Memorial Day Weekend is almost here, and I know you probably haven’t even thought about what’s been sitting in your beach bag for the last year, but it’s time to stock up on safe, nontoxic, eco-friendly sunscreen for you and your family. Every year, we are offered more clean options, which is great, (!) but some are better than others in the performance department. Sunscreen Stars is always one of my most popular posts of the year, and it’s my personal favorite to write. I’ve tried them all, (no, really, all of them) which makes this entry a little long, but it’s for your benefit. And, if you’re not up to speed on why nontoxic sunscreens are SO important, no worries. I’ve summed it up for you, along with what ingredients to avoid, at the bottom of this post.
Because you want SPF that isn’t too heavy, greasy or chalky-looking. (These are all suitable for children as well.)
- Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen for Body SPF 30 is simply stellar. It contains a whopping 20% non-nano zinc oxide, which not only protects from both UVA and UBV rays, but also soothes skin. The finish is quite sheer and the formula is very moisturizing, but not greasy, and it has a light, natural citrus scent. This is a solid, nontoxic sunscreen. They also make an unscented version and a TSA-approved travel size.
- Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc Continuous Spray Sunscreen SPF 30:Can I get a Hallelujah? Moms and lazy men everywhere can rejoice in the long-time-coming release of a safe sunscreen spray. (This spray uses continuous stream technology, not aerosol.) It’s nontoxic, and mineral-based, with non-nano zinc oxide. This formula is water-resistant up to 80 minutes, and contains loads of soothing, anti-inflammatory botanicals to soothe even the most sensitive skin. Also, it doesn’t leave a ghostly-white finish, and it’s hypoallergenic. Done, and done.**
- BANXBlock Fragrance Free SPF 40 is not only the official sunscreen of the LA County Lifeguards and the US Water Polo Team, but countless surfers and marathoners love this stuff, too. And, for good reason: it’s a workhorse. This sunscreen lasts and lasts, in and out of the water, and it doesn’t poison you or the ocean’s coral reefs (none of these picks will). The formula isn’t greasy, and once it’s rubbed in, there is minimal whiteness (which is rare for a water-resistant, mineral-based sunscreen). It also won’t run into your eyes, or sting them, making this a great pick for the whole family.
- Badger Broad Spectrum SPF 25 Unscented Sunscreen Lotion is kinda’ fabulous. This non-greasy formula sinks right into skin without leaving behind a chalky white residue. This sunscreen would please even the most high-maintenance bathing beauty, and you can’t beat the value. Perfect for the whole family
* * To be clear, I still prefer to use sunscreen cream or lotion to continuous-spray formulas on small babies and children. (If you’re a new mom, I suggest lathering your little one up before dressing them, before leaving the house.) I’m SO grateful to have continuous-spray options, and I will most definitely be using them in moderation this summer. However, I personally don’t like the thought of children accidentally inhaling the stuff, and it’s easy to miss a spot or apply too little, so these will make great reapplication options for us when we are outdoors.
FOR FACE (UNTINTED):
Because you and your sun buddy have different skin tones, and you only have room for 1 facial SPF in your carry-on.
- Hynt Beauty Sun Prep SPF 30 has done what I thought was impossible. They’ve created a transparent moisturizer, primer (that is silicone-free, I might add) and SPF, all-in-one. It is light, silky, and will absolutely not break you out. You absolutely must try this innovative formula; you will not be disappointed.
- Suntegrity Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen and Primer SPF 30 has a #1 rating by the EWG (as do all their sunscreens), and for good reason: it is totally nontoxic. This ultra-moisturizing sunscreen goes on sheer and creates a primed, semi-matte finish for makeup application, making it ideal for everyday as well as long days in the sun.
- Ursa Major Force Field Daily Defense SPF 18 goes on sheer – I’m talking ZERO white, chalky, tint, people, ZERO. It is not oily, greasy, heavy, or runny, it doesn’t leave me shiny, (the finish is semi-matte) and instead of rubbing it in for 5 minutes like many other SPF’s, it sinks right into skin. It is also perfect for those who are oily or acne-prone. If you’re only the beach, reapply often! It is only SPF 18!
