Recently I was approached by a gentleman who asked me what kind of sunscreen he should be using. He had just purchased a Coppertone facial stick and soon after applying his face and eyes began burning, in the middle of a client meeting nonetheless.
As soon as I looked at the active ingredients I knew: avobenzone, oxybenzone and the usual chemical suspects were there (never mind the list of chemical “inactive” ingredients), which aside from causing skin irritation also have significant effects once absorbed into the blood stream.
The availability of so many impostor “natural” sunscreens out there scares me because most just say natural but are still laden with chemicals that irritate skin. So, how do you know what to buy and where?
In my opinion, most brands available in drugstores aren’t worth the money, though there are a few exceptions.
Look for Titanium Dioxide and/or Zinc Oxide as the active ingredients, nothing else. Sometimes these are combined with chemical sunscreens but these two are the safest. They are physical sunblocks that form a layer on your skin and repel UV rays. Reading inactive ingredient lists takes a little bit more training so I’m going to give a few of my suggestions and also say you can always look up your products on the Environmental Working Group’s Safe Cosmetics Database to see where your products stand on the toxicity list. One disclaimer, if your skin tends to break out, look for a sunscreen that is more Zinc Oxide than Titanium Dioxide based.
Lately, I’ve been using LaVanila Laboratories Baby Block and Badger Balm’s Sunscreens (they have a wide selection for your needs). Also, Badger Balm has a face stick that has only Zinc Oxide and is great for on the go moments. I like LaVanila’s better for my face because it doesn’t leave as much white residue and Badger Balm’s for my body because I know that if I go swimming it stays put really well. Badger Balm is probably the most budget friendly brand and is available in some drugstores, Ulta, health food stores and even Bed, Bath & Beyond stores that have Harmons. Additionally, I’ve read a lot of good things about a new brand, Coola, although I haven’t tried it yet. Just recently I discovered a brand called 100% Pure and they have some great choices as well. Finally, if you’re really on a sunblock budget, go for Burt’s Bees products or Yes to Cucumbers latest product.
Don’t forget your lips which are very sensitive. My picks are from Juice Beauty, Burt’s Bees, and Yes to Carrots. They provide great SPF protection and moisturize your lips at the same time. Don’t ever use anything with a petroleum based products on your lips while in the sun because it has been my experience that causes more damage.
As always, wear a hat, sunglasses, protective clothing, use an umbrella and be aware of what type of skin you have and how susceptive your skin is to the sun. A tan is always nice, but a severe sun isn’t really worth the pain or harm it does to the skin.