With summer approaching, now is the time to stock up on the best natural sunscreen. The options can be completely overwhelming, though! Not to mention, it is hard to find a lotion that feels good on your skin and is also safe and effective.
The truth is that not all sunscreens are created equal. In fact, some sunscreens do more harm than good. The active ingredient in sunscreen is either a physical block, a chemical block, or a combination of both. Many sunscreens contain a chemical block which should be avoided. When reading labels two chemicals, in particular, to avoid are:
- Oxybenzone: It’s main function in sunscreen is to absorb ultraviolet light providing broad spectrum coverage of UVB and UVA rays. It is also found in hair sprays, cosmetics, and nail polishes to protect the product from sunlight damage. Manufacturers also use the chemical in plastics as an ultraviolet light absorber and stabilizer. It sounds effective. However, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and other organizations have concerns about oxybenzone because it is linked to hormone disruptions and skin allergies. Additionally, two European studies have detected oxybenzone in breast milk.
- Retinyl palmitate: This is a form of vitamin A and is used in sunscreens and other skin care products because of its antioxidant properties and anti-aging benefits. However, government-funded studies have found that retinyl palmitate may increase the risk of skin cancer when used on skin that is exposed to the sun. The EWG states that while the evidence is not definitive it is troubling.
The bottom line is that you can avoid these chemicals and still find great sun protection! So, what should you look for in a natural sunscreen? Healthiest recommends products with non-nano zinc oxide as the active ingredient like these for the face and body from Suntegrity. They provide protection from UVA and UVB rays while also moisturizing and hydrating the skin. Zinc oxide is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and is a safer alternative to oxybenzone.
Make the switch to healthier, safer products by visiting the Healthiest Product Swaps page. Want more information about what ingredients to avoid in your products? Check out Healthiest’s No Thanks List and the EWG’s list of the Worst Sunscreens For Kids.