
  • thinkbaby Body & Face Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30
  • Waxhead Sun Defense Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30

Also of note, many sunscreen powerhouse brands are now offering safer options, although not all of these brands’ offerings are considered safer EWG picks. For the full EWG list of sunscreens click here.

Even though the sun can damage our skin it is great for our health to get some sun and vitamin D in a safe way. Vitamin D has many health benefits such as bone health, immunity, and even help with hormones that control appetite. So do go out and get some Vitamin D but please put on sunscreen!!



RELATED: Sunscreens That Are Safe for Your Face