Unfortunately, skin cancer rates have been steadily rising each year despite people covering themselves in sunscreen. It is more important than ever to know how to choose a safe sunscreen that will protect your skin and your health. With summer on the horizon, now is the perfect time to stock up on sunscreen. But before you do, learn how to avoid harmful ingredients and how to distinguish between the different types of sunscreens.
As the name suggests, these sunscreens use chemical filters such as octocrylene, oxybenzone and octinoxate. Chemical sunscreens absorb the sun’s UV rays, convert them to infrared rays, which is then released through heat in the skin. This is a chemical reaction that takes place within the skin layer. A downside of chemical sunscreens is that they can cause irritation in the skin.
In addition, oxybenzone, used to absorb UV light, is absorbed by the skin and quickly enters the blood stream. Research suggests that oxybenzone is potentially disruptive to hormones and can increase free radicals in the body. Oxybenzone and octinoxate are also hazardous to the environment and recent studies have shown that these two chemicals can damage coral reefs.
Physical sunscreens contain active mineral ingredients that work as physical blockers, in contrast to the absorption method used by chemical sunscreens. The active ingredients used are titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, which sit on the top skin layer to deflect UV rays away from the skin. They work immediately and do not absorb into the skin.
Zinc oxide protects against the full spectrum of UVA and UVB rays. It is considered to be the safest ingredient to use on babies and children.
Titanium dioxide provides broad protection against UVB rays and some of the UVA rays — the short UVA rays — but not the full spectrum.
Physical sunscreens often contain nanoparticles, and there is concern that these particles can be absorbed by the body and cause cell damage. If you are concerned about this, the EWG states that:
“Some studies indicate that nanoparticles can harm living cells and organs when administered in large doses. But a large number of studies have produced no evidence that zinc oxide nanoparticles can cross the skin in significant amounts (SCCS 2012).”
A higher SPF (Sun Factor Protection) does not mean greater protection. This fact surprises many people.
- SPF15 blocks 93% of UVB rays
- SPF30 blocks nearly 97% UVB rays
- There is very little difference between an SPF50 and SPF100, in fact it is about 1% extra coverage of UVB rays. An SPF over 50 is considered to be misleading as this extra protection is minimal.
- It is wiser to use an SPF30 to SPF50 and reapply often.
- It is important to note that the higher SPF rating may not include protection of UVA rays. It is the UVB rays that cause sunburn, but the UVA rays can cause skin damage and aging.
How to stay safe in the sun
We recommend choosing an organic sunscreen that uses zinc oxide as the active ingredient, and to choose a brand that uses a safe SPF rating, for example, no greater than SPF50.
Sunscreen is not your only means of protection. You can choose to wear sun-safe clothing and swimwear, stay in the shade (with protection) and stay out of the sun during peak hours in summer.
The EWG (Environmental Working Group) provides a guide to sunscreens, rating them in terms of safety and effectiveness. The better sunscreens have a low rating.
Here is a quick-glance guide to the top ten sunscreens as rated by the EWG.
The Best Sunscreens of 2018, Beach & Sport
- All Good Sunstick, Unscented, SPF 30
- Aromatica Calendula Non-Nano UV Protection, SPF 30
- Attitude 100% Mineral Sunscreen, Fragrance Free, SPF 30
- Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Lotion Sunscreen, Sensitive Skin, SPF 50
- Badger Sunscreen Cream, Unscented, SPF 30
- Goddess Garden Organics Everyday Natural Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
- Just Skin Food Natural & Organic Sunscreen, SPF 30
- Kabana Organic Skincare Green Screen Sunscreen, Neutral, SPF 31
- Poofy Organics The Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30
- Sunology Mineral Sunscreen, Body, SPF 50
- Sunology Natural Sunscreen, Face, SPF 50
- Thinksport Sunscreen, SPF 50+
- Waxhead Sun Defense Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30
- Zeb’s Organics Sunscreen, SPF 20 & 30
The Best Sunscreens of 2018, Kid-Friendly
- · Adorable Baby Sunscreen, SPF 30+
- · All Good Kid’s Sunscreen, SPF 30
- · Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Lotion Sunscreen, Sensitive Skin, SPF 50
- · Badger Kids Sunscreen Cream, Tangerine & Vanilla, SPF 30
- · Bare Republic Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, Baby, SPF 50
- · Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen, Baby, SPF 30+
- · BurnOut Kids Sunscreen, SPF 35
- · California Baby Calendula Sunscreen, SPF 30+
- · COOLA Suncare Baby Mineral Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50
- · Equate Baby Zinc Sunscreen Mineral Lotion, SPF 50
- · Goddess Garden Organics Kids Sport Natural Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
- · Hawaiian Sol Sol Kid Kare, SPF 50
- · Kiss My Face Organics Kids Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30
- · MDSolarSciences KidCreme Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 40
- · Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen, SPF 50
- · Nurture My Body Baby Organic Sunscreen, SPF 32
- · Sunology Mineral Sunscreen, Kids, SPF 50
- · thinkbaby Sunscreen, SPF 50+
- · thinksport Kids Sunscreen, SPF 50+
- · Tom’s of Maine Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
- · TruBaby Water & Play Sunscreen, SPF 30+
- · TruKid Sunny Days Sport Sunscreen, SPF 30
- · Waxhead Sun Defense Baby Zinc Oxide Sunscreen, SPF 35
((Lists taken from draxe.com source https://draxe.com/best-sunscreens/)