Safer Beauty

Sunscreen Safety 101

Hey, friends!

I’m switching gears a bit today and talking about sunscreen.  Food is important to our health, but it’s not the only area where we should be ingredient-conscious.  Our skin is our largest organ and every day it’s being slathered in lotions, soaps, sprays, and more.  Doesn’t it make sense that we should be educated about what we do, and do not, want to be putting on our skin and in our bodies? I thought so!  Rather than inundate you with all-the-info, I’m going to start small and focus on sunscreen since we’re on the cusp of Summer!

Did you hear about Hawaii banning chemical sunscreens (specifically oxybenzone and octinoxate) because they’re bleaching the coral reefs?  If not, you can read about it here and here.

There has been a lot of research recently that indicates oxybenzone can also be harmful to humans.  It’s considered an “endocrine disrupter”.  A broad definition of an endocrine disruptor is a chemical that can mimic naturally occurring hormones (like estrogen) in our bodies. When this happens, these chemicals can affect (aka disrupt) our endocrine system and cause a variety of issues including cancer, allergies, and autoimmune disorders. (here’s a more science-y explanation if you’re into that type of thing)

If you search the inter-webs for articles on oxybenzone safety,  you will absolutely find intelligently written articles that say we can’t possibly be exposed to enough oxybenzone in our lifetime to cause any harm.  And to be honest, they may be right (I’m not a scientist). But the truth is there are endocrine disruptors in a lot of the products we use every day.  Take a minute and really think about all of the products you’re putting directly on your skin every day; I bet it’s at least 3-5, right?  Long term exposure due to using multiple products on a daily basis is why we need to be aware of what we’re consuming and putting on our bodies.  We can’t completely eliminate our toxin exposure, but we can do our best to reduce it by avoiding products that contain known endocrine disruptors.

The bottom line for me is: better to be safe than sorry.

Now that you know why ingredient safety matters, here are some tips to make your sunscreen shopping and application a little easier this Summer:

  1. The best option is a sunscreen that’s mineral based – meaning they use ingredients like zinc-oxide or titanium dioxide.
  2. Avoid aerosol sprays – aside from being harmful to the environment, there’s a good chance you’re breathing in the chemical compound used to make aerosol sprays, which could also cause harm over time. (if you’re using a chemical based aerosol spray sunscreen, you’re then inhaling chemical compounds from the aerosol and oxybenzone particles)
  3. Reapply often! One of the most common mistakes made with mineral based sunscreens is to not reapply enough.  Most brands will tell you on the bottle how frequently you should reapply (probably 60-90 minutes depending on the brand) and those directions need to be followed to avoid burning!
  4. Wait 10-15 minutes before going into the sun/water – Give your sunscreen a few minutes to soak in before you start swimming or getting sweaty in the sun.  This helps prevent your sunscreen from being washed away as soon as you hit the water. Even water-resistant sunscreens need a few minutes to absorb before you hit the waves.

My Sunscreen Recommendations: 

  1. Beautycounter’s Countersun Mist, Stick, and Lotion (SPF 30) – I’m a consultant for Beautycounter, and they just released their new collection that uses non-nano zinc oxide to protect from UVA and UVB, and California poppy to protect from blue light rays! (Blue light rays can contribute to aging and fine lines)
  2. Goddess Garden Organics Everyday Lotion SPF 30 – I used this one while visiting the Grand Canyon a few years ago and it worked well
  3. Babyganics Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50 – to be honest, I don’t think there’s a benefit to having a mineral sunscreen over 30/35 because you still need to reapply fairly often, but the ingredients on this one looks good, and it’s usually available at places like Target if you’re not a fan of online shopping.
  4. Juice Beauty Sport Sunscreen SPF 30 – I’ve used their beauty products in the past and I trust this brand, so I’m willing to bet that their sunscreen works well.

I hope you find this helpful! If you’re interested in learning more about safer skincare and household products leave a comment! I love talking safer beauty and sharing what I’ve learned throughout the years.


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