The Sunscreen Guide, Part I


Ah, sunscreen.   It seems like just yesterday I shunned you for Hawaiian Tropic tanning oil (did that stuff smell amazing, or what?)….  These days, I rarely go without it, and it is usually SPF 45 or higher.  A few summers ago, I read several articles that said that skin cancer rates were rising in the U.S. even though almost everyone wears tons of sunscreen and is vitamin D deficient.  Isn’t that weird?  It made me think that something must be wrong with what we are using.  Jessica, meet rabbit hole.  You ready for this?

We already covered all the nasty ingredients in your body lotion.  These are also in your current sunscreen and these are the inactive ingredients.  The active ingredients in most conventional sunscreen (benzophenone, homosalate, octinoxate, octyl-methoxycinnamate, oxybenzone, PABA, or padimate-O) are chemical blockers, meaning that they absorb UV rays before they can damage your skin.  This sounds good, but some of these chemicals have scary consequences.  For instance, you’ll see that many sunscreens boast “PABA-free” on the front of the bottle.  That is because PABA, or padimate-O, is a known carcinogen.  Oxybenzone, probably the most popular chemical blocker currently used, is an endocrine (hormone) disruptor.  It is easily absorbed into the body, and if you peed into a cup right now, it would be detected in your urine (even if you haven’t been using sunscreen lately).  Something else to note about conventional sunscreens: many only block UVB rays.  The sun’s UVA rays also age us and cause cancer, so I find it pretty insulting that for my entire life, I have been smearing parabens, phthalates, silicones, PABA, and countless other poisons all over my body in the name of youth preservation and a cancer-free existence, only to be missing half the equation.  Hmph.

What to do?  Luckily, the market is flooded with effective natural sunscreens. You just have to read your labels carefully.  You want to purchase sunscreen that uses physical blockers, which actually block and deflect UVA and UVB rays (also referred to as broad-spectrum).  Look for zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (minerals that are found in nature) under the active ingredients list on the bottle.  And make sure that you scan the inactive ingredients listed as well.

Oh, did you want some recs?



Aubrey is a very trust-worthy brand and this sunscreen is no different.  It uses very few ingredients and it is well-priced.  Cost: about $16 for 4 oz.  Purchase it here.

Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide 12% Titanium Dioxide 5.6%  Inactive ingredients: Purified water, simmondsia chinensis oil*, helianthus annuus seed oil*, galactoarabinan, glyceryl stearate, cetearyl alcohol, stearic acid and sodium cocoyl glutamate, butyrospermum parkii butter*, camellia sinensis seed oil*, brassica campestris-aleurites fordi oil copolymer, aloe barbadensis leaf juice*, glycerin, epilobium angustifolium flower/leaf/ stem extract, glyceryl caprylate and glyceryl undecylenate, leuconostoc/radish root ferment filtrate, lonicera japonica flower extract, lonicera caprifolium flower extract, populus tremuloides bark extract, gluconolactone, tocopherol, citric acid, xanthan gum. *Organic



I love this sunscreen.  It works well on face and body and leaves no white tint.  I also love that it is in a glass bottle.  I have always wondered why we are told not to drink water out of disposable plastic bottles that have been left in the sun, but we apply sunscreen from plastic tubes that pretty much boil in the sun all day.  Cost: about $32 for 2 oz.  Purchase it here or at Whole Foods.

Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 7.5%, Zinc Oxide 5.0%, Aqua (water), aloe barbadensis (aloe vera) leaf juice,* capric caprylic triglycerides, ethyl hexyl palmitate, glyceryl stearate, glycerin, cetyl alcohol, jojoba oil,* shea butter,* panthenol, tocopherol acetate, allantoin, sodium pca, green tea extract,* magnesium aluminum silicate, hyaluronic acid, calendula extract,* ethyl hexyl glycerin, benzyl alcohol * NOP Certified Organic



Another winner from Lavanila.  This provides great protection along with good-for-your-face ingredients like aloe and hyaluronic acid.  Cost: about $28 for 1.8oz.  Purchase it here.

Active Ingredients:  Titanium Dioxide 7.5%; Zinc Oxide 5.0%.  Other Ingredients: Allantoin (vegetable), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Alpha Tocopherol (vitamin E), Butyrospermum parkii (Shea Butter), Calendula officinalis (calendula) flower extract, Capric caprylic triglycerides (coconut oil), cetyl alcohol, ethyl hexyl palmitate (palm oil), ethyl hexyl glycerine (plant-based preservatives), glycerin, glyceryl stearate, green tea extract, hyaluronic acid, jojoba oil, Morinda Citrifolia (Noni Juice), Panthenol (provitamin B), Phenethyl Alcohol, Polyglyceryl-3 Stearate (vegetable glycerin/palm oil), Sodium PCA (amino acid), Vanilla Planifolia Extract



This formulation from Coola has lots of vitamin C to fight free radicals and goes on sheer.  Be sure to read the ingredients when purchasing Coola, because they make some not-so-bare-beauty-approved formulas, too.  Cost: about $34 for 3 oz.  Purchase it here.

Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide (Sunblock) 6% Zinc Oxide (Sunblock) 3% Inactive ingredients: Water (Aqua), Nylon-12, Sclerotium Gum, Cetearyl Alcohol (Plant Derived), Cetearyl Glucoside, Phenoxyethanol (Preservative), Glyceryl Stearate (Plant Derived), Polysorbate-60 (Plant Derived), C14-22 Alcohols, Ethylhexylglycerin (Plant Derived Preservative), C12-20 Alkyl Glucoside, Lecithin, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E Acetate), Dog (Rosa Canina) Rose Hips, Plankton Extract, Borage (Starflower) Seed Oil, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Extract, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Stabilized Vitamin C), Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Oil, Tetrasodium EDTA, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Disodium EDTA. ORGANIC INGREDIENTS: Butyrospermum Parkii (ORGANIC Shea Butter) Beeswax (ORGANIC) Cucumis Sativus (ORGANIC Cucumber) Fruit Extract 


Sun Shield SPF 28 Coconut copy

This sunscreen is gentle enough for the whole family.  It uses ZinClear, refined zinc, to avoid the white tint some mineral sunscreens give, and it smells like coconut, naturally.  Cost: about $20 for 2.3 oz.  Purchase it here or at Whole Foods.

Active Ingredients: 11.6% Zinc Oxide (ZinClear™), 0.67% Titanium Dioxide.  Inactive Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Coconut)**, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate (Coconut Oil), Glycerin (Vegetable)*, Cetearyl Alcohol (Coconut)**, Cetearyl Glucoside (Coconut)**, Squalane (Spanish Olive), Gluconolactone**, Dicaprylyl Ether (Coconut Oil/Palm Kernel Oil)**, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder*, Fructooligosaccharides (D-Beta) (NutraFlora®), Tocopheryl Acetate, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Allantoin (Comfrey Root), Glyceryl Isostearate, Isononyl Isononanoate, Polyglyceryl-6 Polyricinoleate (Vegetable), Polysorbate 60, Xanthan Gum (Fermented Sugar), Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Alumina, Simethicone, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate**, Fragrance/Parfum (Natural) (*Certified Organic)

Remember, a little goes a long way when applying natural sunscreen, but you will need to reapply more often.  Most of these companies produce baby & child sunscreen as well multiple SPF options.

Some other brands that check out as far as safe ingredients are: Badger, True Natural, Block Island, Organic Pharmacy, Pratima, Juice Beauty, Erbaviva, Snowberry, Neal’s Yard, and Soleo Organics.  However, I have not physically tried any of these.  If you have, please let us know what you think!

I hope you have a great day!