- Luzern Laboratories La Defense SPF 30 Urban Protect is an incredible sunscreen for the face. It is light, yet hydrating, and it is suitable for all skin types. This transparent zinc-based formula contains a powerhouse of active, anti-aging ingredients that boost collagen and elastin and fight discoloration and free radicals, so it’s great for everyday wear under makeup as well as a beach day. (It even contains lutein, which protects skin from blue light emitted by computers and smartphone screens.) And, it smells amazing (like watermelon!).
- Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream SPF 30: This is a totally natural, broad spectrum SPF that thinks it’s a day cream and acts like a lotion. Active herbal extracts, plant-based oils and non-nano zinc oxide treat, moisturize and protect skin without ever leaving it feeling greasy or sticky. Makeup slides right on over this sunscreen, making it perfect for both work and play. This formula is best for normal to dry skin.
- Kypris Pot of Shade Heliotropic SPF 30 offers gentle, yet effective protection from UVA and UVB rays, and enhances skin to appear more plump, smooth, and luminous. Pot of Shade plays well with other KYPRIS skin care and makeup, and won’t leave skin chalky, so it’s perfect under makeup or alone. This calming, soothing, non-irritating formula is free from essential oils to accommodate reactive skin, and while it is great for all skin types, my oily skin really appreciates the non-greasy finish.
FOR FACE (TINTED):
Because you want some coverage.
- W3LL PEOPLE Bio Tint Multi Action Moisturizer SPF 30 is one of my favorites. Broccoli Seed Oil takes the place of the dimethicone found in most primers/bb creams/tinted SPF’s, perfecting the skin’s surface and leaving it smooth and primed without clogging pores. I do have to wait just one minute for it to “sink in”, but once it does, the finish is satin and flawless – not too matte, not too dewy, and definitely not heavy-feeling or looking. If you’re looking for makeup-like coverage, this formula is second to none; premium natural pigments correct skin imperfections/uneven skin tone, and clean, safe, natural pure zinc protects skin from harmful UVA/UVB rays. This stuff is even strong enough for a day spent outside. I wear Medium.
- Suntegrity 5-in-1 Natural Moisturizing Tinted Face Sunscreen SPF 30 gives incredible, nontoxic protection from the sun while evening out my skin tone. For those with normal-dry skin, it can also be worn over moisturizer and under makeup for everyday. And, with several versatile shades, there is an option for virtually everyone. (I wear Golden Light.) They also make a sample size, which is great for travel.
- Josh Rosebrook Tinted Nutrient Day Cream SPF30 is the same formula as the untinted version, except for the fact that it contains mineral pigment. The star of this SPF is high quality, mineral, uncoated, non nano, high micron zinc oxide to provide effective sunblock against skin damaging solar rays. Color adjusting earth minerals correct and brighten skin tone while plant oils and herbal synergies assist in skin transformation and repair via anti inflammatories, antioxidants, fatty acids and vital phytonutrients. This formula performs as a regenerating moisturizer, a broad spectrum sunscreen and light makeup. This formula is best for normal to dry skin.
- Luzern La Defense Urban Protect BB Cream SPF 20‘s active, anti-aging formula is very similar to that of Luzern’s La Defense. Its sun protection factor comes from titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, and it’s packed with antioxidants, vitamins, plant polyphenols and other botanicals to fight free radicals, pigmentation and brighten skin tone This lightweight BB cream’s complexion-correcting pigments create a soft-focus effect, blurring fine lines, pores and hyperpigmentation, so it’s a perfect daily tinted moisturizer, but the SPF is only 20, so I wouldn’t rely on it while on the beach all day.
- True Botanicals Everyday Sheer Coverage SPF 20 is one of my everyday essentials, and an all-time favorite. I love it so much that I even wear it as my tinted moisturizer under my makeup for evening. This product creates a true soft-focus effect, and it’s offered in two shades: light and medium. Please note: while I regularly go for a walk or run in this daily formula, I do not depend on it for a day at the beach; it was formulated to provide everyday protection.
LIPS, STICKS, POWDERS, ETC.
Because a girl’s gotta have accessories
- Ilia Moondance Radiant Translucent Powder SPF 20 is going to be on constant rotation in my routine this summer. This mineral-based finishing powder is perfect for touchups while on the go, and totally zaps shine. The spill-proof applicator has an open, close and buff option that is perfect for touching up while out in the sun.
