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The Best Non-Toxic Sunscreen (And Ones To Avoid!)

Updated: May 6, 2019

It's almost time to trade in sweaters for swimsuits!

But first, we need to discuss sunscreen.

Many sunscreens contain toxic ingredients or endocrine disrupting chemicals that may promote skin cancer growth and free radical production in the body. In fact, in the years since sunscreen use began, skin cancer rates have actually risen, and a 2007 document from the FDA stated that: “The FDA is not aware of data demonstrating that sunscreen use alone helps prevent skin cancer” In fact, many reports show that most sunscreens actually raise skin cancer risk.

A 2018 report from Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that nearly 67 percent of sunscreens didn’t work. "Most sunscreens available today typically offer protection in the form of either a mineral sunscreen or a chemical sunscreen. Mineral sunscreens (the one I use!) are made with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These minerals sit on the surface of your skin and physically reflect sunlight away from the skin. Chemical sunscreens work a bit differently and have caused concern amongst dermatologists and researchers. Instead of physically deflecting UV light away from the skin, chemical sunscreens absorb the UV radiation into the skin and dissipate the energy via a chemical reaction under the skin. Additionally, there is concern that chemical sunscreen ingredients can permeate the skin and cause hormone disruption and allergic reactions. Because of this, the EWG and most dermatologists recommend using mineral sunscreens instead of chemical sunscreens. Common chemical sunscreen ingredients to avoid include oxybenzone (one of the worst offenders), avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate." (Skincare Ox)

If you're Vitamin D deficient like me and many others, traditional sunscreen could be doing more harm than good. Think about this: "Vitamin D = necessary for correct hormone formation. Sunscreen ingredients like Oxybenzone = endocrine disruptors that inhibit correct hormone formation. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to many types of cancers including the most deadly types of breast cancer. Lack of Vitamin D has also been linked to problems during pregnancy including pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, premature labor, and more." (Wellness Mama)

But, before you run and grab the first natural sunscreen you see, you need to know that they're not all created equal! Terms like “natural” and “organic” are not regulated by the FDA. So that beautiful, natural looking packaging with the word "natural" across it is pretty much meaningless. The solution? You need to read the label. However, I've made it even easier for you! Below I've included the best non-toxic sunscreens, all rated "1" on EWG's Skin Deep Database. And further down I've listed ones to avoid.

This is the sunscreen that I use most. It's thick, but not as thick as other mineral sunscreens I've used. It spreads easily and absorbs quickly. I use it on my face and it doesn't leave me feeling greasy!

This is the sunscreen I used before trying Love Sun Body. It's pretty thick and doesn't spread as easily, but it works well and I still have a tube. Just rub it between your fingertips to warm it up and help it spread!

This one has a really great rating and is on my list to get for when I need a quick and easy application!

Now that we've covered some of the good ones, here are the worst sunscreens for kids on EWG According to Dr. Axe:

Banana Boat Kids Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 100

Banana Boat Kids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100

Coppertone Water Babies Foaming Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 70

Coppertone Kids Sunscreen Continuous AccuSpray, SPF 70

Coppertone Kids Sunscreen Continuous Spray, SPF 50

Coppertone Wet’n Clear Kids Sunscreen Continuous Spray, SPF 50+

Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55

CVS Health Kids Clear Sunscreen Spray, SPF 50 & 70

Equate Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70

Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen, SPF 60+

Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Stick Sunscreen, SPF 70+

Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray, SPF 70+

Up & Up Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55

Up & Up Kids Sunscreen Spray, SPF 50

And here are some of the other worst overall offenders scoring in the Red Zone (7-10) for major safety concerns:

Panama Jack Sport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 85

Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunscreen, SPF 60+

CVS Health Sun Lotion, SPF 60

Up & Up Sport Sunscreen Spray, SPF 15, 30 & 50

Panama Jack Sunscreen Continuous Spray, SPF 15, 30 & 70

NO-AD Sun Care Sport Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 50

Neutrogena Wet Skin Sunscreen Spray, SPF 50 & 85+

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Sunscreen Spray, SPF 30

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen, SPF 70, 85+ & 100+

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen, SPF 70, 85+ & 100+

Curious to see where your favorite sunscreen falls on the EWG list? Just click here and search it!

Which sunscreen do you use? Did any of this information shock you? Have a question for me? Leave me a comment below and let me know!

*Some of the sunscreens I've recommended contain beeswax and therefore are not completely vegan.

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Hi, I'm Melissa!

I'm the creator of Forkin' Plants and when it comes to food, I love sharing healthier versions of comforting classics. I'm also passionate about eco-friendly, cruelty-free, non-toxic living and healing through food - thanks for being here!

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