- Ilia Tinted Lip Conditioner SPF 15 is the perfect trifecta of lip balm, lipstick, and sun protection. Ingredients such as cocoa and Shea butter hydrate lips, zinc oxide provides natural SPF, and the buildable colors are universally flattering. If you’re in the sun, reapply often.
- Suntegrity Lip CPR SPF 30 is already such a favorite, that I’m even wearing it at night. These sleek lil’ lipsticks provide a whopping SPF 30 without leaving you with a yucky sunscreen taste in your mouth, (they taste and smell minty!) and the colors are killer (my favorite is Sunrise Peach). The incredibly hydrating formula is even filled with Konjac Root Wrinkle-Filling Spheres to reduce the look of fine lines. Love!
- Hurraw! Sun Protection Lip Balm SPF 15 is a great no-frills, budget-friendly, unisex lip protectant. I finally got my husband to trade in his toxic lip SPF for this last summer, and he hasn’t complained. Reapply this formula often, though! Lip products wear off faster than body or face sunscreens.
- Banx Block Fragrance Free SPF 30 Stick is one of the best Clean SPF sticks I’ve ever tried. Packed with soothing zinc and chamomile, this fragrance-free stick is great for little ones, and once rubbed in, the whiteness totally disappears, which is so rare. Also, this formula won’t sting eyes and is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.
FOR BABY & CHILD
All of the above picks are absolutely, 100% baby and child-friendly, but in case you want something that’s just for them, these are my favorites:
- Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 is perfect, even for those with the most sensitive skin. This product is vegan, gluten-free, hypo-allergenic, non-comedogenic and totally nontoxic. Babo Botanicals uses non-nano clear zinc, and is loaded with plant-based ingredients like jojoba, rosehip, green tea and shea butter. And, again, see above for my take on Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc Continuous Spray SPF 30.
- I also love Babo Botanicals Fragrance-Free Clear Zinc Sport Stick SPF 30 for squirmy little faces and tiny little places. It is so easy to throw in my purse or in swim trunk pockets.
- Badger Sunscreen for Kids SPF 30: This sunscreen is soothing, super-safe and suitable for even the most sensitive skin. Non-nano zinc oxide provides up to 40 minutes of water-resistant protection. It does take some rubbing in to rid baby’s skin of the chalkiness factor, but it’s never bothered me. Only 6 simple ingredients!
- Badger Kids Face Stick SPF 35 is great for the whole family. Non-nano zinc provides up to 80 minutes of water-resistant protection, and the vanilla-orange scent (from essential oils) is a crowd-pleaser. Can be used on face, lips, etc.
WHY NONTOXIC SUNSCREEN IS SO IMPORTANT AND WHAT YOU SHOULD LOOK FOR:
- Just as when you are shopping for a body lotion, you should avoid sunscreens that contain synthetic fragrance, parabens, phthalates (all endocrine disruptors), petrolatum, (a nonrenewable resource) Phenoxyethanol,PPG’s, PEG’s and propylene glycol (generally toxic to human organs).
- If you only remember one thing from this post, let this be it: With all the Clean, nontoxic, affordable options out there, there is absolutely no reason to use a sunscreen with Oxybenzone or Octinoxate. These are the most popular chemical blockers (they absorb the sun’s rays before they can damage the skin) currently used in conventional sunscreen. Because they penetrate the skin very easily, both of these toxic chemicals can be found in the urine of nearly every American, mothers’ breastmilk and umbilical cord blood. Both are endocrine disruptors; they mimic estrogen, have been found to alter sperm count in animals and can interfere with normal fetal and childhood development. Also, they are literally killing the world’s coral reefs, thus damaging the rest of marine life in our oceans. This isn’t a theory, it is a proven fact; Hawaii is actually set to be the first state to ban the sale of sunscreens that contain these two toxic ingredients. Similar chemical blockers that carry similar hazards are Homosalate, Avobenzone and Octocrylene. That said, look for sunscreens that contain Zinc Oxide and/or Titanium Dioxide as their active ingredients. These are “physical blockers”; they are minerals that literally block the sun’s rays from damaging the skin and are very safe. For more information on the dangers of conventional sunscreen, please visit The Environmental Working Group.
Please let me know if you have questions about these or any other sunscreens!
I’ve spent almost a decade immersed in the world of green beauty and nontoxic living. I want to help you find everything from a killer lipstick to a nontoxic laundry detergent, and beyond. Subscribe to a healthier lifestyle with me.
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